Financial health skills are helping Carolyn Tucek-Szabo's work in medicine
Carolyn Tucek-Szabo trained as a scientist, but needed to get her financial knowledge to a point where she could confidently make strategic decisions with the rest of her executive team.
Dr Tucek-Szabo is the Director of Regulatory Affairs, Australasia for GlaxoSmithKline, a global pharmaceutical company where financial health data plays a key part in strategic decision-making.
"As an executive team member, I am expected to input into the company’s strategic direction, which involves understanding and interpreting the financial health of our business and medicine portfolio," she says.
"My background is in science, so I looked for a program which would provide a breakdown of common financial terminology and practical applications."
After searching online for an appropriate class, Dr Tucek-Szabo enrolled in the Finance for Non-Financial Managers course at Melbourne Business School.
"To be honest, I anticipated challenges spending three days listening to financial accounting language – however Henry Botha, the program director, delivered learning at a surprisingly measured pace, which helped us with what we needed," she says.
The course is designed to give participants a clear understanding of financial terms, theories and tools and provide working examples of real-world challenges.
"The program helped teach me how to apply health checks to financial information, including demystifying annual reports. The bonus was in Henry's dry delivery and humour, which made our time there very enjoyable," Dr Tucek-Szabo says.
With a background in research, Dr Tucek-Szabo is responsible for delivering medicines in the areas of immunisation and immunology, HIV and respiratory disease for Australian patients.
"Our company discovers, develops and produces prescription medicines, vaccines and consumer healthcare products which are intended to help patients do more, feel better and live longer," she says.
"As Director of Regulatory Affairs, I am responsible for a team who delivers scientific data to the government to ensure new medicines are registered and are kept compliant to high regulatory standards. Financial understanding is important in this."
Now back at the office, Dr Tucek-Szabo says the program has given her new confidence in her role on the team.
"As a senior leader, I now feel more empowered to contribute to the commercial side of our business and personal investment decisions by using a multi-faceted approach to reviewing financial information," she says.
"Also, I can now follow our finance director’s report to the executive team with greater understanding and have developed more of an interest of our commercial units."
Dr Tucek-Szabo says her strategic priorities this year are innovation, performance and trust. With her work in preparing strategy and building advocacy for immuno-oncology medicines, the last priority is particularly important.
"Personally, I cannot imagine operating in an environment where honesty and transparency are not intrinsic to the business culture. They create trust within a business and impact staff retention and morale," she says.
"In my role, both are extremely important. Especially with our customers who value you, respect you and continue to engage with you. When you are honest and transparent in your business processes and culture, an environment of courage, accountability and calculated risk taking will lead to success."