Meet the inspirational women at Austell

Achieving the ever elusive work-life balance with anchen engelbrecht

In this interview series, we celebrate some of the extraordinary women that are an important part of the Austell Pharmaceuticals family. They share their experiences in the industry, reveal the secrets to their success and discuss their aspirations for the future.
“As a female in the pharmaceutical industry, it is nice to find a company in this industry that treats men and women equally in every aspect, including salary and career opportunities, explains Anchen Engelbrecht, Head of Marketing at Austell Pharmaceuticals.” We spoke to Anchen about her personal experience in this historically male-dominated profession, and how she juggles work and her personal life.

Tell us about your work journey

I joined Austell as a Brand Manager 12 years ago without any previous marketing experience. The great thing about this company is that they look for opportunities to grow people within the business. In fact, one of the official company values is to help employees build their individual careers within the business. When I first started, I was given some of the brands to work on as a way to learn the business of marketing, and also as an introduction to the Austell culture. As I grew within the company, I was assigned some of the key brands. I was extremely honoured when just a few years into the role, Austell entrusted me with their flagship brand, Prospan. In 2018, I was promoted to Head of Marketing.

What is it like to be a woman in the pharmaceutical industry?

Working for a company like Austell is great because they have never made me feel like being a female in this industry is any different to being a male. The Austell environment is inclusive and does not discriminate against women. I choose to work for a purpose-driven organisation, where I know that I can make a difference in patient’s lives every day.

What are some of the advantages that you bring to your role as a female?

Women will inevitably have different experiences growing up to their male counterparts. These unique experiences shape our thinking and approach to business. It affects how we solve problems, handle difficult situations, make decisions as well as the ideas that we bring to the table.
Women are, dare I say it, great multi-taskers. In an industry where you are juggling one hundred glass balls every day, I would bet on a woman’s multi-tasking skills and tenacity any day!

What are your top struggles with being a woman in this industry?

One of my top struggles, which I am sure I share with many of my male colleagues too, is balancing work and personal life. You put in long hours of hard work, endure enormous amounts of pressure and in some positions, travel, which means that you are often not at home, sometimes for extended periods of time. This can make you feel incredibly guilty, especially when you miss yet another school function or sports event. However, what I have learnt is that it is not about the quantity of time spent with my family, but the quality of the time I spend with my family. When I spend time with my husband and two teenagers, I make sure I am a 100% present. I also make sure that I am there for them whenever they need me.

In your 12 years in Pharma, how has the industry changed towards women?

If you look at some statistics from 2021, only 5% of CEOs in SA are female, and there is still a significant gender pay gap. This is no different in Pharma, with very few female CEOs taking the industry forward. Women in pharma often gravitate naturally to senior roles in regulatory and quality assurance, marketing, and finance, however women can do anything they put their minds to, especially in this industry. I do believe the industry is striving to become more diverse and equal, and we will see more of this in the future.

As a woman, what makes Austell a great company to work for?

Women in Austell are not discriminated against when it comes to remuneration or promotions. I am treated equally to my male co-workers, and it is up to my own abilities, hard work, and drive to make growth happen in Austell. I also love that I learn something new every single day, and that any new ideas that I have are taken into consideration.
The Austell values of integrity, honesty, career growth, boundary-less culture and constant innovation align well with my own value system. At Austell, we live the company values, and hold each other accountable if we don’t. Even though we are scaling up, we still feel like a family, who genuinely care about our fellow Austellians.
I also like that Austell have created a charity initiative called the Austell Al Noor Foundation to support underprivileged communities in various ways, and each of us can get involved in projects that are close to our hearts.

Do you think there are enough women in significant roles at Austell currently?

Yes, I do. We are also constantly promoting women to critical roles in the company. We promote and appoint based on the right person for the position, and never look at gender.

What would you say to any young woman looking to get into a career in the pharmaceutical industry?

Look for a company with strong core values that align with your own. Get into a company that sees and hears you for who you are – where your voice matters. Don’t go in with a mindset that you have to be treated differently because you are female. If you want the career, growth and success, expect and demand to be treated the same as your male peers, and put in the effort. You can have a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry and have a happy, balanced family life. I call it work-life harmony!
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