Name: Jana Spes
Position: VP Technical Operations, Global R&D
Company: Apotex Inc.
Industry: Pharmaceuticals

Tell us a bit about what you do, and what do you enjoy most about it?
I work for the largest Canadian-owned pharmaceutical company with operations across the globe. In my role I am responsible for the development and execution of product manufacturing strategies leading to launch of affordable generic medicines. Moreover, I am responsible for life cycle management of more than 350 already marketed drugs ensuring that various changes over their life do not compromise drug quality and efficacy. To accomplish this I lead a large technical team that focuses on various stages of product scale-up and commercialization. What I love about my job is that I can apply both my passion for leadership and technology to deliver results. The environment is multicultural and multi-ethnic, yet we are one “big family” recognizing individual contributions, celebrating accomplishments and holidays in an environment of mutual respect.

What attracted you to Lean In Canada?
Being a newcomer to Canada, Lean In provided a great opportunity to meet and network with other professional women. Quality, a variety of topics and the caliber of speakers made me feel that I was in the right place. The first event I discovered after my arrival this February under the headline “Building your Personal Brand” was sold out, yet sparked my curiosity to research it further – and gave me an immediate impression that this would be a great forum to join.

What was one thing that most resonated with you at our last event?
The engagement of speakers in the last “Women on Board” event showed how women pour their hearts into their careers and additionally do not hesitate taking on volunteer work to contribute to the greater good, open the doors to bigger opportunities and achieve results. The speakers’ accomplishments illustrated that women are very resourceful and agile to work their way around glass ceilings and old conventions. We just need to do more of this in greater numbers and persist, for which all three accomplished board members gave practical and actionable advice.

If you were to recommend Lean In Canada to anyone, what would you say?
Whether you are a follower of Sheryl Sandberg or not, if you are passionate about your career this is a great place to meet like-minded women and be inspired. Topics are well-chosen and speak to women at any point in their careers. The events are flawlessly organized and the venue in Toronto is top-notch. There is always plenty of time to network with speakers and attendees. I have already made a number of valuable connections.

How are you leaning in?
I am working in a highly male-dominated environment which can be exhausting at times. For that I have two strategies: keeping a high level of awareness in meetings to understand the mood, non-verbal language which can be different with men while participating actively and secondly sticking to my collaborative style of leadership that helped me to get recognized over the years. With my business partners, I first offer help, strategy how to build a better future before seeking the same. I also try to be as fearless as possible and focus on making contribution. Joining, my company only 6 months ago I applied this successfully building our 2020 Vision Strategic Plan working with team of experienced peers. I also dropped “impostor” syndrome feeling which can just hinder confidence or paying extra attention to if there are other women in the meeting and just focus on the content and non-verbal cues.

Name one notable woman you think deserves a shout out or career recognition – and what would you like us to know about her?
Recently, Carly Fiorina impressed me in the second Republican Presidential debate. She was superbly prepared in comparison to her male colleagues, and thinking on her feet, found daring ways to make her points – doing so with poise, ease and control. I may not agree with her views but would like to know what ultimately drives her. She also struck me as one of the most serious candidates and I wonder what she does for fun. We always like to know the whole person.

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