In Conversation with … Najla Cherif Hamdi, Country Chair for Tunisia and Libya
Women@Sanofi celebrates our highly successful women who work with dedication and passion across our teams worldwide to deliver solutions in healthcare for everyone, everywhere. This series of conversations allows you to discover who they really are, what drives them and the rich mix of cultures and perspectives they bring to the table. As individuals they lead the way and push the boundaries, and as a whole they embody our engagement and actions to instill gender equality into the fabric of everything we say and do.
The second series of Women@Sanofi focuses on the diverse mix of cultures and nationalities of our women at the top as well as their desire to ensure an inclusive and open workplace.
Najla Cherif Hamdi graduated from the High School of Management-Tunis and started her career in sales, then quality before working as the head of human resources in several different areas, including health and telecommunications. She joined Sanofi in 2013 as HR Head of Tunisia and Libya, and since 2016 as the HR Head for the Multi Country Organization of Morocco, Tunisia & Libya. In 2019, she took on the role of Country Chair for the Tunisian office.
Tell me about your background?
I grew up in a very traditional family where the rules were very clear for everyone. I had four brothers so as the only daughter I was a little spoiled but respect was a must. I grew up alongside lots of different cultures and nationalities, in a really open, international world. As a Tunisian, I am African, Mediterranean, Carthaginian, and Phoenician, multicultural, which I love. Tunisians are really conscious of their strong history and variety.
How important is inclusion and diversity in the workplace, in your life?
I’ve always lived in a diverse environment, but when I started working for a petrol company and was the first women it was strange. But it motivated me to bring more women on board. Bringing together new cultures, new experiences and new ways of thinking makes us even stronger.
I’ve spent most of my career in multinational companies so I’ve been lucky to work in a community that embraces different cultures, people, religions, continents and countries. I like to bring new ways of working to my team. I care about our passions, our company and the people around me.
Why did you go into healthcare?
A few years ago, one of my brothers got cancer. When he was in the final stages, we couldn’t do anything, and when he died I felt weak and powerless. I will never forget him and the heartbreak my family went through.
After that I realized health is more important than anything, it’s the first level of happiness for me. Healthcare is not only about business or development or innovation, it’s about life, being human, living in a good way; if we don’t have our health, we have nothing.
How do you approach the future?
I am naturally a very optimistic person and that drives me every day to do new things. It’s very important for me to have challenges, to change position and take on new activities. I hate being bored.
I have strong hope for the new generation. I want people to live happily and to enjoy the moment, to experience real life, not only social media life and this is what I am teaching my daughters.