In Conversation with… Penn Policarpio, General Manager of Consumer Healthcare in Vietnam and Cambodia  

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.

Penn Policarpio is the General Manager of Consumer Healthcare in Vietnam and Cambodia in areas such as digestive health, nutrition and pain. She graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of the Philippines and started working for Sanofi 20 years ago. Originally from the Philippines, Penn describes herself as a “mobile citizen”, having worked in Manila, Singapore, Paris and Ho Chi Minh City. For Penn, changing countries is a family affair and everyone moves with her, including her two sons.


You have been at Sanofi for 20 years; how do you stay fresh?

The journey has been a very interesting and fulfilling one, because I’ve had so many great opportunities as well as challenges, achievements and invaluable lessons like new positions in the Philippines or in other countries such as Singapore, France and Vietnam. Taking on new challenges is what makes me love my work even more because I am a curious go-getter. From a very young age, I loved conquering challenges, exploring new things and stepping out of my comfort zone. Routine is not for me.

How does it impact your family when you move?

The difficulties are more considerable for women like me. I am a wife and a mother of two children, so the biggest challenge is the adjustment of the whole family, because they go where I go. My concern is whether my family will adapt well to the new environment.
Honestly, we have been doing this together for the past ten years and it has been a fulfilling experience, not only for me but also for my kids. It is very special to see my children growing up in an international environment. Getting to know other cultures, exploring new countries, making foreign friends are precious opportunities for the whole family. 

What is key to your success?

Having a clear purpose and knowing why I am doing this makes me want to jump up in the morning and strive every day. The second thing, which is equally important, is to have a strong support system. For me, it is my family. My husband is wonderful and has always supported me with every decision I’ve made.  
I am naturally optimistic. I have always told myself that I must look on the bright side of life, because there will be sunshine after the rain.

Do you have a good work-life balance?

I don’t adhere to the work-life balance school of thought. In this modern world, work and life should be intertwined instead of being balanced. To achieve this harmony, the fundamental ingredient is whether we can find the right level of what to give and what to take. I am not only a female leader but also a daughter, a wife and a mother, so to fulfill all the roles, the seamless integration of my personal life and work is extremely important. At the end of the day when I go home, family is still most important. 

Like many mothers, I want to become a role model for my children. There is a golden rule, "Whatever is hurtful to you, do not do to any other person", and I practice this philosophy every day, hoping my children will follow it. I also hope my children will understand the value of resiliency, hard work, speaking up, raising their hands and taking opportunities.

Are you ambitious?

Whether you are a man or a woman, you need to dream and you need to dream big. That is what dreams are about. The dream should be a little bigger and a little higher so that it can inspire you and help you work a little harder to make it come true. When you have a big dream, you will have more motivation, persistence and aspiration to plan and strive to realize your ambitions every day.

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