Meet Sheila M.

26 July 2017

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’ve been working in IT for nearly 28 years now. I was lucky enough to begin my career when IT was really taking off, and have enjoyed opportunities to explore the diverse nature of the field. I am a geek at heart, so I love all things technology. I have a weakness for bad horror movies on the SciFi channel, and enjoy gardening, cooking, reading, and hiking. My family and I raise Eastern Bloc German Shepherds, and we currently share our home with 2 beautiful furry ladies.


What is your current job?

I am the head of IT for Roche Sequencing’s Madison, Wisconsin location.


Where did you study?

I am actually going to school now, working toward a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, with the ultimate goal being a Master’s of Science in Biotechnology from UW-Madison.


In which Roche location are you currently working? What can you tell us about that location?

I am at the Roche Sequencing location in Madison, Wisconsin. We develop target enrichment solutions for next-generation sequencing. The people here are phenomenal, and some of the best I’ve ever worked with. Everyone is so passionate about what we do, so there’s this great sense of family and focus that you get from anyone you talk to here.


Why did you decide to join Roche and why at this location?

When I was approached by a recruiter about the role here, I did some research on the company and was fascinated by what I learned. The more I read, the more I knew I wanted to be a part of it. What first attracted me were the statements on the Roche commitments, and their “About Us”. I researched their corporate social responsibility score, and was very impressed. And, I read all the stories from employees and patients, which made me feel as though this would be a fantastic place to work. During my interview, I asked each team about the culture here, and the responses I got from each solidified my desire to be a part of it.  


What makes it a great place to work?

There are so many things that it would be hard to choose just a few to highlight. I could talk about the sense of shared purpose, the teamwork, the fact that we get to come to work every day knowing that we are helping to change the field of medicine. I could talk about the dedication that Roche has to their employees, and all the opportunities that exist from a career standpoint. I could talk about all the work that we get to do within our community, the trips to local schools where we get to talk to young minds about all of the great things happening in the world of science, and so much more. And, I could talk about the co-workers, locally and across the globe. All of these things, combined with so much more, are what make this a great place to work.


How would you describe Roche as an employer?

Roche as an employer is one that walks the talk. So many companies give lip service to caring about their employees, but Roche shows they care in every way possible. Their benefits are fantastic, but what truly sets them apart is how they work with you as an individual to ensure that you get the most from your career. They are willing to work with you to discover what it is you are passionate about, and to help you obtain the tools you need to get wherever it is you want to go.


What makes it such a great job?

Prior to finding my way to Roche, I was really struggling with finding my “why”. I love my profession, and truly love solving problems and making IT a partner of the business, but the larger sense of purpose was always missing, even when working in the non-profit sector. I know people talk of that desire for a larger purpose as being unique to Millennials, but I believe that most people seek that deeper, more meaningful "why", regardless of age or profession.

Here, we get to see evidence of our why every day. When the daily whirlwind of projects and deadlines and delays becomes too much, I walk out to our lobby and I look at our display case. The noise goes away then, because our “why” is right there. The photo of Nic Volker is our “why”. The patient stories that are featured on the Roche intranet and in our marketing materials are our “why”. And all the stories that are yet to be told...they are our “why”. Walking through the lab, I see those unwritten stories, and I am so very proud to be a part of that.


Can you pick at least three of the attributes of Roche and explain in detail what they mean to you?

  • Work-life balance: In addition to being a professional who is passionate about her career, I am a wife, a mother, and a student. Balancing all of these things can be a challenge at times, but Roche allows me to figure out what works best for me and my family.
  • Teamwork: We are all working toward the same goals, and people do not hesitate to step in and help achieve those goals. We share such an important mission, and everyone here seems to understand that the only way we’ll get there is together.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility: Roche is committed to sustainability, and exhibits that commitment in so many ways. From its focus on community, the environment, employees, and its strong ethical foundation; Roche is a company that knows its impact on society and its responsibility in the world.    


How would you describe the people working here?

The people are the best part about working here. They are intelligent, curious, and passionate about what they do, and they are dedicated to the Roche mission.


What sets Roche apart from other companies?

When I am meeting new vendors or trying to forge new relationships with internal partners across Roche, I like to talk about the Doing Now What Patients Need Next brochure, and the last page in that book. I carry one of these brochures in my backpack, so that I can help people understand just why I am so proud to work here. I also keep a copy of the last page on my office wall, because it strikes such a cord. The entire statement is powerful, but the last paragraph is what resonates so loudly with me. 

“We are proud of who we are, what we do, and how we do it. We are many, working as one across functions, across companies, across the world.

We are Roche.”

That is what sets Roche apart from other companies.


What is a typical workday like?

In IT, there is no such thing as a typical day, especially within Sequencing! That’s the best part, though; no two days are ever exactly alike, and the technology that we get to work with is some of the most advanced in the world. It is challenging, and sometimes stretches us outside our comfort zone, but that’s what we love about what we do.


What would you advise job seekers who want to join us?

Be passionate about what you do, and research how your job function connects to the bigger picture. Go out to the Roche website and read the “About Us”, especially Our Purpose and Our Business Priorities. They matter, more than I can describe. If you read them and you get excited about being a part of this journey, then you are in the right place.


How is your job connected to “doing now what patients need next”?

My team and I talk about this all the time. Everything we do, from resetting a password to replacing a keyboard to implementing a new infrastructure, supports our business goals locally, regionally, and globally. We have this awesome responsibility, providing the technology that allows the company to achieve these innovations. Our every task helps to ensure that the rest of the company is able to do their jobs, and that is how we are directly connected to “doing now what patients need next”.