March 8th, 2019 marks International Women’s Day, an annual celebration of the social, economic, and political achievements of women globally.
This year’s theme is ‘Balance for Better’, encouraging a gender balanced workforce. To celebrate this day, we asked Navneet Sekhon, the President and Founder of AxSource Consulting Inc. about her role, accomplishments, and opinions about workplace equality. Here’s what she had to say:
1. Tell us about your business, role and your career path.
“I am the President of AxSource Consulting Inc., which is a company that I founded in 2008. However, prior to this, I started as an independent consultant, at the age of 24, assisting companies in FDA regulatory compliance projects primarily for pharmaceuticals and medical device industry.I felt I had rare expertise in start-ups and very broad range of experiences in health products to share. I secured many clients and provided advice in regulatory affairs, quality compliance, clinical affairs, and even software validation. I worked for various corporations in senior capacity when I wanted to have my children.”
2. What does it mean to be a woman in your position?
“I am proud to lead our corporation. However, this feeling of pride also comes with frustration. I am frustrated that women must jump 10 times higher to get to where they want to get to and achieve their goals. Being a visible minority and coming from a different cultural background, this is certainly something I have encountered throughout my corporate career.
That being said, I am happy to work in an industry that has a significant make-up of women. Unfortunately, the value attached to their work is not fully appreciated. Although they are supporting the launches of health products globally, that are ultimately aimed at improving the lives of patients, there is a preconceived notion that the regulatory affairs industry is simply glorified administrative work, when in fact it is a very strategic, detail oriented, requiring breadth of expertise and highly organized skills that not many men would possess.
Regardless, as women in the regulatory affairs industry we should feel proud to be the individuals that are enabling new companies with health products to be brought to market that will have a positive long-term impact. It is for this reason that I enjoy what I do. For me, it is not about the monetary reasons. Rather, it is about the passion, the ability to give back, and being able to provide the opportunity to work with other women and help them move forward.That is also why I joined the Canadian Association of Professional Regulatory Affairs as a Chair.I thoroughly enjoyed volunteering for this Association to progress its mandate with fellow Board of Directors.”
3. What does a gender balanced workforce mean to you? Why do you think it is important?
“I believe that a gender balanced workforce is more important now than ever. Before, it was possible for one parent to stay home with their families while the other worked. Now, the carrying cost of raising a family does not allow for this. Consequently, since both spouses need to support the family, they both need to work equally as well – both at home and at work. For that reason, it is a logical progression that the workforce should be balanced as well.
When it comes to a gender balanced workforce, I also believe there shouldn’t be a quota necessarily set for women. Rather, if they have the appropriate qualifications and experience, they should be provided the opportunity to for that role.It is noteworthy that many women to this date continue to be discriminated for these roles during their prime years due to childbearing responsibilities. Probably the reason why women in executive position enter these positions later in their lives. “Barriers such as family, gender, or culture shouldn’t serve as obstacles preventing women from achieving their goals.
We need to continue to make changes in our societal values to enable this for certain.”
4. How have you seen attitudes/culture change since you started your career?
“I’ve noticed some change in attitudes regarding women in the workforce. However, it hasn’t been much, and it’s definitely is not enough.”
5. What advice would you give women struggling in a male dominated industry?
“I would encourage more women to further their education and strive to fulfill their career aspirations no matter how difficult. You need to look after yourself and reach for the top by not letting anyone stand in the way of achieving your goals. If there are those that doubt you, don’t listen to them and forge ahead. Demonstrate your value and integrity!”
6. You were previously nominated for the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards in 2016 and 2017. How did that make you feel and what did it mean to you?
“The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards is a national awards program that celebrates the achievements of female entrepreneurs, recognizing their outstanding contributions across multiple sectors from economic growth to social change.
In 2016, over 5500 women in Canada were nominated, whom I am proud to stand alongside. I felt a great sense of pride hearing that I was one of 200 who were finalists. The fact that we have over 5500 women who are business owners demonstrates that a positive change is taking place in the workforce.
In 2017, I received my second nomination. Being nominated twice for such an award is a true honor and testament to the hard work that I have put into my company over the years.”