Rising Leaders participants and AmCham members were joined by Marco Forestiere, Country Manager at Amgen Norway, for a session recounting his experience in transitioning from a small business to a multinational company, and back to his passion for entrepreneurship.
Originally from Italy, Forestiere has extensive healthcare and technology industry experience as a former telecom engineer. He explained candidly that he had no clear purpose when he was starting his career and walked participants through critical moments in his path, from working at Accenture to starting and tanking his own company, to going back to school for his MBA and serving 11 years at Indiana-based multinational Eli Lilly.
Forestiere highlighted that a “career is not a linear path” as he shared the ups and downs he experienced, but admitted that timing was an important factor. His career took a turn to pharma by chance. He originally applied for his first role at Eli Lilly thinking it was the coffee company Illy. Starting with an unpaid internship, he rotated domestically for five years before taking on international roles in the US and Czech Republic. Although extremely grateful for the investment that Eli Lilly made in him, his roles left him longing for increased autonomy.
Joining Amgen, Forestiere was looking to find the startup passion once again. Amgen is one of the world’s largest independent biotechnology pharmaceutical companies – dedicated to discovering, developing, manufacturing, and delivering innovative human therapeutics for serious illnesses. With his background in IT and a more limited healthcare background, Forestiere noted the importance of trusting his team, and acknowledging his own limitations.
To Forestiere, Amgen still feels like a start-up: starting with biotechnology in the 80s, they are still experimenting. He easily recognizes himself in the purpose: to help people and improve lives.
Inspired by the trust that was placed in him by his former manager, Forestiere’s true purpose is connecting with and developing people.
He finds it important to be in touch frequently, ask questions about what employees and colleagues do outside of work, their passions, and to build personal connections so that people are comfortable enough to speak up. It is about the balance of the inside and the outside of work. Investing- such time and focus has been even more important during times of uncertainty such as the pandemic.
“What I have told you has been my professional CV, but I have not told you about my family and the personal events that shaped my decisions. At that time, I was also starting my family – that was another important start-up.”
Inspired by one of his employees, Forestiere believes that fun should be incorporated wherever possible in work. According to him, fun is a “refresher of the mind” and an important contributor to performing well and thinking clearly. “It is not about how you work, it is about how you create energy.”
When asked what his team has done to foster fun, he lists several examples including the gamification of tasks and challenges, hosting a cooking show where he shared his favorite recipe, and inviting a member of their IT team (a secret Aikido master) to teach a private Aikido class.
Following the presentation and discussion, Tu An Ngo from the US Embassy led a short session on building a meaningful vision statement with examples and steps to create one of your own. Forestiere noted the importance of allowing yourself to change the vision statement as you go along, as things may change, but to set the purpose as it serves as a guard rail.
After the inspiring presentations, sitting Rising Leader President announced the election of the new board and the open positions participants can run for. The new board will be in place by May 28th.
Rising Leaders, a joint AmCham-US Embassy initiative, brings together entrepreneurs, young professionals, and student leaders in an innovative program to promote diversity and connect promising talent. Through the program, participants engage international business leaders, learn about AmCham member companies, explore careers, and gain business and leadership skills.
The 2020-21 Rising Leaders class – comprised of 17 women and 10 men between the ages of 23 and 35 – bring with them experience from healthcare, classical music, urban planning, organizational psychology, immigration, engineering, communications, technology, teaching, economics, finance, and marketing. All 27 program participants have demonstrated leadership, entrepreneurial, and/or business excellence in their educational pursuits and careers thus far.
Applications for next year’s program will open on June 1st with a deadline set for June 30th. Stay tuned for more announcements via LinkedIn.
For more information about the program, or to learn how your organization can get involved, please contact Madeleine Brekke.
Rising Leaders and AmCham members gathered at Airthings’ Oslo headquarters in November. CTO and Co-Founder Erlend Bolle kicked off the meeting with a candid, humorous retelling or the Airthings story, highlighting key moments in their incredible journey from Norway-based startup to international scaleup.
Rising Leaders participants visited Yara International’s headquarters where they were welcomed by Senior Vice President of Food Systems Transformation, Pablo Barrera Lopez.