United, even at a distance: Menarini Asia Pacific’s initiatives in times of pandemic

A first work day almost always warrants excitement.
A new office, a new desk, new bosses, and new colleagues to share important professional projects with but also leisure time.

The energy that usually characterises the debut in the company, since March 2020, for many new employees of Menarini Group, has remained at home. In fact, many new employees started their new roles at home, an experience never known before.

We collected the testimonies of many professionals on what it means to become part of Menarini Asia Pacific – a company of Menarini Group, based in Singapore – in such extraordinary conditions.
There are those like Jeffrey Koh (Sales Manager) and Richard Milligan (Regional Procurement Director), who had to face the selection steps exclusively through online platforms; or those like Deborah Koh (Regional Corporate and Communications Executive), who managed to meet the coordinators just before the lockdown in Singapore. “There was no lack of fears in experiencing a career change during such an uncertain moment as the lockdown”, recounts Michelle Hong, Senior Research Scientist. However, she was immediately reassured by the HR department, adding that “this made me feel confident in the company and in the choice that I had made.” 

All the professionals who have joined the large Menarini Asia Pacific family agree on the company’s ability to be welcoming, collaborative and attentive to integration processes. The timely sending of electronic devices to employees’ homes has become a key step in ensuring virtual meetings and managing office operations, as work in attendance was not possible. 

The lockdown period revealed the most empathic side of the company, despite the physical distancing. Shameek Bose, Regional Project Manager said, “It was fantastic to start working for Menarini Group. I received a very warm welcome from HR, Procurement and Program Leaders and Colleagues who made me feel extremely comfortable on the first day. Though I joined a contract role for a specific project, everyone provided a clear long term vision of the region in their introduction which is an unusual but impressive culture”.

The working conditions imposed by the anti-Covid measures were unprecedented for the new hires. A new role to consolidate within the walls of their own home “As with everything this year, it’s a new experience that requires some adaptation and a positive mindset.” – explained Richard Milligan, Regional Procurement Director – “Sometimes easier said than done with a small apartment and 2 screaming kids, but like everyone around the world, we have tried to make it work. The one positive is the additional time at home and getting to spend more time with the family, but I do look forward to returning to some form of normality.”.

However, Richard was not the only one to have experienced this: many employees had to start their new job with kids and babies at home and there were plenty of fun moments. Michelle Hong had to keep the door locked so she could concentrate on her work or do some video calls, but her kids sent her messages under the door and even tried to call on her mobile phone. Jeffrey Koh would never expect to work from his children’s bedroom, nor would he expect to learn to quickly turn off his laptop camera, in case one of his kids inadvertently entered the room, eager to see the various faces in the meeting.
The pandemic has been a tough challenge for all of us, but it has also taught us that “we can be adaptable, resilient and resourceful in the face of adversity”, as Milligan points out.
Menarini Asia Pacific boldly met the challenge imposed by Covid-19 to reinforce the dynamics of engagement between company and employees. Every initiative to support its staff was well received, even when not directly related to work, such as a Mother’s Day cake that Michelle Hong received at home, which made her understand that “through this simple gesture, it goes to show that a company like Menarini values the well-being of its staff and will go the extra mile to make them feel happy, motivated, supported and appreciated, especially during these uncertain and challenging times”.

The months of remote working were difficult, so it was necessary to shorten the physical distance between employees and the company by including unconventional moments of sharing.

For example, a remarkable initiative was Menarini FM, a programme addressed to employees during the lockdown period, bringing conversations online to inculcate a continued sense of belonging. The aim of the programme – lasting one hour a week – was to make colleagues feel closer and keep them updated on all the company’s news. It has been divided in three parts: “Fireside Chats”, a special “Laugh out loud” part, and a part on the social project “Invigorating lives”. To kick off the programme, the CEO of Menarini Asia Pacific, Luca Lastrucci, gave an interview encouraging collegues to remain strong and think positively, because only by remaining united and supporting each other will the company be strengthened.

There was no lack of guests from outside the company, such as: the Personal Trainer Lewis Toh, who gave advice on how to keep fit from home, and Yap Wai Meng, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Education, who gave some helpful tips for parents working from home. 

The testimony of Deborah Koh, Regional Corporate Branding and Communications Executive, is emblematic of the impression that the new team members have had on Menarini FM and the Company: I was surprised by the Menarini FM initiative, by the way it involves employees on significant topics, but also celebrating birthdays, special occasions and milestones! “

These and others were Menarini Asia Pacific’s initiatives, aimed at involving its employees and keeping their positivity and enthusiasm alive. Working for Menarini makes the difference, every day.