Impact and Belonging: How Ankita Rege Found Work She Loves in a Culture of Safety

From studying engineering to running regional marketing for HemoCue India, Ankita Rege has found her passion in work that serves her community in point-of-care blood diagnostics. Below, she discusses the immense potential of helping users both directly and indirectly and how a heavy workload feels manageable in a trusting and supportive workplace where she has the psychological safety to say “no.”

Tell us about your role. What do you work on day to day?

I work as Marketing Manager for HemoCue India. It is quite a comprehensive role as there are multiple facets to it and it’s not limited to the strategic marketing plans, which form the core of the role. It also expands to handling communications, annual plans layout, fulfilling tender requirements, customer support, updating literature and so on, at a regional level. Connecting internally with the sales team and externally with the customers frequently helps me get the real-time market pulse. The sales team is the center of HemoCue, and they help with real-time and new information updates, which in turn helps us stay ahead of the curve.

Our systems appear very simple, but we have a complex customer segment. We have a hematology portfolio and a diabetic portfolio. It’s very broad and one must reinvent new opportunities every time. It’s not always a duplication. The anemia and diabetes markets are huge, and awareness is still at its nascent stage with a lot to be done across the world. Working with government bodies, understanding the common vision, and presenting HemoCue’s solutions have now become routine.

So, it’s interesting. It’s sometimes tough; it’s a big task, but I thoroughly enjoy it as I get to learn a lot each day.

What brought you to HemoCue?

Having completed my basic education in engineering, I joined the Medical Devices industry, firstly in servicing and then gradually moved into sales. As a freshly graduated engineer, I had ambitions to be part of inventing, modifying and redesigning instruments, machines, etc. as well as be a part of the change process. Although India is now developing into a reasonable R&D hub, back then the industry was mostly into promotion and maintenance. 

I got opportunities to work with Fortune 500 companies, which helped me build my basic understanding of the market. I enjoyed those roles where I had the opportunity to travel to new places – meeting new and diverse personalities, providing them with solutions and helping them achieve excellence in their endeavors. However, I was mostly executing the strategies and providing real-time solutions.

I enrolled myself in an international MBA course in Boston, Massachusetts and when I came back home, I started working in the marketing domain.

When I started working in healthcare, I realized there’s immense potential to touch people’s lives directly and indirectly. I, as an individual, feel so much for other human beings irrespective of their status. With HemoCue, I thought I was actually making a difference in the lives of people and society at large. Compared to my past marketing stint with aesthetic healthcare, I feel that my current role adds direct value and more people benefit. Here I am at HemoCue, working for a real need in healthcare, solving someone’s problem. That really makes me feel proud to be associated with HemoCue.

In addition to helping people, what else keeps you at HemoCue?

What matters a lot is the culture, the people. HemoCue has an amazing culture, and the best part is you can be yourself. To work is one thing, right? You can get overwhelmed with work, which is perfectly fine. You’ll still learn to manage with the experience you gain. At HemoCue, we have a great set of teams driven by trust and respect toward each other, so that’s what keeps me here. I enjoy it and there’s absolute openness and freedom to be yourself here. I can vouch for this and with amazing leaders it makes it worth it.

There are a lot of people who have been here for a long time, so there is a good bond and trust among people, which is essential. Trust is the core that cannot be compromised. Respect for each other, for who you are, irrespective of the cadre or role is crucial. There are times when you agree and disagree on something, which is fine as long as you can justify why. There have been situations when an activity or an engagement has been proposed and I felt comfortable and candid enough to say, “I don’t see how this is going to help.”

My manager gives me the psychological safety to say “no,” which is very critical. If I’m just being pressured to execute, and I can’t do my work wholeheartedly, it is no fun whatsoever. Here, I have the freedom to speak my mind. If it’s rational and justifiable, it will be considered. There have been times when I was convinced my “no” should be reconsidered, and this was only possible through respectable constructive dialogues. And I would like to praise my manager, he’s extremely humble, reachable and has almost zero ego. There is no apprehension, there’s no fear. You feel very liberated. Being heard is important.

Here at HemoCue India, we are, to a great extent, contributing to the government’s vision of eradicating anemia. We’re touching lives by testing and addressing this area, which plays a big part. I feel good about what HemoCue is, directly and indirectly, able to add to people’s lives, and that makes me feel satisfied with being an HemoCue associate.

Does this tie into how you’re able to be comfortable as a woman on a leadership team that’s particularly male-dominant?

Definitely. I’ve never gotten those indications, or been made to feel I’m the only woman, or I’m the minority. I’ve never had that kind of incident. Since my background is in engineering, I’ve always been in the ratio of something like 60 boys and 4 girls in a classroom, so that’s been a standard for me. However, irrespective of gender, I think one has to see through the lens of capability rather than anything else.

There are still organizations that are very autocratic. HemoCue is certainly not. But we’re in an era when the days of total control are gone. Even parenting has changed. We’re not in an era when somebody else would decide things for us. There’s no hierarchical binding here at HemoCue. There are so many organizations out there that follow hierarchy and follow egos. But here it isn’t so. And it means there’s no micromanagement.

What excites you about the future?

The future looks bright and promising, there is lots to do and new opportunities to explore. There is a subtle responsibility for people who work in healthcare. If we can give them the right tools and support, they can change the direction of the industry, and the next generations of mankind will benefit.

At a personal level, I believe I can stand out as a leader globally as well. I look forward to higher responsibilities within or outside the region and, most importantly, I believe HemoCue-Danaher has the right approach and opportunities for their employees.