Living with disabilities fuels senior HR manager's determination to achieve
An interview with Melanie Xsara Magee, senior manager of Human Resources for Global Quality & Compounding
Q: Please tell us about your role at Baxter.
Melanie: Currently, I serve as a senior manager of human resources within Baxter’s Global Quality and Compounding organization. I also lead the global leadership acceleration talent program for our Global Supply Chain and Quality functions.
Q: I understand that you live with disabilities. Can you share how they affect you daily?
Melanie: I have three autoimmune disorders: Type 1 Diabetes, Hashimoto's thyroiditis and Rheumatoid arthritis, as well as mild Dyspraxia. Each condition affects me differently, and in combination they can be challenging to manage. With Type 1 Diabetes, I need to regularly check my glucose levels, which I do with a scanner device on my arm. I also need to manage my food intake to ensure my glucose levels are kept within a safe range. The Rheumatoid arthritis causes regular pain, fatigue, and inflammation in my hands, wrists and elbows, which can make simple tasks quite difficult. The Dyspraxia affects some of my cognitive functions – such as how I process information – and causes some short-term memory loss.
Q: How has living with disabilities informed your worldview?
Melanie: For me, it’s all about staying on top of the latest research into my conditions and absolutely not letting anything stop me from achieving my goals. These disorders are simply part of who I am, and I think that has only increased my determination to succeed. For example, in 2013 I was elected mayor of the town where I live, in the southeastern part of England.
Q: How have your colleagues at Baxter supported you?
Melanie: My team is fantastic. My supervisor has an excellent understanding of my disabilities and consistently empowers me to achieve my best. I try to avoid booking long meetings at times when my blood glucose is at risk of going too low (lunchtimes), and my colleagues are really understanding and accommodating about that. But most importantly, my team members are always inclusive, which makes me feel comfortable sharing my situation with them. It really means a lot, because as a child, I suffered intense and regular bullying due to my Diabetes, and prior to joining Baxter I was once turned down for a job because the employer thought I would be “a liability.”
Q: Baxter was recently named a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion. What would you like other people with disabilities to know about working at Baxter?
Melanie: Baxter is absolutely committed to ensuring people with disabilities can succeed and have access to great career development opportunities. There is a solid support system for employees with disabilities, including through the Baxter EnAbles business resource group, and I have been provided with adaptive equipment to support me in my role. Anyone thinking of joining Baxter should know that they will feel welcomed, will be empowered to achieve, and will be able to talk openly about their disabilities.