Global pharmaceutical giant Bayer, has appointed Dr Jacqueline Applegate as the company’s senior representative for all it’s businesses in Australia and New Zealand.
Jacqueline Applegate has spent most of her career (21 years) in the ‘World of Bayer’, moving between locations in the United States, to world headquarters in Germany, to France, then back to the US, before arriving in Melbourne on 10th January 2013 to take up her current position as Managing Director of Bayer Australia/New Zealand.
Standing beside her through most of those 21 years, has been her husband David, who takes care of the house and the couple’s ten year old son.
Jacqueline Applegate was born and raised in a small mid-western farming community in the United States. Her mother owned a restaurant and her father worked in water and waste water management. Although they weren’t farmers, the family did maintain an acre garden in the heart of corn and soya bean country. But like many mid-western teenagers, Jacqueline dreamed of a life where corn doesn’t grow.
“If you had asked me when I was 16, I wouldn’t have said I would be a chemist running a company,” Jacqueline told Australian Women Online. “I would have told you that I was the next Jacques Cousteau! I wanted to be a marine biologist and oceanographer and that’s how I actually got interested in science.”
But as Jacqueline was to discover in college, in the 1970s and 80s just about every kid who was good at science in school, wanted to follow in the footsteps of the intrepid French explorer and there just weren’t enough opportunities for everyone to chase the dream.
“I knew to get into a good school for my post-doc I had to do some work, so I was trying to volunteer my time in labs and things but all the biology labs were full,” Jacqueline explained. “So when my organic chemistry teacher asked me if I wanted to volunteer some time in the organic chemistry lab, I said yes because I was thinking it would look great on the resume. So I started working in the chemistry lab as a sophomore.”
“Working in the lab I developed a real passion for organic chemistry so what I ended up doing is applying to get my PhD in chemistry. I was accepted into a top rated school and that set my destiny.”
“After I finished my PhD I interviewed with pharmaceutical companies and agriculture companies but I ended up choosing Bayer because during the interview process they gave me the feeling that they really cared about their employees. It was a family atmosphere where the foundation and success of the company was based on it’s employees and that really came across well in the interviews.”
Not long after starting her career at Bayer, Jacqueline realised that to progress in the company she would have to learn about the business. So with sponsorship from her employer, she went back to school to get her Masters in Business Administration (MBA).
After completing her MBA, Jacqueline moved to Germany to work in global project management at Bayer world headquarters. After 7½ years in Germany, she took a job in environmental science at Bayer in France where she worked for 2½ years before returning to the United States to head environmental science for Bayer in North America.
“As I developed my career I found that I became more interested in general management and managing organisations and people,” said Jacqueline. “So it really was a natural progression coming to Australia. In the leadership role that I have today which is a Managing Director, you really can put an imprint on the organisation. You can drive the culture of the organisation. You can drive and implement business excellence.”
“As a woman I always felt that the company appreciated me and developed me and I know being a senior leader in this company that diversity is a focus of ours. We value creative input and outside the box thinking and that’s why we’ve been around for 150 years.”
Travelling with Jacqueline is her husband David and her son Matthew.
“I’ve been very blessed that I have a husband that has been very supportive of my career. Today it’s more of a conventional family with the husband who stays at home but when I moved to Germany in 1998 that wasn’t the standard.”
“Without my husband David and he’s support through the years I couldn’t do what I do every day. He takes care of the house and our son Matthew which is a full-time job, especially with the type of travel schedule I have now.”
“We’ve travelled a lot around the world and I have to say that settling in Australia has been very easy for us. We’ve been ex-pats in other parts of the world and everybody here has been very kind and very gracious.”
“We will be here for a minimum of five years. I think it’s really important to bring stability to the organisation. When there’s a change at a senior level of an organisation people always worry about instability, so it’s really important that you have time to allow for that growth and nurturing of the organisation.”
“I see myself as serving the organisation and the decisions myself and the leadership make is touching the lives of the families of our employees. Our success keeps them employed and allows them to grow their families and to fulfill their dreams.”