Meet Nesma Hashem, 34, acting regulatory affairs supervisor at Health Canada and one of our 20 Under 40 Class of 2023 recipients
A CHEMICAL ENGINEER and lifelong learner, Nesma Hashem has always been fascinated by the pharmaceutical industry and the process of making drug products. Her career path has included work as an applications specialist and technical writer, but she truly unlocked her passion when she moved into regulatory affairs, applying her skills to the review and authorization of new drugs for human use, both for clinical trails and market authorization. A champion for diversity and equality in the workplace, her work to date includes being actively involved in the management and review of Covid-19 vaccinations, contributing significantly to the health and wellbeing of Canadians during the pandemic.
What would you say is your single biggest career achievement, and why?
I am honoured to have been one of the recipients of the Health Products and Food Branch Associate Deputy Minister’s Award of Excellence in the Contribution to the Improvement of the Health of Canadians category for 2021 and 2022, as well as the Health Canada Award of Excellence in 2021. I also believe it’s important to recognize that a person’s single biggest achievement may not be one specific event or accomplishment, rather it is oftentimes small achievements that when combined contribute to what can be considered a big achievement or lead to a larger overall accomplishment in one’s career.
What about your biggest career obstacle — and how did you tackle it?
The biggest obstacle has been overcoming the stereotypes that come with being a visibly Muslim woman and learning to advocate for myself. I found the best ways to tackle this has been to keep an open mind, be willing to learn and educate, focus on my strengths, produce quality work and engage in positive activities that reflect my values and beliefs — such as volunteering, helping others and being an active member of the community.
You’re marooned on a desert island — what’s the one thing you’re bringing with you?
My backpack in which you would find the Quran to read for comfort, a bag of chips and some chocolate, sunscreen and my phone.
What’s left for you to do — professionally or personally?
Personally, I want to travel around the world and go on lengthy tours through Europe and the Middle East, with my first stop being in Egypt, my home country. Professionally, I am currently working on my French proficiency and preparing to obtain the Project Management Professional Certification, both of which will help me advance my career. There is so much more left to do, but I’ll start with these. Interview by Kieran Delamont