Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Being vice president and the head of human resources for Novartis Pharmaceuticals allows Marcelo Fumasoni to be exactly who he is: a humanitarian above all else

Marcelo Fumasoni, vice president and head of human resources at Novartis Pharmaceuticals. Photo by Sheila Barabad.

Marcelo Fumasoni saves lives all over the world. He works tirelessly to defend children against everything from malaria to sex trafficking. For some, endeavors such as these must be weighed against having a day job. For the vice president of Novartis Pharmaceuticals, one complements the other.
Fumasoni proudly commits to humanitarian work, sitting on the advisory board of Global Humanitaria, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) that covers different parts of Asia (Nepal, India, and Cambodia) as well as Latin America (Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia). The organization’s objective is to build sustainable communities, strengthen civil rights for women and children, and fight child sex exploitation, particularly in Asia.

Global Humanitaria makes a difference by creating solutions in terms of providing education, housing, and meals. Its focus is on human rights and supporting equal participation for women in today’s society by helping them create sustainable communities for themselves.

Fumasoni’s most current project with the NGO is creating a shelter in Cambodia where professionals will provide education and psychiatric support to children who were victims of sex exploitation. “We also collaborate with local authorities to help find the perpetrators and give legal support to the victims to find better solutions to these complex situations,” Fumasoni says.

Funding for the project, in conjunction with the launch of Global Humanitaria in the United States, began last October in Miami and New York with a fund-raiser and awareness campaign supported by celebrities Paul Teutul, Sr. of Orange County Choppers, tattoo artist Ami James, and NBA player Ricky Rubio. “I plan to be there by the end of September to collaborate with the last pieces,” says Fumasoni, whose day job at Novartis Pharmaceuticals usually keeps him busy in other locations while still allowing him to make a difference.

Novartis is a Switzerland-based health care company with leading positions in pharmaceuticals, eye care, and generic medicines around the world. The company’s basic mission is caring and curing. Novartis is known for having a strong corporate social responsibility. The global corporation allows Fumasoni to easily intertwine his professional career and personal humanitarian work. He has plenty of reasons to feel good about the work he does in his day job, as well.

“Social responsibility is in my DNA, and Novartis fosters that.”

Fumasoni works in human resources where he drives the talent management pipeline, educational agenda, and the overall employee development strategy. Creating the right opportunities for Novartis’s talent is critical to successfully assist the patients and communities it serves. “We do not do ordinary business,” says Fumasoni. “We produce life-changing interventions.”

In 2001, the company created the Novartis Malaria Initiative to eradicate the disease and has since been able to provide 600 million treatments for adults and children without making any profit from more than 60 malaria-endemic countries. “Malaria is an enormous challenge,” says Fumasoni. Last year, the company partnered with Malaria No More on the Power of One campaign. “We have one of the major products, Coartem, that can help to eradicate malaria,” he says, “but with the product alone, Novartis can only make so much impact.”

After medicinal aid is given, its crucial to provide education to those communities, assign volunteers, and partner with NGOs to complete the mission, he explains. “Social responsibility is in my DNA, and Novartis fosters that,” says Fumasoni. By bringing together his private and professional missions, Fumasoni feels he can make a real difference, helping patients and communities live better lives.