AS/COA WHN 2022: In Keynote, Merck's Sarah Aiosa on Leadership and Taking Risks

“You don't need a title to be a leader," said the pharmaceutical SVP to kick off the 11th Annual AS/COA Women's Hemispheric Network Conference.


  • Sarah Aiosa, SVP & President, Latin America, Merck
  • Susan Segal, President and CEO, AS/COA

“This year, we are tackling important questions related to diversity and representation across sectors, work-life balance, and taking the risk to build the career that each of you want," said Susan Segal of AS/COA to open up the 11th Annual AS/COA Women's Hemispheric Network Conference.

Keynote speaker Sarah Aiosa of Merck touched on many of these themes in a conversation with Segal. On taking risks, Aiosa discussed how she acquired her current role. She asked: why hasn't Merck had a female president for Latin America? Later, she ascended to this exact position. “It’s not enough to work hard; you have to articulate what it is you what and be comfortable saying that," she said.

Aiosa spoke of the people and mentors in her life who helped her succeed in her career. “You need that network and that support to help you on your journey to build advocacy and finding opportunities," she said. She furthered that that network has helped her balance her work obligations with her family. While she's had to turn down opportunities, "my reputation is intact because I’m prioritizing the right thing, which is my family," she said. “Know what your values are and what your non-negotiables are," she emphasized.

Ultimately, Aiosa says we all have a role to play in making our workplaces more supportive and inclusive. “You don't need a title to be a leader," she said.