Meet HBA Indianapolis member Maria Bass in our Black History Month interview series

In February, we have the honor of celebrating Black History Month. Black history month offers a time to honor the achievements of African Americans and the central role they have played in shaping our history. The 2018 Black History Theme is “African Americans in Times of War.”  Please join us throughout the month, via our social media channels, in hearing from a few of our own HBA team members as they tell us what this month means to them, female African American role models they admire, and how HBA is helping them grow. 
We are grateful for Maria Bass joining us for the first interview.
Maria has been engaged with the HBA for several years, and has served in various committee roles, most recently as director at large of market research. She was awarded with HBA Indianapolis’ “Purple Socks Award” for her outstanding contributions in 2017. She also promotes the HBA’s vision at her workplace through continuous involvement with Roche’s “Women Leadership Initiative”.
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career, please
I began working at Roche nearly 20 years ago. I joined Roche Diagnostics in July 1998, where I began as a material handler supporting the shipping/receiving and production support departments, then moved to the diabetes care Mmnufacturing area in 2002. I held progressively responsible manufacturing positions including production technician, process lead, manufacturing specialist and the leadership role of manufacturing supervisor. While working at Roche, I earned my bachelor’s degree in business management and a master’s degree in organizational leadership in 2010. In 2014, I obtained a position in a Strategic Rotational Leadership program (a rotational leadership development program that is specifically designed to provide opportunities for individuals to build and enhance their leadership skills, while broadening their knowledge base within the organization) in which I’ve now completed two “rotations”, which were the roles of master scheduler and financial business analyst. I’m currently in the role of portfolio and project management services manager in the research and development department. 

2) What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month to me, is an opportunity for the world to see and appreciate what other people have done in their community and worldwide, providing hope for the future. For the men and women of color who paved a way for all of us through their hard work, strength and perseverance, as well as those who died fighting for equality for people of color. Black History Month is sort of like center stage for black history, but in speaking for myself, black history is reflected upon,  appreciated and celebrated throughout the year. From an individual perspective, it’s a time to reflect on what I can do for my community. It’s a matter of me thinking about overall when I’m no longer here on Earth, what did I contribute to the world?! What did I do to inspire others? How did I help those around me? It’s seeing and learning from the past and using it as a guide for our future.

3) This year's Black History Month's theme is "African Americans in Times of War". Is there an African American woman in times of turmoil that inspires you, and why? What about a person from today?
A person that has inspired me today is Michelle Obama. It isn’t because she was the first lady of the United States, it’s because of who she genuinely is as a person. She has strong character, she’s compassionate, self-confident, a powerful speaker, graceful under pressure, relatable, and has perseverance. Not only is her resume impressive and extensive, it exemplifies her passion for public service and her dedication to education and expanding opportunities for all American citizens. Learning that Michelle was not brought up in wealth and privilege and came from a working class family, with neither of her parents going to college is something that I can relate to as I was the first of my parents children to graduate from college. Prior to her “rise to fame”, she was already an accomplished lawyer, writer and community activist. Her ability to motivate, inspire and called others to action is rooted in her strong personality. Her strong character has helped her fight for social issues, regardless of how controversial they seemed. I also admire the way that she “gives back.”
We should always have three friends in our lives: one who walks ahead, who we look up to and follow; one who walks beside us, who is with us every step of our journey; and then, one who we reach back for and bring along after we’ve cleared the way.” – Michelle Obama

4) How has the HBA helped you to become the leader you are today?
My experience with the HBA has provided me with multiple opportunities for growth and development both personally and professionally. Through attendance and participation of events held by the HBA as well as my previous leadership role of director at large of market research with HBA Indianapolis, I’ve been able to stretch beyond my most recent roles at Roche. I gained knowledge and experience in market research, in defining strategic and tactical goals, in gaining an enhanced understanding of organizational finances, as well as the opportunity to learn from other healthcare business leaders and professionals. The knowledge and skills that I’ve gained from HBA has not only allowed me to add value to the HBA, but add value to my organization as well.

5) What could the HBA be doing that we aren’t currently doing to support women like you?
I believe that the HBA is already doing the things that are needed to support women such as myself. With the programming and events that they offer, along with their focus on gender parity (even working to create collaborative efforts for gender parity within other organizations), I think they’re doing just fine at this point.
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