How twin sisters inspired one another’s careers and Chicago Booth MBA journeys.
- By December 07, 2020
- Booth Women
Twin sisters Lydie Roux, ’08 (EXP-13), and Laurence Roux, ’11 (EXP-16), have a lot more than looks in common: they both graduated from Booth’s Executive MBA Program in London, they share a passion for improving people’s lives, and they’re executives at top pharmaceutical companies: Lydie is vice president and general manager at Novo Nordisk and Laurence is corporate strategy lead at Sanofi.
“When Lydie, my globe-trotting sister, got a job offer from Novo Nordisk, I said, ‘Okay, it’s my biggest competitor, but it’s really a great company so you should do it,’” Laurence says. “We decided to not discuss business anymore.”
Years later, the twins have successfully kept their professional lives separate, and they remain close personally, despite being separated right now by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as distance—one being based in France and the other in various countries, including Tunisia. While they can no longer hop on a plane for a quick weekend visit, they talk frequently over video calls.
When they look back on how they got to where they are now, both women attribute much of their professional success to their time at Booth. Lydie said the strategy skills she gained have been immensely helpful as she oversees big pharma’s strategy, business operations, and general management for teams in Tunisia, Turkey, Spain, and France.
“With Booth, I more deeply understood the power of being culturally competent in order to appropriately react to nuanced differences,” Lydie said. “Being curious, asking questions, really being open to different points of view, and empathizing is key. Booth gave me an amazing tool kit that just opened up my brain and allowed me to acknowledge my own cultural biases and assumptions, which made me very agile.”
“With Booth, I more deeply understood the power of being culturally competent in order to appropriately react to nuanced differences. Being curious, asking questions, really being open to different points of view, and empathizing is key.”
Laurence agreed, and pointed to professor Richard H. Thaler’s lessons on nudge theory as a prime example of how to effectively influence behavior in people or teams’ decision-making. A few years ago, she ended up working with Thaler, the Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics, to create nudges that would remind Sanofi’s diabetes patients to properly manage their disease.
“For me it was great, because I brought to Sanofi an innovative way to talk to patients, and I received a lot of praise for it,” she said. After Thaler won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2017, Laurence received even more praise in her company, and she became renowned as the woman who brought Thaler to Sanofi.
Lydie attended Booth in 2007 with the dream of pivoting from a career in strategy consulting to pharma—the same industry her sister worked in—which she saw as a way to impact people’s everyday lives for the better. “You have this nice feeling that you are doing something useful for thousands or even millions of people, a meaningful purpose at work,” Lydie said.
Lydie, who went to Booth first, actually inspired Laurence to follow in her footsteps. “I saw a change in my twin’s way of thinking,” Laurence said. “I was a little bit amazed by the helicopter view she gained. The first door that opened was a leadership position with the second biggest affiliate in the world: the giant MSD-Merck. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s quite impressive. I definitely need to do this.’”
Although Lydie had graduated by the time Laurence started at Booth, they were actively involved in one another’s MBA journeys. They talked each other through stressful exams, shared advice, and attended many Booth events together in London and Chicago.
“When I started, my sister was kind of my sponsor,” Lydie said. “And once she made the MBA, I did the same thing for her. Even if we were not studying together, we really lived this experience together.”