Employee Ambassador Spotlight: Natasha Philips


I am an Internal Communications Specialist within Corporate Affairs at Merck in the United Kingdom (UK). I am proud to share that in August later this year, I will have been with Merck for nine years. Prior to Merck I worked as a Public Health Commissioning Manager with a lead for sexual and reproductive health care services in both the National Health Service and Local Government in the UK. When the opportunity presented itself to work with Merck almost nine years ago, I applied and joined the women’s health team. Two years later, I moved into vaccines, which brings us to this year – where I now work in internal communications. Both of my first roles with Merck were field based, where I could be found working across Yorkshire and the North-East of England. In my free time, having completed the London Marathon in October 2022 I am now currently training to take on a full distance Triathlon in July and am paying my knowledge and skills forward as a Trustee for a UK Charity.

1. How long have you been an employee ambassador for Merck for Mothers?

Answer: I have been a part of the Merck for Mothers Employee Ambassador program for around eight years, and I’ve served as the UK employee ambassador lead for six years. I am honored to have passed the leadership baton to my colleague Emma Prosser this year. It has been inspiring to see how our team in the UK has moved from just sharing the Merck for Mothers’ mission internally to witnessing how we are truly making a difference.

One of the internal programs that we started was called March is for Mothers (Mother’s Day is in March in the UK), which informed people about the work we are doing through Merck for Mothers and the impact. As a part of this project, we also established “Run For Your Mum” which was a wonderful way to bring together the opportunity to talk about the initiative alongside employee well-being pre, during and post the COVID-19 pandemic.

All smiles ahead of the London Marathon, 2022
All smiles ahead of the London Marathon, 2022

2. Who or what inspired you to be involved in the Merck for Mothers Employee Ambassador program?

Answer: Quite simply, it was my prior knowledge and passion for the topic. When I first joined Merck, I was informed of the Merck for Mothers Employee Ambassador program, and I decided to attend a meeting. From there, I decided that I was going to connect with the UK team and see where I could be beneficial to the group to help spread their message and tell their stories.

Telling mothers’ stories through our program has been truly inspirational to me, however, above all, being a mum of three and having a background in public health has inspired me to begin and to continue this journey with the program. I believe that people should use every opportunity they have to pay forward their skills. This program has given me the opportunity to get involved, to tell a story and to share my skills back out to a charitable organization that is trying to make an impact for women, both in the UK and globally.

One of the many things about the Merck for Mothers program that I find particularly inspirational is that as a lead, I had the ability to enable others to grow their skillsets and take advantage of the many opportunities that our program lends to others. I also believe that through our program you gain other skills that will help you progress your career.

3. What activities have you found to be engaging with your colleagues, when raising awareness about maternal health?

Answer: The March is for Mothers and Run for Your Mum activities have been wonderful in past years at engaging colleagues throughout our company. Additionally, we’ve done several collaborations with the Women’s Network for International Women’s Day and with League of Employees of African Decent (LEAD) in relation to Black History Month, both opportunities to improve our awareness and understanding of the maternal health landscape and challenges in the UK. We’ve also leveraged International Day of the Midwife as an opportunity to talk about the work of the Merck for Mothers program and what we can do to move forward to enhance our mission.

An inspiring example of an external program we repurposed for the UK is the Postnatal Kits project, we call them Mumma Kits here in the UK. We worked with a charity to create and send kits to vulnerable mothers and families across the UK. We are currently exploring ways in which we can expand our opportunity to engage and support skills share through volunteering activities in 2023.

Ambassadors Emma, Nat and Mel
Ambassadors Emma, Nat and Mel

4. Can you share about a Merck for Mothers program you find particularly inspirational?

Answer: I really connected with the internal #PasstheStork social relay to celebrate Merck for Mothers’ 10-year anniversary and a decade of progress. The impact that the Merck for Mothers program has had globally in reducing maternal mortality is inspirational. I am proud that in the UK we, through support to the Postnatal Kits program, have played a role in this. Our UK based Muma kits initiative has also given us something physically tangible to demonstrate what we’ve accomplished as an organization – which I think is truly remarkable.

We often forget to look at the bigger picture of why we’re doing what we’re doing. Our primary focus is to ensure that the maternal mortality rates continue to decline and that we address inequalities in maternal health which, in doing so, will make pregnancies safer for women. These programs are powerful and have generated interest and inspired people to get involved within Merck in the UK.

Telling the Merck for Mothers story
Telling the Merck for Mothers story

5. Why should anyone join the Merck for Mothers Employee Ambassador program? Any advice for those interested?

Answer: Merck for Mothers is a fantastic program. Why you sign up is personal to you. You may decide to join because you are interested, or because you feel you have something to say or give back, or because you want to learn more.

Above all, the most important thing when joining a program like ours, is that you have the opportunity to make an impact and help create a world in which no mother dies giving life. But when you step up you will get to share and develop your skills, grow your networks and develop friendships across Merck and challenge yourself by doing something different from your day job.