Katy McMillan

Katy McMillan

Director, Global Sustainability Corporate Affairs, AstraZeneca, London
Bachelor of Communication Studies in Public Relations

What she loves most about her role is that it has a really strong sense of purpose, says communication studies alumna Katy McMillan who is now based in the UK and works for pharmaceutical and biotechnology giant AstraZeneca.

“Working for a healthcare company, we have a really strong sense of purpose; driving access to healthcare and strengthening health systems. Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on low and middle-income countries, is one example of our equitable access strategy in action that I’m really proud of.

“I currently look after all our external engagements and communications linked to our global sustainability agenda. We have a really strong story to tell, being one of the first seven companies to have our decarbonisation targets approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative. My work is challenging yet rewarding, and each day I get to work alongside brilliant minds.”

Over the last 15 years, Katy has had the opportunity to work in communications and PR roles across different countries and different sectors, but what she is most proud of is being a role model for her two young daughters.

“I started my career in NZ, then moved to Australia and eventually to the UK, and in my global role I’ve travelled the world and worked with so many different cultures and people. I’m proud of the resilience I’ve shown as I have adapted to new challenges and grown in my career. I’m also proud to be a working mum – I have two daughters, and hope that I can be a role model to them and others as we look to improve the gender gap.”

Finding her path
Katy may have built a highly successful global PR career, but she admits that she had a very different career in mind when she first started university.

“I actually always wanted to be a TV journalist, and AUT’s Bachelor of Communication Studies seemed the best degree to choose to achieve that. My path changed slightly in my second year, when we had a lecturer, Aline Sandilands, who had worked at TVNZ and talked about all the amazing opportunities and work she had done in PR. I switched my chosen major instantly and haven’t looked back!”

More than a decade later, she still has fond memories of her time at AUT.

“I had lots of highlights while I was studying at AUT. I met some great friends, had the opportunity to work on some fun and challenging projects, and secured a fantastic placement working at Fonterra during my study.”

Advice for other students
Katy, who graduated from AUT in 2008, has some great advice for other students who are only at the start of their university journey and their career.

“You’re responsible for your own career development – take hold of every opportunity that is thrown your way and continue to invest time in learning.”

Her other piece of advice is simple: you shouldn’t be afraid to speak up.

“Don’t be scared to ask questions or challenge the answer.”