Celebrating a Canvas of Cultures

Meet two members of our MENA employee resource group who share how the group has fostered a deeper sense of connection and helped advance their careers.




Read time: 4 minutes

A mosaic is a combination of many different parts coming together to form a beautiful final product. It’s perhaps fitting, then, that the official symbol of our Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) ERG is a mosaic, as it represents the rich array of cultures, arts, cuisines, histories and traditions that form this larger region.

In honor of Middle Eastern and North African Heritage month, the ERG is celebrating the vibrant diversity of their backgrounds with the theme, “Canvas of Cultures: The Brushstrokes of MENA.” We spoke with two members of MENA, who shared why the resource group has played a pivotal role in both their personal and professional lives.

Ream QatoReam Qato is a senior director of product strategy, market intelligence and categorical pricing on McKesson’s Strategic Pricing & Manufacturer Relations team. As a former pharmacist, she uses her clinical background to help inform McKesson’s perspective on key product categories across customer and manufacturer discussions and pricing strategies.


Sarah Al AliSarah Al Ali is a senior associate category manager for McKesson Canada’s “Own Brand” of private-label products for banner and other McKesson Canada-affiliated pharmacies. In her role, she is responsible for product innovations and analyzing market trends, as well as developing product strategies and category plans for all merchandising elements.


Why are you passionate about MENA?

Ream: I was born and raised in Chicago and am ethnically Palestinian. My parents are refugees who came to the U.S. to continue higher education in the early ‘80s.

As a child, I would often spend summers in Palestine. I fondly remember the relief I felt when I finally arrived after having to cross multiple borders from nearby Jordan.

I am passionate about MENA because it represents the assurance that, in my day-to-day work, I can still be authentic to my history and journey.

Sarah: My passion for the MENA region is deeply rooted in my personal history and the profound experiences I’ve gained within its borders. Born and raised in Lebanon and having worked across various countries in the region, including the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, MENA is more than just a region to me – it’s the fabric of my identity.

Beyond my professional and personal experiences, my close family still resides there, further strengthening my attachment and affection for these countries. This intricate blend of cultural immersion, professional endeavors, and familial connections fuels my passion for MENA, making it a region I hold dear to my heart.

How has joining and supporting the ERG impacted your career and overall time at McKesson?

Ream: In its early days, learning about all my colleagues that are from, had ties to, or were interested in the MENA region allowed me to increase my own authenticity at work.

Currently, the mere existence of the MENA ERG provides a safe space to discuss the unfortunate realities faced in the region. I am inspired by these people around the world who maintain their faith and righteous determination despite decades of oppression and subjugation. Their tests remind me to be grateful for the privileges I experience in my own health, employment, safety, and even the most basic freedom of movement. MENA provides a space where we are able to discuss these challenges as they impact our day-to-day.

Sarah: It’s profoundly impacted my career and time with the company in both tangible and intangible ways. The ERG has served as a crucial platform for connecting with leaders from the U.S. and Canada, significantly accelerating my professional growth and learning. This network has not only provided me with invaluable insights and guidance, but also motivated me to aspire toward making a positive impact within McKesson. At the heart of our mission is the commitment to supporting our communities in maintaining their health, and my role in owned brand category management plays into this by pushing me to think innovatively about products that can truly benefit the community.

MENA has been instrumental in broadening my network, offering access to an incredible mentorship program that has enriched my understanding and capabilities. Through these connections, I’ve been able to share my unique insights and experiences, having lived in and visited several MENA countries. This has allowed me to contribute significantly to our discussions, from recommending places to visit to suggesting the best Mediterranean restaurants in Toronto. The ERG's support has been pivotal in my journey at McKesson, enabling me to leverage my background and experiences to add value not just to the company, but to our wider community efforts. The mentorship and opportunities for engagement provided by MENA have been a cornerstone of my professional development, underscoring the importance of our roles in fostering health and well-being across the communities we serve.

If you could share one thing with colleagues that aren’t a member of MENA, what would it be?

Ream: Knafeh – a popular Middle Eastern sweet cheese pastry – from Nablus, Palestine beats any other Knafeh. The closest thing to it is in “Little Palestine,” a suburb of Chicago.

Sarah: I’d provide a concise introduction to the cultural subtleties, professional protocols, and communication customs commonly found in the MENA region. Recognizing these elements can enhance teamwork and cultivate mutual esteem among coworkers, regardless of their affiliation with the MENA community.