Civic engagement has always been important to Stéphane Roques, and he struggled with the decision between management and medicine as his course of study. Ultimately, he combined the two as Biotherapies Institute COO (AFM-Telethon) and then as General Manager, Médecins Sans Frontières France (MSF)—Doctors Without Borders - France. He is also part of the MSF Movement Executive Committee.
Roques’s objective was to integrate the not-for-profit sector, and he has a strong commitment to change the system and fight against injustices.
Roques graduated the Master Grande Ecole NEOMA BS in 1995 and earned a first-degree diploma in sociology. He organized his studies with the objective of integrating MSF (Doctors Without Borders) right after school. As this organization does not recruit people without professional experience, he joined the audit firm that controlled MSF, with a commitment to be assigned to this client and engaged himself in the development of audit and consulting for nonprofit organizations. Roques is convinced that the nonprofit sector can achieve more impact with the adoption and integration of some managerial methods mostly often issued from enterprises, adapting them to their specific needs and ensuring a permanent balance between activism/militancy and professionalism.
The fact that health must not and cannot be regarded as an economic good as others has guided his career for 21 years, both in the AFM-Telethon group for 12 years—a patient organization fighting against rare diseases—and in MSF he first “joined” as a controller in 1994. He then dedicated one year to MSF on the field as a volunteer during a sabbatical in 1998, became later MSF board member for 8 years, before being appointed General Manager of MSF France in 2013.
The objective is the same in both organizations: to offer the best possible care and treatment opportunities for patients who are not a priority for health systems or pharmaceutical industries, mainly because they do not represent an attractive market (whether few patients with standard revenues or a lot of patients but poor).
Some of Roques’s contributions include within AFM-Telethon the strong development of two broad R&D centers dedicated to innovative therapies (the Myology-Institute and Genethon) and then the design and launch of the Biotherapies Institute (holding of 4 R&D centres hosting 600 researchers). With MSF, Roques's contribution includes the reorganization of the historic section of MSF in Paris, bringing more autonomy to the field (35 intervention countries) for greater efficiency of operations and incentives to take initiatives. He has made a strong contribution to the conceptualization and negotiation of the Resource Sharing Agreement within the 25 sections of the international MSF movement. Roques also sponsored on behalf of MSF an ambitious project of treatment of multi-resistant tuberculosis including complex clinical trials, a 60 million EUR project over five years, in partnership with two other international health actors.