Senior Scientific Manager – R&D
Senior Scientific Manager – R&D
Don’t let anyone tell you what you should become in life just because you are a woman. Let your imagination, curiosity and creativity guide you in making those decisions.
As a student, what inspired you to build your career in science?
Coming from a lower middle-income background, the emphasis from parents was only on education, financial independence and not on science. However, with both my parents being science graduates, it was probably in my DNA already. Besides, my father was my first inspiration — forever finding science in everything he did, from cooking to cleaning to making soaps. In college, I was lucky to find friends who would talk and breathe (if you can believe it) chemistry with a passion beyond imagination. We would hit the library every day after college to learn about new ideas and inventions, the Nobel laureates, and their discoveries, and then having passionate and heated discussions. I vividly remember one hot summer day when I was in my last year of my undergrad, standing before the Connemara library (Chennai) with my friend and bawling at the possibility of never being able to discuss science again if we do not get to continue our education. As it turned out, I did go on to do a Masters and then got a Doctorate in chemistry. This is to say that I did not shy away from exploring other opportunities, like MBA, right after my Masters, but chose to pursue a Ph.D., thus continuing my journey in science. A case in point — my passion for science has dictated my career choices.
Did you face any hurdles on your journey as a woman pursuing science as a career choice? How did you overcome the hurdle?
I took a break in my career after having children. The plan was to return after a year. But, with the economy not doing well (where I was living), it was hard to find a job. With the career break becoming longer, the opportunities to get back into the industry became more difficult. Those were the hardest years of my life. During this time, I chose to rekindle my passion for science by teaching in community colleges and mentoring single mothers and working students. I will always be grateful to Biocon for giving me an opportunity to find my way back into the industry.
What keeps you motivated in your career journey?
My motivation stems from the fact that I love technical challenges. What inspires and drives me is the data I get to work with. Most times, it is just routine experiments and crazy timelines. Occasionally, something comes along that is like a puzzle to be solved and that ‘aha’ moment when everything fits keeps the motivation going. The impetus and fulfilment also come when milestones are achieved, like new drug applications, clinical trial data or the final approval of a drug. I also enjoy mentoring young minds and keeping myself updated with the latest in the field.
Tell us about your journey with Biocon/the role that Biocon has played in your journey of growth.
At Biocon, I am the functional lead for physicochemical methods for drugs pertaining to autoimmune diseases. I have been lucky to work in a great environment for science. I have been with Biocon for almost 6 years now and have seen drug development, from its commencement to the scale-up and beyond, and it has been a very inspirational journey for me. In addition, there are some great intellectual minds in R&D, leading to some stimulating discussions and mentoring which keeps the motivation going, The flexibility that Biocon offers for women like myself, has also been very helpful in fulfilling my goals.
A message/advice for aspiring young women scientists.
Don’t let anyone tell you what you should become in life just because you are a woman. Let your imagination, curiosity and creativity guide you in making those decisions. Being a woman in science is not particularly harder than in other professions. On the contrary, it can lead to a very fulfilling and gratifying experience.