On the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science
by Luana Banu, Head of Public Policy, Communications and Patient Advocacy | Takeda
“I was expecting a team of men in suits!” That was the preconception of a university student who came and worked with us at Takeda as an intern. She was pleasantly surprised by our diverse team - led by a woman, too! - and realized that “you can be successful professionally AND have a family”.
These observations got me thinking about preconceived ideas and stereotypes, and how these can often have a profound impact on whether we take a next step in our professional lives, or not.
I also realized how gender roles are still questioned today. For many young women, the dilemma remains: can I really have it all? I think you can be and achieve what you desire, but no one can be or have it all, this is not the right question.
I believe that you do not need to be a “man in a suit”, or a scientist, to work in the pharmaceutical industry. Its complex ecosystem requires different educational backgrounds and capabilities. There is room for many talents. As an expert in Public Policy, not a scientist, I am the living example.
For me it all started with my passion for reading the classics, which led me to study Political Sciences. This reinforced my interest in the world’s toughest problems. I wanted to be part of solving them. Public policy has a significant influence on our freedoms, human rights and socio-economic progress. I appreciated its impact firsthand, when working in the US within a center providing healthcare for uninsured and homeless people.
My husband, a physician working in Research & Development, introduced me to the Pharma industry. When I started to work in Switzerland, I was inspired by the purpose of improving lives with medical innovations, combined with the intellectual stimulation provided by science, people, and business.
I see my job as an ambassador that brings business needs to society and society’s needs to the business. I also see the importance of sharing my story as a female leader to encourage other women to follow their professional passions. To them I offer three personal observations:
1 – Find your sponsor: the turning point in my career was a manager who believed in and trusted me. Under her leadership, I gained confidence and flourished.
2 – Get all the help you can: as a mother and a professional, I rely on a great support network at home, and on a fantastic team at work.
3 – Choose impact over perfection: understand what matters to you and set your own rules accordingly. Be curious, give yourself permission to make mistakes and learn.
As an optimist at heart, my motto is: do your best and do not forget, there will always be a next time!