Csilla Csoboth is a Senior Training Manager at Genentech. Having worked in in the pharmaceutical industry for over 12 years, she has worn many hats and traveled the world throughout her Life Sciences career. Csilla is also the Regional Lead for Healthcare Business Women's Association Women in Science (WiS) Affinity Group in the Pacific Region. We sat down to chat with her about the different experiences she’s learned from and how it helped lead her to her current position.

On pursuing experiences in other countries.

CSILLA CSOBOTH: I was born here in San Francisco and raised in a bicultural environment. I speak both English and Hungarian fluently. After I finished high school, I wanted to explore my homeland, so I went to Budapest, Hungary to the Semmelweis University to study medicine. I completed my medical degree, and then stayed in Hungary for 20 years to pursue a career in medicine.

On adapting her career choices to the opportunities available.

CC: When I finished medical school, I thought I would become a pediatrician. But, a person I interviewed pointed out that the population of Hungary was declining, and while there were plenty of pediatricians, there were not enough kids. That lead me to rethink some things—I have found that you have to be flexible to grow your career. I ended up at a pharmaceutical company as a sales representative and then joined the Behavioral Sciences Institute at Semmelweis University in Budapest, where I pursued a career in Psychiatry and my PhD in women’s mental health.

On the pivotal moment in her career.

CC: After many years in Hungary, I realized that I wanted to move back to the United States to be close to my parents. I needed to make it happen and make a career change coming from academia. It’s not easy to step into the business world without industry experience, especially coming from another country and not having the right connections. I looked for ways to connect my academic experience with business and ended up finding a role as a medical science liaison with a pharmaceutical company.

On the navigating the differences in work culture between countries.

CC: Communication styles differ between the continents and cultures. I’ve realized that when I’m in Hungary, I am very American in my communication. I am very open, very dynamic, smiling all the time, etc. Yet, when I’m in the U.S. I feel like I’m more European. I’m considered to be more reserved. In Europe, that is to my advantage. In the United States I have to make sure that I conform to the more open styles of communication.

On bringing a multicultural background to the table.

CC: I think my multicultural experiences bring tremendous value. Because I have both the U.S. and the European perspective, I can relate really well to the European perspective, which is valuable when we’re having global discussions. Even to have a point of view that is different than a “pure” U.S. perspective, adds value in the workplace.

And it’s not only the nationality, but also that I come from academia and now work in business, which are also two very different cultures. So, I not only bring biculturality from a country and region perspective, but also a workplace culture perspective. This adds to my ability to look at situations in new ways and better understand different perspectives.

One what she’s most proud of in her career.

CC: I initiated and led a health promotion program for women in Hungary. It was a national program called Better Health for Women. We started it in 1998 through a grant that we received from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, and it led to multifaceted health promotion programs and research. It really made a difference, and research work continued even after I left Hungary.

On looking back at her international career.

CC: I’m still looking forward to the many more twists and turns that will come my way and not only enrich my life, but truly make a difference in others’ lives—that is my biggest hope. I have had tremendously rich life experiences, and it’s exciting. I’m learning new things all the time. I have had experiences that I wouldn’t have had without taking these turns in my career and my life. And I have no regrets—I can’t imagine doing things any other way.

How to find others who share a similar career and passion for life sciences.

One of the things I’m also passionate about is staying connected to others who work in life sciences and healthcare. I’m active in the Healthcare Business Women’s Association Women in Science (WiS) affinity group in the Pacific Region, which provides women in scientific roles with resources, programs, and initiatives to support their career success and to create networking and development opportunities. The group invites women with a medical or scientific degree and/or women working in a research, medical, or regulatory function within the healthcare industry to join.

You can check out the WiS web-page by clicking here. You can also ask to join the HBA WiS LinkedIn group to learn about news and events. I hope to see you at an event soon!

This blog is part of a series that focuses on individual journeys of the women in life sciences who are driving change to how we develop and deliver better patient outcomes.

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