We recently sat down with Claudia Tilli, Global Trial Forecast Development Unit Head for Transformative Business Operations (TBO) at Novartis, to discuss her journey through the life sciences industry. During our discussion, Claudia spoke of her inspiration, working as part of a team, and mentorship. She has fostered a great career by being an exceptional teammate and using advice and inspiration from others.

On her inspiration to become a biochemist.

Claudia Tilli: At secondary school, I had a chemistry teacher who let us perform many interesting experiments in the lab. I was introduced, as part of that, to biochemistry. This coincided with the time that my mother was unfortunately diagnosed with breast cancer. I wanted to know more about cancer, and in general how the body works. Thinking forward, my vision was to understand how we can learn more about diseases to ensure we administer the right medicine at the right time.

My mum was a pharmacist when she was younger and was very proud that I was going into a related field. Along with her appreciation for the field, she transmitted to me her never-ending curiosity, always eager to learn new things, a value that I still cherish and hope to transmit to others as well.

On transitioning out of a career in the lab.

CT: It was a very easy decision. I could apply everything that I learned into a new role where I could be much closer to the patient. Having a direct impact on patients’ lives after going through the cancer treatment with my mum, was extremely important to me, and still is. I truly believe that at Novartis, everyone contributes to the success for the patients, whether you are a cleaner, or whether you work in research and development or in forecast planning. So, for me it was a natural progression.

On the key to success in her career.

CT: I think the biggest change that I had to go through, the biggest strength I had to develop, was to go from working in the lab, which is quite individual, to working as a part of a team. I came to see that in working as a team you can achieve much more than working as an individual, regardless of your expertise. I learned how to build effective relationships with peers and key stakeholders, to discover what drives them and how to collaborate towards a common goal. Ultimately, that goal is improving patient’s lives.

My leadership-journey will continue, and as a people manager I see it as my duty and privilege to empower others to unleash their potential to make a difference in the life sciences industry.

On her pride in the career path she’s chosen.

CT: I would not change anything in the career path I have followed so far. The experiences along my journey have taught me about my strengths and weaknesses and by expanding my self-awareness, allowed me to motivate myself as well as others. I am part of a global organization at Novartis that delivers agile, accurate and realistic forecasts that enable our senior management to make well-informed decisions on optimal investment into our portfolio. If I can contribute just a little bit to a patient getting a drug that they need, I’m happy. I have achieved the goal I set out to reach when I was at school inspired by my chemistry teacher I looked up to and when my mum was ill.

On her advice for others growing careers in Life Sciences.

CT: I would encourage everyone to seek a mentor. To me this has been instrumental in my development and leadership journey. I have learned to speak up, express what I want to achieve. Talk to people who inspire you, and who would be your ideal mentors. And, when you’re ready, mentor others. The best legacy for any leader is to develop new leaders and any experience that you have gained so far and any insight that you’ve derived from that, puts you way ahead of those just joining the organization or going through a transition. Reach out to help others, and you will gain just as much from the experience. And I think the most important thing that I’ve always held true to has been to trust who you are—to be authentic, show integrity, trust and stay true to your values.

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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