In the last few decades women have made headway into a range of industries. Yet, when it comes to manufacturing, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last year that women make up just 29 percent of the workforce.
The picture is a little different in pharma, where women comprise about 42 percent of the industry — until you look at the top, where there are far fewer women in management and leadership positions.
How are women breaking into the upper echelons of pharma? Earlier this year, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing’s parent company, Putman Media, and our sponsor, Rockwell Automation, launched an annual program to honor and learn from top female leaders throughout manufacturing. The initiative, called Influential Women in Manufacturing, elicited over 100 nominations for women affecting change in a variety of sectors, of which, 22 were selected to be given the award. That winners’ pool included these five women from pharma.
Supervisor of validation
Children’s GMP LLC
When Jan Lindsey landed her job at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, she found herself in a dream role.
“As opportunities arose, I moved out of the clinical lab and into quality assurance,” she says.
At Children’s GMP Lindsey now oversees the calibration and maintenance of more than 2,000 pieces of equipment, ensuring that the GMP facility’s biological and cellular therapy products are manufactured using equipment that meets strict federal guidelines. It’s no small task and is one that plays a critical role in helping children suffering from a range of illnesses. Lindsey directs equipment, process, and hardware/software validation projects, all while mentoring other women in her department and helping to open new doors for their careers. She says that increasing female leadership roles is one part of the job she would like to change — and has set her sights on doing just that.
Best advice you’ve received: Ask questions and keep asking questions.
What is the most exciting frontier in pharma? Cellular therapies.
What advice would you give a young woman entering your industry? Work hard, you are not entitled to anything. Put in your time and do your homework.
Rebecca Holland New
Executive Vice President for global business management
Thermo Fisher Scientific
Rebecca Holland New has been passionate about working with patient needs for a very long time.
“I have friends and family that have benefitted from the advances in medicine and I find that very satisfying from a career perspective,” she says.
That drive has helped propel her to the upper ranks of Thermo Fisher Scientific, which she became a part of after it acquired Patheon in 2017. At Patheon, Holland New made a name for herself overhauling the company’s organizational culture and business strategy, which helped drive revenue from $650 million to $1.5 billion in five years.
Improving efficiencies for both her company and clientele remains a top goal for Holland New at Thermo Fisher, where she is focused on helping customers simplify their complex supply chain needs. Holland New says she is also proudest when she can nurture talent and help members of her team move up within the company.
Best advice you’ve received: Not everything needs to be an “A.”
What is the most exciting frontier in pharma? The direction of precision medicine. Thermo Fisher is at the forefront of this effort where technology, data and clinical expertise combine to dramatically improve population health, better diagnose and treat disease and accelerate the discovery and use of new medicines.
What advice would you give a young woman entering your industry? It is important to have an intellectual curiosity about the business and how it works. To be an effective leader, one must understand how the business actually works from top to bottom.
Senior process control engineer
There’s no shortage of impressive accomplishments in Rachelle Howard’s career.
While pursuing her Ph.D. in chemical engineering and process control at the University of Connecticut, Howard developed a novel method for assessing control-loop performance that a colleague says “helped to advance the state of plant-wide process monitoring and diagnostic technologies.”
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Armed with an innovative mindset, Howard has made similar strides at Vertex Pharmaceuticals where she is the automation lead in the development, implementation and continuous improvement of the industry’s first commercially approved continuous manufacturing process.
Despite these accomplishments, Howard says that in an industry dominated by men, she’s felt the need to work harder to prove her strengths and dedication. Now in her leadership role, Howard has worked hard to support other women in her field by staying active in a company-sponsored Women in Leadership initiative, serving as an informal mentor to other female engineers, and volunteering for STEM and reading outreach programs at local grade schools.