Women Behind PHOENIX: Nazende Günday-Türeli
In honor of International Women’s Day, we are highlighting just a few of the many women behind the scenes at PHOENIX-OITB. This interview series takes a look at their career paths, frustrations and inspiration. For the first interview, we sat down with PHOENIX-OITB Scientific Coordinator Dr. Nazende Günday-Türeli (MyBiotech).
Job title: Chief Innovation and Technology Officer at MyBiotech
Role in PHOENIX: Scientific Coordinator
Nazende, tell us a bit about your position and your role in the PHOENIX.
I am Nazende Günday-Türeli, Chief Innovation and Technology Officer at MyBiotech, responsible for strategic development and innovation management at all levels to align MyBiotech’s strategic initiatives and future goals. And I am the Scientific Coordinator of PHOENIX, working closely with all Work Package Leaders to sync all the implementation efforts so that this challenging project reaches its goal smoothly.
How did you end up where you are? Was it a straight path or did it take you along many curves?
I decorated my career to equip me with theoretical and practical knowledge along different stages of the value chain of pharma products from discovery to preclinics, from development to GMP manufacturing. This meant starting from scratch to put a new brick on the wall whenever I started a new area. And well, it was definitely a hard road and wasn’t always easy with lots of ups and downs. I wouldn’t be lying if I say that I am self-made, which meant dedicating vast amounts of effort to end up where I am.
In its shorted and most compressed version: I accepted the challenge to be one of the three people actively building a start-up SME focusing on the innovative pharmaceuticals by using key enabling technologies. It took us years to build a strong network and it meant long hours for establishing services, products and technologies. Now we are collecting the fruits of our labor and we are known as a trusted company of choice across Europe. Once the company was settled and running smoothly, I decided that it was time for a new challenge: entering the innovation management with all means of business support from R&D until market entry. Again, a lot of new skills to gain…
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is that every day I have to either learn something new, to be always up to date – even ahead of the current state in my field – or to find solutions to problems with unmet needs, which is also not very straightforward. No other job could nourish my curious character! I am very sure that I am doing the right job and thankful that I chose the hard road and left my comfort zone at very early stages of my career.
Who are your role models?
It is hard to list every single name but many people that I encountered thus far have shaped me to the person I am today. I am an observer and pay attention to the finest qualities of the people to absorb as we all as the meanest to avoid.
Is your field welcoming to women? Has sexism affected your career trajectory?
Well, if we are referring to the pharma industry, this field can be listed as one of the most women-dominated ones and I cannot complain about it – but it doesn’t mean sexism is absent. During the first years as I took prominent roles in this field, I remember being unsettled by an “old boys band” (I used to call them), who made women/me feel they/I didn’t belong to the “genius” table moving the field. But self-confidence and knowing your value is the key.
Do you have tips for dealing with sexism in the workplace?
It is not your fault, and is unacceptable, so don’t be shy. You don’t have to tolerate it. Stand your ground and stand up for your rights, call out double standards and discourage sexism. Sometimes you vocalising it can also help and encourage others those who can’t.
What advice can you give to young women contemplating a career in your field?
We, as women taking prominent and leading roles in the industry, help to shape the field and make the workplace a more welcoming environment to other women. This gender gap will be reduced by our efforts. We must pave the way for the next generations.