Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.
Hi all! I'm Anisa Mohammed and i'm originally from the Boston area, currently living in the outskirts of NYC. I'm a Pakistani-Scottish-American (closely identify with all 3 ethnicities) woman who's spent the last 9 years working in the pharmaceutical industry and life sciences consulting across various therapeutic areas including oncology, neurology and rare disease. I'm currently a Clinical Trial Leader at Novartis Pharmaceuticals where I oversee the development and execution of global early phase oncology clinical trials. In addition, I'm pursuing my Executive MBA at Rutgers Business School and a member of the class leadership team, serving as Class Vice President. I have a passion for mentoring others, giving back to society, making a difference in the lives of patients and advancing women's initiatives.
Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?
I am very new to Ellevate, just joining the network a couple of months ago! I have enjoyed reading the various articles and listening to podcasts. I recently joined my first "Squad" and so far love the group of diverse and talented women in my squad. As an EMBA candidate at Rutgers Business School, I became involved in the Rutgers Center for Women in Business (CWIB), which aims to create opportunities to empower women with the necessary skills and confidence to succeed as business women leaders - a mission I very much align with, and that ties closely with Ellevate as well. Through the CWIB, I got to know the Center's Co-Founder and Executive Director, Professor Lisa Kaplowitz, who is wonderful and so unbelievably talented. Prof Kaplowitz introduced the EMBA women to Ellevate and i'm grateful to her for providing us the opportunity to join this global network of talented women!
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
The qualities it takes for someone to be successful in clinical research and pharma are: being detail-oriented, strong organizational and communication skills, an ability to juggle multiple projects and priorities with a sense of urgency, collaboration (drug development is a team sport!), a passion for science and developing life-saving therapies.
We’d love to hear more about your career path. What led you to where you are today?
Growing up, I thought I wanted to be a pharmacist - like my aunt. I had a passion for science and did well in the math and science subjects. So after I graduated high school, I enrolled in a six year Doctor of Pharmacy program. While pursuing PharmD, I worked part-time as a pharmacy technician at Rite Aid Pharmacy for a few years. What I quickly realized is that although I enjoyed learning about medications and their uses and side effects, I didn't enjoy the retail pharmacy environment, and couldn't fathom being on my feet for 10-12 hours a day filling hundreds of prescriptions day in and day out. Being in a health sciences university, I decided to explore and take a few health care business courses (FDA & Regulatory Affairs, Pharmaceutical Marketing, Business Law etc) - and to my surprise, I really enjoyed them! So, I decided to switch my major from PharmD into a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical and Health Care Business - a degree that nicely combined hard sciences with health care management courses. After finishing up my BS, I knew I wanted to work in a corporate environment such as drug development, where I still could make a meaningful impact in patients lives. Upon graduating, I entered the pharma industry and haven't regretted my decision since!
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is being involved in clinical trials for cancer patients, and seeing the incredible responses patients are having to investigational treatments I am involved in developing with my colleagues at Novartis. In addition, I really enjoy helping and mentoring PharmD Fellows and associates in my group - to achieve their highest potential.
What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?
The flexibility, culture, great science, talented people, fantastic leadership and growth opportunities. I'm fortunate to work for a company that provides access to sabbaticals, mentoring programs, and really takes the time to invest in its people.
Who are your role models?
My mother is my ultimate role model. She got married at a young age, just after finishing high school, and at the time was unable to continue pursuing further education, despite having a burning desire to study immunology. After getting married and having 3 children, while also working part-time in retail, she decided to go back to obtain her undergraduate degree in Math Education (pursuing it in the evenings, taking evening classes) and graduated at the top of her class. Even before she fully completed her undergrad degree, she was teaching math to high school students. Upon finishing her undergraduate degree, she decided she didn't want to stop there! She was accepted into a graduate program at Harvard University and now has both an undergrad and graduate degree. She currently teaches AP Calculus to high school juniors and seniors in the same high school I attended. My mother is my role model because she has always instilled in me the value of perseverance and never giving up, along with believing that hard work really does pay off!
What does success look like to you?
Success to me is being on a path to be the best version of myself each and every day. I believe I am successful when I feel like I have a purpose, make a meaningful impact on people, bring a smile to someone's face, practice gratitude, continue to learn something new on a daily basis, and consistently challenge myself to work hard to achieve my goals.
Is work-life balance a problem for you? What is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
YES! At the moment there isn't much of a work-LIFE balance, but we're still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic also! These days i'm working full time in pharma and also in school on the weekends (which is also a full-time course workload)! I find pockets in my day to pray, which takes me out of the go-go-go mindset, and helps me focus more on myself, God and religion. I also strive to take a walk outside for 30-45 mins each day during lunch time or after work - being outdoors in nature puts my mind at ease, helps restore my focus and instill a positive mindset.
What is the best career advice you ever received?
"Every person you meet is a potential door to a new opportunity—personally or professionally." I really believe the connections i've built over time have helped shape me into the woman and professional I am today. Receiving this advice early on really helped me to prioritize networking and building and maintaining relationships with others.
Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.
Clinical Trial Leader II
I have 9 years of experience in pharma, biotech and life sciences consulting in various areas of research and development, including translational medicine, regulatory affairs and clinical development. I have worked across a variety of therapeutic areas including oncology/hematology, neurology and rare disease. I have a passion and interest in women's leadership, networking, managing people & teams and mentoring. I'm currently pursing an Executive MBA at Rutgers Business School and also serve on the class... Continue Reading
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