UNDERSTANDING OUR DIFFERENCES TO DEMOCRATIZE DATA-DRIVEN MEDICINE, TOGETHER

I think I’ve always been a scientist at heart. As a child, I was always very curious. I wanted to learn new things all the time and to look at “known facts” from another point of view. For example, my brother was born with Down Syndrome and I wanted to understand more about his diagnosis. This got me interested in Biology at an early age.

I studied Genetics at the Università degli studi di Pavia in Italy. Then, I went on to get my PhD in Germany and that’s where my journey into genetic sequencing began. During my PhD, I met my husband and we looked for opportunities in different countries. We ended up living in the UK for about ten years. I also did a postdoc there, but I realized research wasn’t really my thing.

My next move was to take a job as manager in a sequencing facility. I really enjoyed it, but there was no development. So, I went on to work in technical support at the large microarray company, Affymetrix. After that, I took a job doing software support for Invitrogen, which became Life Technologies and is now Thermo Fisher. My husband and I had always wanted to live in Australia, so we applied for permanent residency and moved in 2009.

I’m a big believer that everything works out when you plan it right. I had several different jobs, both within biotech and outside of the industry, including as a technical support and field application specialist for two of the largest sequencing facilities, Thermo Fisher and Illumina. I had the time of my life, but I wanted to try something new.

I experimented with a role in marketing and a Masters in radiation therapy, which was completely different from anything I had done before but unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. When I saw an open position for a Subject Matter Expert in the APAC region for SOPHiA GENETICS, I thought, “This is me. This is what I’m good at.”

Every day is an experience at SOPHiA GENETICS. There are some days where I take time for self-learning and other days where, because of the complex challenges of this region, I help other people with their studying and learning. I also reach out to customers to help them solve issues and answer their questions so that they can get the most out of our technologies.

I’m responsible for Japan, Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand, so I travel frequently to visit customers and deliver workshops in front of anywhere from 20 to 60 people. The cultural differences can be very challenging. Many times, people do not speak English as a second language and the business culture is very different. You have to be patient, understanding and you have to have an acceptance of differences. You have to understand that addressing and embracing our differences together make us stronger and helps us survive as a species.

What keeps me excited about the work is that I’m always seeing something different, something new. The people I work with are all so different. Everyone has had a completely unique life experience. You spend time with people who are so different than you, but we all have the same goal. We all want to make our customers happy and to be recognized for what we do, and at SOPHiA GENETICS we’re fortunate to have those opportunities.