For many in the life sciences, career choices are as much about making a difference as they are about opportunity and earning potential. But women seeking top leadership roles still face gender challenges — though that’s starting to change, slowly. More women are finding real opportunity and a career path with the chance to change the world.

To discuss these changes, four female leaders from Takeda Pharmaceuticals sat down and shared their wisdom on the industry, diversity and their unique corporate culture.

Progress and challenges

“We've come a long way — and have a long way to go,” says Ramona Sequeira, president of Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc. “Industry-wide, you don't see as many women in leadership as you’d expect.”

“One thing I love about Takeda’s culture is it encourages intellectually curious and open-minded behavior. This breeds diversity of thought and ideas — to the ultimate benefit of patients.”

That rings true for Serina Fischer, head of commercial learning and development for field sales and commercial operations. “It’s true,” she says. “I’ve been the only female on 90 to 95 percent of the teams I've been on throughout my career.” 

However, the area within Takeda that Ramona leads is bucking that trend. “Women represent 54 percent of our U.S. workforce and 46 percent of all leadership positions are held by women,” says Ramona. 

“It still seems rare to see women heading up business units or being on a management team,” says Jessica Crosbie, senior director of forecasting. “Ramona is someone we can relate to and realize the possibilities for our careers are endless.”

A world of opportunity

Those endless possibilities are inherent to the industry. “The amazing thing about life science careers is that a diverse group of individuals and skills are needed,” Crosbie points out.

“There are so many opportunities for scientists in the pharmaceutical industry,” confirms Karen Lasch, executive medical director of therapeutic areas. “If you are a scientist who is curious and loves to learn, this industry could be for you.”

But you don’t need to be a scientist to succeed in health care. The key for young women considering their careers, the women agree, is a combination of passion and goals. “I have a college-age daughter,” notes Sequeira, “and I tell her, ‘think about what you love doing and not what job you want to have. Find work that you love and find a way to turn that into a career’.”

Crosbie enthusiastically agrees. “Pursue what you’re passionate about. Everyone needs passion for what they do so that they can make an impact.”

Making the difference

“When you work in health care, everybody talks about patients. It’s part of every company’s tagline,” says Fischer. “Takeda has a unique four-pillar framework to support patient-centricity — patient, trust, reputation, business. It guides everything. “

“We use this framework as an algorithm,” says Sequeira. “Any time we're looking at making decisions we first consider the needs of the patient, which helps build trust with society, which positively impacts our reputation — all of which supports our business. And it’s important to note we stress ‛always in that order’.”

Lasch, a medical doctor, notes that the company also stresses diversity. “One thing I love about Takeda’s culture is it encourages intellectually curious and open-minded behavior. This breeds diversity of thought and ideas — to the ultimate benefit of patients.”

According to all four women — that diversity of thought and experience is what makes their careers at Takeda so exciting and satisfying. “The opportunities for women to leverage their expertise whether it’s in science, finance or other areas are endless,” says Lasch. 

These women are opening the door and paving the way for the next generation of female leaders in health care to follow. Wanted: talented, curious professionals from a variety of backgrounds interested in unlimited career opportunities with a chance to make a real difference.