—Dr Alpna Seth
Director, Biogen Idec India, Gurgaon
With a career spanning two decades in
life sciences, covering all major verticals in the industry, Dr Alpna
Seth has proven her expertise as a skillful leader at various
managerial levels. Alpana shares a passion and commitment to the cause
of promoting education and well-being of underprivileged children,
particularly the girl child
Q What are the challenges you faced
during the initial stage of your career?
The main challenge has been in
striking a good work-life balance. I have always kept family my number
one priority. I am fortunate that I had strong family support to help
me tide over some of the extra challenges women face. On the
professional front, I don’t think I faced any major challenge as a
What has been your formula for success?
Passion for work, taking initiative,
and resourcefulness, are three ingredients to achieve success. I don’t
give up on anything easily. I have found women quite adept at
multi-tasking. Ultimately, there is no substitute for hard work. I have
never relied on someone else to actively mentor me or shape my career;
I believe that is primarily my own responsibility and privilege. Over
the years, I have developed my own leadership style and
self-confidence. I try to learn from leaders of all walks of life and
embrace values and practices, which I believe in. It is also very
important to be self-aware and constantly willing to evolve. I strongly
believe in the dignity of labor.
Q What are the factors that hinder women
from reaching leadership positions?
Globally, there are fewer women in
top leadership positions in companies and organizations. The life
sciences industry is no exception, although most professional
organizations have fair recruitment and employment policies.
Q As a woman leader, how do you look at
I ensure that we follow our
company’s gender-blind hiring process, provide equal opportunity to all
employees in an open, safe environment, practice meritocracy in
performance management; and offer reasonable flexibility for both women
and men to balance their professional and personal commitments, while
addressing the company’s needs and objectives.
Q How do you see the future for women in
the life sciences industry?
The number of women in the life
sciences industry is quite significant, and this trend is likely to
continue. I believe, today in the US more women are pursuing science
and higher studies than men are. We are seeing more women opting for
engineering and medicine; also the number of women joining the
workforce is on the rise. At Biogen, at least 50 percent of our
employees, globally, are women. Across the biotech and pharma value
chain, there are equal opportunities for women and men.