with Lauren Neighbours

Changing jobs can be an incredibly exciting time, leading to new opportunities to learn and develop… But you might not get the best salary right out of the gate. Unless you know how to negotiate effectively, you’re unlikely to get paid what you’re actually worth.

Katy Barber, one of our Lift Up Ambassadors, got together with Lauren Neighbours to learn her advice on ensuring you’re as prepared as possible for your next negotiation.

Lauren Neighbours, PhD, RAC, is Senior Vice President, Product Development and Regulatory Affairs for Checkpoint Therapeutics, Inc. At Checkpoint, Lauren has spearheaded their 2023 Biologics Licence Application submission to the US FDA for cosibelimab, for the potential treatment of advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma.

Prior to joining Checkpoint, Lauren served in senior leadership roles at multiple life sciences companies, including Istari Oncology, Optum, and PSI CRO. Lauren is an accomplished scientist and regulatory affairs leader with experience managing multidisciplinary product development programs and numerous regulatory submissions among other accomplishments.

Lauren’s advice includes:

  • Get Informed Before Negotiations
  • Don’t Ask, Don’t Get
  • Build Your Support Network
  • Know When to Leave

Ensure You’re Informed Before the Negotiation

When it comes to negotiating, information is the greatest tool you can have in your arsenal. The right information can help you negotiate a better deal, and that isn’t just limited to salary. For instance, if you want to spend more time with loved ones, you may want flexible working or additional holiday days.

Lauren is also a Volunteer Advisor at 81cents, where she advises women on negotiating their pay at new or existing jobs. Some of the advice she provides centres around negotiating an increased salary, better benefits, or something specific their current employer is offering, if they’re looking to get promoted.

81cents was initially founded to try and close the pay gap, because in some industries, women are paid 81 cents on the dollar, compared to men. From there, it grew and expanded into other regions and industries — like the life sciences.

You Can Negotiate More Than Salary

Lauren suggests that many women don’t even realise what they can negotiate for. Some of the things she lists include:

  • Salary
  • Bonuses (different kinds)
  • Sign On Bonus
  • Relocation Costs
  • Equity
  • Vacation/Holiday Time

She explains that most people wouldn’t even consider some of these elements unless someone had given them that advice.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Get

Lauren also gave some advice that resonated with Deborah Wild’s advice on a previous Lift Up Live. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.

Women can feel shy, or lack the confidence to ask for salary increases that suit their position. Lauren herself admitted having these feelings throughout her own career, stating:

“You have a certain level of success and experience, but going after a new position or industry can make you feel uncomfortable. You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s something that I’ve had to figure out over time.”

Accept Additional Tasks

In response, if you want to improve your confidence in your own abilities, one piece of actionable advice Lauren suggests is to accept additional responsibilities and opportunities. You can only learn by doing, and this is a great way to organically improve your confidence.

This must be done within reason. If you say “yes” to everything that comes your way, you can quickly put yourself under too much pressure. Try to ensure any extra projects you take on are manageable, but also stretch your abilities.

Build Your Support Network

Of course, taking on more tasks is just one way to improve confidence in your abilities. Another is to build and develop your mentors.

Mentors are an essential part of growth, and they can even be on your level. A mentor’s role is to help guide you through struggles. Often, they will have been through these same struggles too.

If you’ve encountered an issue in your career, your proximity to the situation can make it difficult to know how to proceed. A mentor is slightly removed from your situation, and should be able to give you more clarity, especially if you’re not fully recognising your own abilities.

It goes without saying, that your support network should be diverse. Men and women will offer different advice, suited to different scenarios. By having a more diverse network, you can benefit from different viewpoints. For instance, men are typically more willing to leverage their existing connections to land a role, whereas women aren’t always as comfortable doing that.

The best mentors won’t care about your gender, but about your character and merits. One of Lauren’s best mentors early in her career was David Shoemaker. He hired Lauren out of Graduate school, and into her first industry position. He helped Lauren find clarity in her career plan, frequently brought up opportunities, and set the foundation for the rest of her career.

Reassure Each Other

You aren’t the only one who questions their abilities, which is why it’s important you help reassure others in your network too. If we’re uncomfortable, it’s usually because we’re growing and learning. New can be scary,

If we want to continue working towards gender equity, we need to support each other — including the upcoming generations. Lauren revealed that she’s often met with questions by PhD-level students, or post-doctoral candidates, who are trying to build a career outside of academia.

The same questions frequently arise, such as how to:

  • Get your foot in the door,
  • Apply for roles with X years of necessary experience,
  • Transition between different industries,
  • Build ‘pre-requisite’ skills, like project management.


Reach Out to People

Lauren advises that one of the best things you can do for your career, is to reach out to people — especially if you’re shy.

Reaching out to people, and speaking to new people is an excellent way to build both your confidence, and your network. This network can prove invaluable for your career, especially when planning your next steps. Connections at a certain company can help you land an interview, or provide you with the actionable advice you need to improve.

Not everyone you reach out to will respond, and that’s okay. Someone will, and they’ll be able to advise you or point you towards someone else who can help.

Know When to Leave

You might be happy and comfortable in your current role, but if you want to advance your career, you need to know when to make a move. It’s extremely common for women in male-dominated industries to reach a glass ceiling.

If you feel that your progression is plateauing, or that you’ve progressed as far as you can in an organisation, it’s okay to leave.

Various factors can hold you back; from a lack of open positions, to not being properly valued. Changing employers is a big decision, but it’s one that can bring incredible benefits too. Weigh up your options, but don’t be afraid of opportunities just because you’re not a 100% fit.

Connect with Lauren

If you’re interested in learning more about negotiating and improving your career, we highly recommend connecting with Lauren on LinkedIn.

She offers exceptional advice about improving your career, and is certainly someone worth knowing!

With Carlos Sanmarco

One of our brightest new minds, Mitchell Pease, recently sat down with Carlos Sanmarco. Carlos is an expert in Drug Development and Clinical Research, with over 22 years’ experience. Currently SVP, Head of Program Management & Operations of Sonata Therapeutics, Carlos is one of the most prominent minds on Drug Discovery, Development, and Commercialisation.

So whether you’re looking to improve your processes or simply trying to decide if you want to get into this space, read this article.

We’ll explore:

  • About Carlos
  • Drug Discovery Success and Failure
  • Key Steps to Success
  • Importance of Proper Program Management

About Carlos

Originally from Brazil, that’s where Carlos spent a significant portion of his early career. He thought he would be a pharmacist in the lab, but realised it wasn’t his passion. Instead, he switched over to coordinating the development of new drugs and hasn’t looked back.

Since moving to drug development, Carlos has worked in different therapeutic areas, like intensive care, oncology, pain, and diabetes. This gave him a range of experience which he took to medical quality, before becoming Head of Clinical Operations for one of Eli Lilly’s major affiliates.

During his time at Eli Lilly, Carlos was part of a process that optimised drug development from 10 years, down to 5. This was Carlos’ first experience seeing a product go from discovery to launch, and he began to consider why drug development is long-winded and expensive. Ultimately, his focus fell to the Biotech world, due to his curiosity and exposure at Eli Lilly.

With 17 years’ experience at Eli Lilly, Carlos moved to Boston and became the Pulmonary Global Program Lead for Acceleron Pharma. It was here that he brought an asset from strategy to Phase III, before Merck acquired the company in an unexpected takeover.

Shortly after, Carlos found his way to Sonata Therapeutics, a Flagship Pioneering company.

Drug Discovery Success & Failure

Not all drugs will succeed; larger companies try to figure out which will and won’t as early as possible. Terminating a project early can save a lot of funds, which can then be redistributed to other projects and improve their chances of success. While Carlos was a Global Program Lead at Eli Lilly, he worked on nine programs, but only one made it through to the late stages of development.

Smaller biotechs don’t have this luxury. Sometimes, killing a project at a biotech can kill the company. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that biotechs are more willing to take risks and move faster than large companies. Most of the time, a program is the main reason smaller companies survive.

Carlos’ greatest piece of advice to improve a drug’s success is this: don’t take shortcuts in drug development. It’s where mistakes happen; you can easily spend a lot of money and be left with nothing at the end.

Key Steps to Success

Success is the ideal end result of any project, but what does that mean?

For one, you need to have a firm understanding of what you want to achieve. Remember your end goal throughout the process and refer back to it. Here are Carlos’ top four key steps for success.

Stick to Strict Deadlines

One of the key contributors to repeated success is having discipline through the discovery phase. Hiring a good program leader at the beginning of the process can ensure this is taken care of.

It’s easy to get caught up in the academic ideology that science takes time, but you must keep pushing forwards. After all, drug development is a funnel.

By having that end goal in mind as you progress through the funnel, you constantly have something to work towards. Without it, the time to complete an objective can keep increasing. While this delay may not affect an individual stage too significantly, it can damage the overall timeline of the product.

Don’t Take Shortcuts

On the other hand, if there are delays, it can be tempting to skip critical stages during drug development and try to ‘catch up’ later. This could prove to be an even more costly mistake.

Trying to take shortcuts by skipping stages from discovery to clinical phases of development can be a severe error — and it’s one that Carlos has seen a few times throughout his career.

Decision-makers can feel compelled to rush through Phase III (or pivotal studies, for example). Their reasoning for this is very simple; jumping to Phase III gains investors’ approval and can lead to much greater funding — but it comes with a major drawback.

Lack of viability.

By jumping straight to Phase III, you may lack the critical data to make informed and accurate decisions. A product you may have thought was viable may have a crucial flaw. Unfortunately, this is something you won’t discover until after the investment has been made.

While it can take longer, making sure you hit every core element in the stages of drug development can help you identify critical weaknesses sooner, saving costs and resources.

Collect Accurate Data, Fast

You can’t make accurate, informed decisions without first having the right data. Carlos advises getting to Proof of Concept as fast as possible. The data gained from this will tell you how viable an opportunity is.

Robust data inherently brings greater value. A product which may have initially seemed like a guaranteed success might be proven to be a failure, or vice versa.

If You’re Global, Be Global

While the US market is large, it isn’t the only one. If you are (or want to be) a global company, you must also get feedback, research, and data from other regions. This goes from health care providers to, more importantly, the patients you aim to treat.

If you have the funds available, it’s worth opening centres in other countries. Not only to promote patient access, but to learn how you can develop a better product.

Importance of Proper Program Management

In Carlos’ view, one of the biggest factors causing companies to fail is the lack of discipline in executing the plan.

He explains, “we have good science, good planners, good ideas. We come up with what we believe is a robust plan, but we fail to execute it — most of the time by not following it.” Having strong program leads who can help keep that end goal in mind, and their team towards that finish line is essential.

A good program lead is a challenging find, but they can make or break a project. For instance, if new people join the project, they can be accurately informed why certain decisions were made. This can lead to a more cohesive understanding of the project, and ensure everyone is operating to the best of their ability.

Having that executional excellence is crucial in drug development. There can easily be many people involved, and keeping everyone on track will drastically improve the project’s success.

End Notes

In the end, it’s vital that you adapt as necessary. Knowing when to execute a program is an essential skill. Sometimes, despite best efforts, drugs fail, and that’s okay. This is part of science and innovation. If you’ve implemented a plan well, but it still fails, then the next best option is to limit further costs and focus on the next project.

If you want to learn more about drug discovery and development, we highly recommend following Carlos on LinkedIn. His insights are truly invaluable and can help make your project more successful.

One of our core values at Lift Up is championing other successful women, and one person we feel thoroughly deserves a spotlight is Doctor Anita Gupta.

As an active, practicing board-certified anaesthesiologist and physician-pharmacist, Anita Gupta is a prominent mind, especially matters of healthcare crises.

Recently, one of our Ambassadors, Alice Taylor, had the chance to speak with Dr Gupta, and really find out her professional history, along with some of her thoughts regarding leadership qualities and progression.

Who is Anita Gupta?

Dr Anita Gupta has had a fascinating professional journey, from starting as a Pharmacist, to working on the opioid crisis in America, and becoming one of the biggest names in health crisis matters. Her career is a rich and inspiring one, and we’re thrilled to be able to explore it with you.

Anita Gupta says her career really started as a Doctor in Philadelphia, working on the front line, handling serious issues and coming face-to-face with the Opioid Crisis, Chronic Pain, and Cancers.

It was her experiences in addressing serious opioid overdoses that led her to find that some of the solutions were already at hand in the hospital. She then worked alongside public officials to expand access to that antidote.

Ultimately, this led to Washington D.C., and drove policy changes to allow greater access and improve treatments.

Dr Gupta is now also a published author; her work has even been featured in the National Academies of Medicine’s Press.

Most Important Virtues for Success

Everyone has slightly different interpretations of which traits can bring success, so we were curious to learn Anita’s top picks. Here’s what she had to say.


One of the most important virtues is courage; particularly as a woman, sitting in a room with a lot of thought leaders and experts, it takes a lot of courage and bravery to speak.

Even more so, when you’re not sure what the right solution is. In that situation, there are many challenges facing you, and when the answers aren’t clear, that can become even harder.

“Whenever I’m handling a crisis, or in a boardroom full of uncertainty and stress, I always remember to be courageous.”

The ability to take action, even when fearful, can make a critical impact.


Especially in leadership positions, empathy is such a critical skill. Traditionally one that hasn’t always been involved, but it’s appearing more frequently over the last year or so.

Women are bringing empathy into leadership, and it’s one of the key traits that people look at, especially today.

Lessons Learned

Throughout her impressive career, Anita has had some big challenges and learned some valuable lessons. Here are the ones that stayed with her.

We’re Good Enough

It’s easy to fall into the false idea that we’re not good enough, but the truth is — we really are!

Women make fantastic leaders. Female-associated traits, like empathy and compassion, are only recently being seen more commonly in organisations, but that will change soon.

Anita continues, “we have the ability to lead, and that’s something women aren’t told enough”. Her point coincides with one of Lift Up’s founding principles; inspire.

We want to inspire women from across the Life Sciences, to fully realise their potential, and strive for it.

Becoming an Executive Leader

Anita Gupta attributes part of her determination to two words that have followed her throughout her career. They’ve been on her wall as a student, and they’re there when things get tough, so what are they?

“Don’t Quit.”

It sounds simple, but there’s always something ready to stop you — no matter what you do. You’ll experience many hurdles throughout your life, but you can’t give up. Anita came from an immigrant family, and had to climb multiple challenges to succeed.

That’s not to say you can’t change direction. If you’ve started down a path that isn’t right for you, it’s more than okay to switch to something better suited. But once you’ve found the thing you want to stick with, you have to put yourself 100% into that too.

We never stop growing; if times are getting tough, that’s your signal to keep going.

Leadership Programmes

While Leadership Programmes are often heralded as the perfect way to develop skills and get ahead, this isn’t always the case.

In fact, Anita Gupta has found that they can often be old-fashioned, focusing more on traditional skills rather than empathy and compassion. This can reinforce the idea that women need to change who they are to succeed.

We don’t.

Anita explains that whoever you are, there’s always a position for you somewhere. You will find a company that matches your principles, values you for who you are, and helps you grow.

It might take a few attempts to find where you fit in, but you will find it. Don’t settle for somewhere where you aren’t appreciated.

Dealing with Hurtful Comments

Throughout your life, people can say hurtful things, whether intentionally or otherwise.

Anita used to take these comments to heart, before she realised one crucial thing. Hurtful comments say more about them, than they do about you.

It can be a challenge not to let hurtful comments affect you, but typically these comments are more reactive than anything else. Trying to be empathetic and understand someone’s history can help you realise why they say certain things, and let it go.

Invite 3 Women to Dinner

We also had to ask this age-old question with a fun twist. Rather than just anyone, we asked Anita which three women she would invite to dinner. Here is her selection:

Indira Gandhi

Indira Gandhi has always been someone I’ve looked up to. My heritage is Indian, and her political career is fascinating; she led a formidable dynasty in India, while combatting many political challenges. and rose to become India’s first and only female Prime Minister.


I’d also be curious to meet Oprah. She’s another woman who has had a very difficult life, but pushed through and overcame those obstacles. Now she’s a huge success, living with purpose and meaning, while also inspiring others.

Eleanor Roosevelt

She’s amazing. She made many phenomenal changes in the US, including the Women’s Rights Movement. I’m just curious to hear what she’d have to say about what’s happening now.

With a rich and varied career, including running her own business, Sally Tucker is a prominent Life Sciences figure that we couldn’t wait to speak with. One of our Lift Up Allies, Robb Green, sat with Sally and learned about her thoughts and experiences. We were not surprised to find that Sally’s principles included striving for diversity in leadership, and championing other women. We were also keen to learn her insights about being a working mother, and how she used her experience to further her career.

Motherhood in the Workplace

As a mother of three, Sally is no stranger to motherhood in the workplace. As such, she’s learned some invaluable insights, and used her experiences as a mother to shape and advance her career.

Sally gladly shares her thoughts and experiences with the Lift Up community, so we can all benefit from her experience as a mother in the workplace.

Many women may question if motherhood is the right move, or if it will significantly impact our careers. In Sally’s experience, the impact of maternity leave is minimal and should be thoroughly enjoyed. In the grand scheme, it’s a short but fundamental part of your life.

But when it comes to actually taking time off work, Sally argues that the world becoming more connected has made it harder for women.

“With technological advances and the ability to always be connected, it has become harder for employees to switch off and to truly be ‘off duty’.”

Maternity Leave & Guilt

When women take maternity leave, it’s common to feel guilty. In the moment, it can feel like you’re taking a long time off; in the span of your entire career, it’s negligible. Taking and enjoying that time doesn’t make you any less of an employee, or mean you’re less valuable.

In fact, I would argue there are many transferable skills you develop as a mother that benefit organisations in the long term. These include:

  • prioritisation,
  • multi-tasking,
  • time management,
  • compassion, and
  • empathy (to name just a few).

Motherhood is a gift. Our children are the leaders of the future and we have the responsibility of guiding, coaching, and nurturing them through many different phases from infancy to independence.

That is a big responsibility but doesn’t mean that we cannot do it without also being successful ourselves. Sally wants those women who plan on returning to the workplace, to take that time and enjoy it (as much they can when there is so much to learn). Establish new routines and return with additional skills, feeling empowered and motivated, knowing their worth and value.

The amount of time any one woman takes off is individual to each person and can change between pregnancies, based upon personal circumstances. For instance, while Sally took around six months of maternity leave for her first two children, she only took two weeks for her third.

When asked about the difference, Sally revealed that her third child arrived while running her business. In her own words:

“It was my own business, at a critical time and with the ability to work from home. It seemed harder to let go but also easier to make it work, maybe because it was the third time round, I had help and my youngest was a very easy baby. It is true I was further along in my career, with more responsibilities but it really does come down to personal choice and what works for each mother.”

“Mother’s guilt is a real thing — returning to work too soon, wanting to work, not feeling you are always there, feeling like you are juggling… The list is endless. It actually took me a long time to come to terms that I am a better mother working. I love my children but I also love my work, and I believe them seeing their mother working and striving to make a difference is teaching them valuable lessons that will serve them well in the future.”

Sally took the amount of time off that she felt was right. Ultimately, doing what you think is right will always be the best decision for you.

Developing Interpersonal Skills

Sally revealed that becoming a mother helped her develop skills that easily transferred to her work life. One of these major ones was improving her empathy, and awareness of the bigger picture.

As a mother of 3, Sally is acutely aware that there is more than one side to every story. Considering and applying this to work is hugely important. We, as leaders, must always probe, ask questions, and consider each and every possible aspect. It allows for perspective and broader consideration which, in turn, fosters fairer and more sound decision-making.

Diversity in the Workplace

It goes without saying that the Life Sciences industry still has a long way to go to achieve equality.

“It’s great that we’re talking about diversity and inclusion, but the fact we talk about it shows we still have a long way to go.”

Men and women are of equal importance within the workplace. There is no ‘one way’ that fits everyone, and we need to be more appreciative of each other’s strengths to benefit all.

Despite this, however, women are still vastly underrepresented in Senior Leadership and Board-Level positions. That is, in Sally’s viewpoint, something that requires addressing. We need equality and equity in the representation of leadership positions to support the needs of the diverse workforce.

Diversity in Leadership

Perhaps one of the best ways of achieving workplace diversity, is by aiming for diversity in leadership. This can bring greater visibility for people from diverse backgrounds, inspiring them to set higher personal goals.

Additionally, the way men and women lead is very different. With the workforce comprised of both men and women, this must be reflected in leadership too.

We need greater respect and empathy for each other’s capabilities and strengths. As a whole, a diverse leadership team can bring a range of benefits to their organisation.

One benefit is that diverse teams can generate a range of solutions that may not have been realised if this diversity wasn’t in place. We have long realised the importance of brainstorming and how these activities can benefit idea generation.

In Sally’s opinion, this is also the case in leadership and strategic planning. Diversity at the top can lead to broader discussions and considerations that can ultimately benefit the organisational direction.

Championing Other Women

During her conversations with Robb, Sally mentioned that she had been lucky to have worked with numerous inspirational women throughout her career, many of whom have become good friends and valued mentors over the years. This began very early on in her career when she conducted her PhD.

Her PhD supervisor was a woman, Sarah Hosking, who provided inspiration at an early stage. Sarah is now the CEO of the Cancer Council and remains a friend and mentor to Sally to this day.

In fact, Sally’s perspective on championing other women aligns directly with one of Lift Up’s core principles. Supporting one another brings greater visibility to each other’s achievements. As the public eye sees more women in high-power positions, it becomes easier for other women to progress too.

If you, like Sally, want to help champion other successful women in our movement towards equity, join the Lift Up community. As a part of our community, please share anything from our library of easily accessible content.

Together, let’s #CloseTheGap.

With Catherine Edenborough

Recently, one of our Lift Up Ambassadors, Katy Barber, sat down with Catherine Edenborough. Catherine is an Executive Coach, focussed on helping the next generation realise their potential. As such, we felt that she was the perfect person to talk to about making a bigger impact in our next career move.

Whether it’s a promotion, a new role, or a different department, this guide will help accelerate your growth. Some of the topics Katy and Catherine discussed include:

  • Starting Your New Role
  • Beware The Dip
  • Embracing Equity

Ready to smash your next career move? Read on!

Starting Your New Role

When you start a new role, the first feeling is almost one of excitement – but as you begin to learn more about the position, this can quickly dwindle.

Instead, you can be left feeling overwhelmed but trying to maintain a confident ‘façade’. Catherine likens this to acting like a swan, looking graceful on the surface while your feet are frantically paddling below the surface.

Catherine suggests that rather than trying to seem like we’ve got everything under control, being transparent about our feelings can actually be better. It’s okay not to be perfect at everything when starting a new role.

She explains that when you transition into a new role, this is actually the perfect time to ask questions about anything. You’ve got a ‘honeymoon phase’, where it’s acceptable to ask questions about anything you’re unsure of – make sure you don’t waste it!

The First 100 Days

One of Catherine’s biggest points was that the first 100 days after a new career move are perhaps the most crucial for long-term success.

These first 100 days are when you have the most eyes on you, because you’re new to the role. People are developing their first impressions about you, so it’s vital you make a memorable and positive impact.

On the other hand, it can be harder to come back from a poor initial impression. It can slow your progression, and mean that you get passed over for certain projects and promotions.

But that doesn’t mean you need all the answers!

Instead, focus on asking people questions and advice. If you’ve just joined a new team, ask for their insights — especially if this is an area you don’t know much about.

Beware The Dip

At the beginning of every new career move, there is a dip in motivation. At Fraser Dove, we call this the ‘90-Day Dip’, and we weren’t surprised that Catherine had spotted this too.

When you first start a new role or position, your motivation is at an all-time high. You’ve taken the next step in your career, but as you learn more about the role, you can quickly get overwhelmed. This leads to decreased motivation, and while everyone’s ‘dips’ are different, we all get them when starting a new role.

But the dip can be overcome.

Want to know how? We’ve listed some actionable points below!

Be Clear on Your Success

Success looks different for everyone. Where one person may chase a high-power role, another may choose a path that leads to a more flexible work-life blend. Everyone is an individual. Judging personal success on someone else’s progress will never produce the desired results.

Instead, figure out what you want in your career and go for it. A clear idea of how you can be successful is an excellent step towards limiting the severity of the dip.

Delegation is a Great Tool

If you’ve just gained a promotion, one of the biggest challenges can be letting go of your previous responsibilities. Learning how to delegate effectively is an essential skill, and it makes your transition much more seamless.

If you try to control every area, your workload will almost instantly become unsustainable and can quickly lead to burnout. Rather than risking your health, remember that it’s okay to delegate tasks to other people in your team.

In fact, as people progress through their careers, it’s normal for them to spend less time on areas which were previously integral to their role.

Ask For Support

If you start to feel overwhelmed or like you need additional support, don’t be afraid to ask for guidance. While it may not feel like it, your superiors will, at some point, have been in the same position as you. They may have developed their own specific tips suited to that role, and will usually be happy to share information to help you.

Asking your superiors for advice can actually improve their perception of you too. So next time your workload starts getting on top of you, ask for support.

Welcome Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome is a common occurrence in our professional lives, especially after a recent career move. Those who suffer from it constantly question whether or not they can actually achieve something. If that’s you, you may question if you ‘lucked’ your way into the role.

The short answer? No, you didn’t.

You went up against a whole host of other qualified people, and you are the best suited for the job. If you weren’t, it would’ve gone to someone else.

With that in mind, it’s integral to remember that growth only happens outside of your comfort zone. So when feelings of Imposter Syndrome arise, take it as a good sign. You’re making progress.

Embracing Equity

In honour of International Women’s Day, we also asked Catherine about #EmbraceEquity, and how we to take that into account after a recent career move.

One of the biggest misconceptions that people make is splitting traits into masculine and feminine. Catherine argues that these are all human traits, and can apply to men and women equally. Dividing them amongst genders doesn’t actually help bring us together, since it creates more of a barrier.

Instead, we should focus on what unifies us, and help lift each other up.

One piece of actionable advice was that men and women, together, should support the women in their network. By providing support, we can help each other gain confidence and elevate our positions.

One easy way to help do that is by becoming an Advocate of Lift Up. This completely free and widely accessible initiative is designed to promote women in the Life Sciences.

At Lift Up, we recognise that we can only create meaningful change by working together, which is why we’ve made it so easy to join and be a member. Sign up, and together we can #CloseTheGap.

With Iain McCulley

The increase of AI and robotics in the medical field is met with mixed feelings — but that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, introducing AI and robotics into medical professions can revolutionise how we administer treatment, making lives better for both the patient and the professionals.

Some of the topics I’ll explore include:

  • Robotics in Surgery
  • Advancing Medical Diagnosis
  • Overcoming the Talent Crunch

Robotics in Surgery

Surgeons (just like many other medical professionals) are chronically overworked. If the stress of the job isn’t enough, there is a major backlog in the NHS. This can lead to fatigue, exhaustion, and burnout.

Pushing yourself to this extreme is guaranteed to have you running on fumes in no time, but that’s not the only option anymore.

Benefit for Patients

This is where I think AI, specifically Robotic Surgery, can create some drastic improvements. Current advancements mean that some AI robotics can complete minor surgeries, allowing surgeons to focus on more complex operations.

What’s better, because of AI surgery’s precision, patients experience less scarring and bleeding. In turn, they recover faster, and fewer are re-admitted following surgery.

Ultimately, this means that patients spend less time in the hospital, so more patients can be seen sooner. This limits the waiting time for patients, and means that those with painful conditions don’t need to suffer as long, while waiting for their surgery.

Benefit for Surgeons

There simply aren’t enough surgeons to handle the current demand, and reduce the backlog. “Rather than contributing to a loss of jobs, this can help fill gaps and help support the surgeons we do have with their workload”. In turn, they could have more time to focus on their personal well-being, and produce better results in more complex procedures, like keyhole surgery.

AI is already everywhere. From the navigation on your SatNav, to the Autocorrect on your mobiles and computers, to even which posts you see on Social Media. We rely on Artificial Intelligence in almost every area of our lives, so why not let it improve surgery too?

Advancing Medical Diagnosis

It’s not just surgeons who can benefit from AI, however. In fact, GE Healthcare recently acquired an AI Imaging Firm, Caption Health, to help detect disease earlier and provide more precise diagnoses. A single misdiagnosis can be a costly mistake; by bringing AI-enhanced devices into the mix, we can spot other potential causes more easily, and reduce the number of incorrect diagnoses.


This is especially important as telemedicine and virtual diagnoses become more common. Post-pandemic, this area has sky-rocketed, with many GPs taking virtual appointments in an effort to see more patients.

Of course, one issue with an online consultation is a greater chance of misdiagnosis. AI-powered diagnosis tools should help reduce the chances of misdiagnosis, and ensure that patients get the correct treatment sooner.

Improved Patient Experience

Of course, this can result in a greatly improved patient experience. It means GPs can focus on the patient, while AI collects and sorts information. For instance, AI could map symptoms against family illnesses and highlight the likelihood of different causes.

Using AI in examinations could also suggest rarer illnesses and diseases, which may not be spotted in an initial consult. Altogether, this leads to a better standard of care, while simultaneously reducing the workload.

The Talent Crunch

The peak of the Talent Crunch is fast approaching. There’s a growing deficit of workers with a suitable skill set, and the MedTech industry will be one of the most significantly impacted industries — especially considering the general scarcity of skilled professionals in the market.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that AI, robots, and digital health will replace humans and there’ll be a loss of jobs. In reality, companies need to utilise technology and adapt if they want to overcome the worst of the talent crunch. This, in turn, will actually create more opportunities for highly-skilled professionals.

Professional Freedom

Medical Professionals across the world are stretched thin. Due to a shortage of skilled, qualified workers, many of these experts may have had to pivot their careers and become more generalist than specialist.

AI and robotics can ease the strain, making it possible for medical professionals to return to their passions.

Overcoming the Talent Crunch

By effectively combining Digital Health with Healthcare, I anticipate that rather than limiting the positions on the market, it’ll actually create more jobs. Of course, the skill requirements for these jobs will also evolve.

As these positions evolve, finding candidates with the correct blend of skills will become more challenging.

I always recommend looking to solve problems internally; however, this isn’t always possible. It’s more important than ever to find the right talent partner who can act as an extension of your business.

The Future of MedTech and AI

The idea of involving AI and Robotics, or Digital Health, in the MedTech space can be unsettling. It’s a new technology, so nobody can really predict how exactly life will be affected, but I’m optimistic.

There is very little chance that Digital Health will replace jobs, nor should they. I firmly believe that if we learn how to merge AI with Healthcare effectively, then this could completely revolutionise the space.

If you want to stay up to date on the latest MedTech news, then make sure to follow Iain McCulley on LinkedIn!

Women have some incredible superpowers that we bring into the workplace, whether we recognise it or not. In a recent Lift Up Live session, Rosey and Louise were joined by two incredible guests: Jessica Smith and Heather Moses.

Jessica is Integra’s Corporate VP and Chief Regulatory Officer, whereas Heather is AstraZeneca’s Head of Europe & Canada Medical Affairs.

Together, these genuinely inspirational women discussed some of the superpowers we have access to, and how they benefit our workplace progression.

Jessica and Heather even shared some specific advice, learned over the course of their careers. You’ll find this a little further down.

If you want to watch the full Conversation, we’ve included it here:


Women’s Workplace Superpowers

These are some of the top superpowers mentioned during the discussion. If you have any suggestions that we’ve missed, feel free to share them in the Lift Up Group!


One of the biggest superpowers that arose during the live discussion was Authenticity.

Heather suggested that Authenticity and Empathy go hand in hand, because being your authentic self lets you relate better to the people around you, and results in common goals being reached more easily.

It also allows you to develop ‘carrying connections’. These make you much stronger and can help you solve more complex problems, with an established network of people with differing viewpoints.

See ‘True North’

Jessica defined her own superpower as ‘seeing true north’, or the ability to cut through and head for her goals. It’s something that she brings to every aspect of her life, not just her professional career.

Typically, as we head towards a specific goal, there are many distractions which can lead us away from that path. These could be minor goals, like trying to solve a specific problem at work, or larger achievements, like mentoring the next generation.


As we share our stories, the one superpower that appears, again and again, is resilience. Whether it’s growing and nurturing a family, or managing geographical mobility throughout your career, women have to develop an extraordinary capacity for resilience.

Ignore the ‘Judges’

‘Judges’ are everywhere. They could be in your department, and they’re ready to suggest that you’re not capable of a specific job or responsibility for a whole host of reasons. From not having the right qualifications, to having too little (or even too much) experience, some people are impossible to please and will doubt your abilities.

Ignore them.

While this can be difficult, it’s important to remember that you wouldn’t have gotten your job if you weren’t capable.

Fortunately, both Heather and Jessica noted that this problem is quickly disappearing. In fact, the more we invest in positive workplace culture and equality, the less we’ll see these issues in the workplace.

Jessica’s Advice

Bet on Yourself!

During the Live session, Jessica shared an anecdote about when she was faced with an opportunity, and chose to bet on herself.

While studying for her degree, Jessica’s company started making layoffs. She faced an incredibly tough decision, either drop her degree and keep her job, or continue studying and join those getting laid off.

Approaching 40, Jessica knew that if she didn’t get her degree now, then she never would. It was her last chance, and so she bet on herself. She accepted the layoff, and put herself first.

In an interesting turn, she offered to work as a Consultant and was hired back about three weeks later. Of course, these events aren’t common, but they highlight the importance of putting yourself first.

Now whenever an opportunity is presented, and Jessica feels afraid or nervous, she immediately nominates herself for it.

Heather’s Advice

Make The Decisions

In response to Jessica’s anecdote, Heather confessed that when faced with major decisions, she focused on making the right choice. With experience, she learned that there is no right or wrong choice.

Whatever choice you make, you will learn, experience new things, and develop. With that in mind, it became less about choosing the right option, and instead picking whichever she felt suited her.

In fact, Heather went on to say:

“Never be afraid of making those decisions, because it’s always going to turn out to be something.”


And she’s spot on; next time you have an important decision to make, don’t worry about which is the right option. Instead, focus on which is the better option for you.

Learn More About the Lift Up Community

We founded Lift Up as a community where women across the Life Sciences could grow and develop together. Our mission is to connect, inspire, and champion women from Academia to C-Suite.

That’s why we’ve ensured the community is free and accessible to everyone. You don’t even need to sign up or pay a subscription. We want to level the playing field; in order to do that, everyone needs to band together.

Interested in learning more about Lift Up? Read about our aims on our Women in Life Sciences page.

Do you know the most common thing job seekers encounter? Poor candidate experience. From not knowing a role’s salary, to multiple interview rounds, to being ignored, bad candidate experiences are rife in the job market.

The candidate experience is often someone’s first look into your business, and can reveal the inner workings of your structure. For instance, if the hiring process is long-winded and spread across multiple stages, this can highlight that projects will need multiple sign-offs, and red tape will significantly delay processes.

A bad candidate experience, in turn, damages the business’ reputation and prevents them from hiring the best talent. Why would a candidate accept an offer from somewhere that doesn’t respect their time and effort?


Why is Candidate Experience Important?

First and foremost, creating a positive candidate experience is just good business practice! There are loads of external knock-on effects of a candidate experience, and the effect they have depends entirely on how good or bad your candidate experience is.

Talent as a Customer

As we get closer to the peak of the Talent Crunch, candidates are getting more power in the hiring process. Why?

Because greater demand for talent means that candidates have more choice. Ultimately businesses have to treat candidates like customers. For instance, there’s been significant investment into customer experience, but not into candidate experience.

This has to change if businesses want to keep attracting the best talent on the market.

Additionally, a bad candidate experience can even damage the customer reputation of businesses. In this digital age, businesses with poor candidate experience can easily get exposed online. There have been cases where candidates have taken to social media about their poor experience, and in return, the offending business receives countless negative reviews.

A good candidate experience is paramount to maintaining a good customer relationship.

It’s Good Business Sense

Setting the morals of a good candidate experience aside, it’s just good business sense.

Good candidate experience helps to develop brand loyalty, and gives you an ever-growing pool of talent when you need it. On the other hand, a poor candidate experience can alienate your desired talent, and make growing the business much harder.

As the Talent Crunch worsens, the biggest barrier to growth will be increasing your headcount. So by investing in candidate experience now, and developing that infrastructure, you’ll be in a much better position than your competitors.

So which would you rather: invest now and succeed later, or continue to struggle?

Making a Good Candidate Experience?

Now you understand why Candidate Experience is so important, knowing how to ensure your Candidate’s Experience is top quality is crucial.

Include Salary Banding

One of the worst feelings for a candidate is finding out they’ve been taking time out of their schedule, for a role that pays significantly less than what they’re currently on. This can be easily avoided by simply including the salary banding in the job description.

Some may argue that including salary banding lets your competitors try to poach your staff, but they’re doing that anyway. Instead, it actually ensures transparency between employers and employees.

In fact, it makes it easier to find salary benchmarks for certain positions and puts a greater focus on company culture.

When you consider that Gen Z won’t even apply if the salary isn’t listed, you’re already severely preventing future talent from entering your business. And while Gen Z may not be your ideal candidate right now, they will be in the future. This behaviour is unlikely to go away, so instead of fighting the trend – go with it!

You’ll see much better returns, both in the long and short term.

Limited Interview Process

Preparing for multiple interview processes can be exhausting and time-consuming. If candidates have to partake in multiple interview rounds, the candidate may determine that the job isn’t worth the effort (or accept a competitor’s offer).

Depending on how many candidates you have at that stage, this could dramatically affect your time to fill – leaving the position vacant, and costing the business in the long run.

Limiting the number of interviews will save crucial time, and allow decision-makers to focus on other aspects of the business.

Have Responsive Hiring Managers

It’s no secret that Hiring Managers get inundated with job applications, usually more than they can cope with – but we must remember that there are people on both sides of the hiring process. Searching for a job can feel like a job in itself, and when businesses can take months to respond (if at all) to applications, the best candidates can be ‘closed off’ to your opportunity by the time you get to them.

In turn, that means responsive hiring managers can make a world of difference.

Just being in regular contact with a candidate can make you stand out. For instance, even if a candidate is unsuccessful, appropriate feedback and constructive criticism can turn them into a future asset for your business.

On the other hand, if the only interaction a candidate gets is an automatic rejection reply 6 months after their application, they may deliberately not work for you in the future.

Investing in Your Processes

Changing your processes isn’t something that can be implemented overnight. It takes investment and dedication to properly overhaul your candidate experience.

With that in mind, it can be easier to get Talent experts to provide guidance and assistance to ensure a smooth transition.

So if you need these services, why not contact Fraser Dove and see how we can help solve your talent problems.

When you assess a candidate, ‘gut feeling’ is a common factor — but relying on gut feeling alone has a maximum 52% success rate. It’s crucial you make the right decision when choosing a new VP or Director, so your final-stage process needs to be robust.

At Fraser Dove, we use a range of candidate assessment tools to really understand the person, rather than the CV. After all, too many leaders are hired on their CV, but fail based on behaviours.

So read on as we share our secrets about how to assess final-stage candidates effectively. We’ll tackle the following methods:

  • Using Talent Mapping and Intelligence Data
  • Importance of Unique Assessment Surveys
  • Assessing a Candidate’s Culture Fit
  • Outsourcing Assessment to Specialists

Using Talent Mapping and Intelligence Data

Before you make any crucial business decisions, it’s best to have a good understanding of the current talent landscape. With sufficient intel in hand, you’re better equipped to develop an informed recruitment strategy.

Some of the information you need to gather includes:

  • Competitor insights (organisational structure, recruitment strategy, key hires)
  • Skill (availability, demand, diversity, geographic distribution, salary benchmark)
  • Talent Pool (potential candidates willing to join your organisation)

Benefits of Talent Mapping

While Talent Mapping can take time and resources, a range of benefits makes it an essential step in your assessment process.

Perhaps the greatest benefit is that it gives you a talent pool that you can instantly tap into when the full process begins. This reduces your time-to-fill and means you can devote more time to assessing the most suitable candidate.

You can also benchmark your offers against current market expectations. Offering a salary below current market valuations can quickly stop a prime candidate in their tracks. Make sure you know the current valuation of the roles you want to hire for, and offer a salary using the benchmark as a guideline.

Importance of Unique Assessment Surveys

One element we have found brings significant success is our Assessment Surveys. At Fraser Dove, we use a data-driven platform to assess candidates and map their skills against the current team, ultimately assisting in finding the optimal match.

In order to create properly informed decisions, we have developed a comprehensive 5-stage process.

Team Analysis

Evaluate the current members of the leadership team, to develop a detailed understanding of the culture and team’s dynamics. This gives you an excellent starting point to map candidates, and see how they would fit into your organisation.

Gap Analysis

By using the insights gained from the assessment platform, you can identify critical areas where the new hire should complement the existing team.


Using the data provided by the assessment tool, you can more accurately compare individual candidates. These potential team members can also be referenced against the Gap Analysis to further assist with complex hiring decisions.


Using data gathered from the evaluation tool, you can easily enhance your interview process and learn more about each candidate.

For instance, the evaluation tool may highlight certain topics for discussion. This can let you take the interview in a specific direction, and gain a much better understanding of each candidate’s skills and leadership styles.


Use insights from the evaluation tool to create personalised plans for the successful candidate. These plans will involve training and development, and should help new team members get up to speed quickly.

The more effective you make the onboarding process, the faster your new hire will get up to speed. Effective onboarding processes have also been linked to increased tenure and a greater work ethic.

Assessing a Candidate’s Culture Fit

When you’re trying to hire the right person for the job, remember that they aren’t always the one with the best skills.

In fact, professional skills can be learned and developed — but personality and cultural fit can’t. For instance, on paper someone may seem like the perfect candidate. When it comes to interacting with others though, their personality may not blend well with the pre-existing culture.

Hiring someone who clashes with your values can quickly disrupt your business’ culture, and chase away some of your best talent. That’s why it’s a much better approach to select a candidate who is more closely aligned on values.

Plus, people crave a challenge. If you hire someone who already has all the required skills, chances are they may look for a more challenging role in the near future.

Outsourcing Assessment to Specialists

When it comes to high-complexity, low-volume roles, you might be better choosing to partner with an Executive Talent Consultancy.

Without significant experience and networks, these roles can easily put a heavy strain on your Talent Acquisition team. Instead, it can be more efficient to let them focus on filling a high volume of low-complexity roles, while your chosen talent partner handles the assessment of your more complex positions.

At Fraser Dove, we specialise in solving our clients’ talent problems. If you have any queries, contact us today!

It’s easy to think that your experiences are the norm, but that’s not always the case. Culture can have a massive impact on how women progress through the life sciences, and that varies dramatically between different countries — today, we’ll look at Italy.

A recent conversation between Lift Up Ambassador, Sophie Packer, and Napo Therapeutics CRO, Annabella Amatulli, highlighted some major issues in Italian culture that prevent a significant amount of women from entering the Life Sciences.

We’re going to explore the following topics below:

  • Culture
  • Childhood
  • Further Studies
  • Annabella’s Career Advice


Italian Working Culture

When asked about the culture in Italy, Annabella revealed, “the mindset is really men-focussed; the patriarchy is still in place”. For those who aren’t Italian nationals, what does that actually mean?

For one thing, when someone has to stop working in order to look after the family, it’s automatically a woman who has to make the sacrifice. This was never more prevalent than during the Covid Pandemic, when around 80% of working women left to take care of their families.

Annabella attributes that as one of the reasons why Italy struggled financially throughout the pandemic. Unsurprisingly, this cultural mindset is damaging to both men and women. They both feel intense societal pressure to behave in a certain way, whether or not that aligns with who they truly are.

Of course, one of the biggest concerns caused by the culture is the lack of awareness surrounding women’s issues. Annabella put it perfectly with:

“We need to spread awareness, and then we can transform that awareness into action.”

Because it’s not enough for people to just be aware of the issues, we need to work together to come up with a suitable solution. Both the conversation and action require everyone’s input to overcome these global and systemic issues. In fact, Annabella continues, “You cannot speak only with women and say ‘we found the solution’, it does not work.”

The Part International Organisations Play

International organisations are in a unique position to enact cultural change through their business practices. Since they benefit from multicultural talent, they also become a melting pot of different cultures, beliefs, and experiences.

It’s becoming more common to see women rise up towards leadership positions, which in turn is affecting Italian attitudes.

Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that there’s still a stigma associated with women in the workplace. That means, especially in Italy, women need the courage and confidence to overcome societal pressures if they want to reach great heights in their careers.


Many factors that prevent women from entering the STEM fields and the Life Sciences originate in childhood. From a young age, both boys and girls are being pushed towards archaic gender norms.

For instance, where boys are given blue cars, girls are given pink dolls. As these groups set in, children typically mould their own interests to fit in with their peers.

Annabella recounts that as a child, she loved playing with cars. When she reached a certain age, however, she asked her mum for a ‘Barbie Party’ so she could better connect with the other girls at school.

These types of situations happen all over the world, and it’s common for children to be fickle about their interests — but we need to watch out for when they are compromising their own identities. If it happens frequently at a young age, it can become an unconscious habit, impacting them later in life.

Further Studies

One incredible statistic that Annabella brought up was that in Italy, 54% of female teenagers wanted to pursue a scientific path. This was followed by one far more heartbreaking; only around 20% of female teenagers follow through on this desire.

That’s a jaw-dropping amount of young women who are not following their passions. Instead, parents and cultural norms push them towards the humanities.

Upon visiting a school for International Women’s Day, Annabella asked the girls what they were planning to do in their studies. Roughly 90% responded with “my mama decides for me.”

By taking the choice away from young women at such a vital stage, they are losing agency over their lives. In fact, one girl, in particular, revealed that she was both good at and passionate about Maths. Despite this, she was still forced to follow more ‘traditional’ studies.

In a culture where people aren’t allowed to make such integral decisions for themselves, it creates a ‘generational loop’. One generation impacts the next, making change that much harder to enact.

Annabella’s Career Advice

Annabella repeatedly noted how important risk-taking was to progress her career. While she’s been supported by both men and women, which has enabled her to reach greater heights, she had to take risks — frequently.

In order to keep herself going, Annabella took inspiration from various female scientists. These were all women who had fantastic ideas, and made significant contributions to science, but only by fighting to have their voices heard.

It’s important to remember that fear is normal — but you have to understand when you’re capable of doing a job. It’s easy to feel like you’re not ready, or that you need more experience, but you’re better off just taking the risk and going for it.

If you need help in this area, check our guide for finding a mentor.

And before you commit to join the initiative, why not read more about Lift Up: Women in Life Sciences?

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