M.S. Chemical Engineering - McGill University
By day, Anjali Pradhan spends a lot of time problem-solving. In her work focusing on molecular pathology and personalized medicine, she’s always trying to uncover the “aha” moments — whether it’s presenting new information to the FDA or researching cancer drug breakthroughs. But at home, those same kind of moments happen while spending time with her son and husband, sharing stories and jokes about their day over dinner.
To keep herself organized and focused, Anjali says, “If you can meet or exceed your deadlines at work by prioritizing and planning, your family — and you — will be happy.”
Let your passion guide your decisions.
How did you discover your current job?
An ex-colleague referred me to my current job.
Prior to this, I had seven years of experience in a mid-to-large size biotech life science company in product management. I had started in the research and development (R&D) group and was always curious about customer applications of our product/technology, as well as managing a product line. Through a role as a technical application specialist, I was able to transition into product management. In this position, I was privy to informal conversations that helped me learn about the company, their goals in biotech diagnostics and the perspective from their investors prior to accepting the position.
How do you organize your day?
I always like to plan ahead. I start by looking at my calendar — appointments and meetings — and make a to-do list for both work and home activities. But however busy I may be, I always check in with my team to make sure they’re supported in their daily tasks.
What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?
As a leader in the management team, I feel a complete sense of ownership of the business. I take responsibility managing my team and the tasks at hand. I’m motivated to do my best, given the challenges we face as a fast-growing company.
My current position gives me opportunity to use my analytical, problem-solving and communication skills. You know the job is a right fit for you when you know you’ve had a productive day; you sense a feeling of accomplishment, yet you look forward to tomorrow’s challenge.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
When a customer tells us the impact our technology or product could have in their research — perhaps a new breakthrough or the possibility of a new drug for cancer — it’s simply amazing.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
I always think about our company goals, what needs to be done to accomplish them, and what’s next for me and my team.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
Work/life balance is always a challenge and I think it should be — if everything were too simple, life would be boring, right?
Multi-tasking is key. Being a mom and spending time with kids at home versus finishing up that last set of work documents is never easy. For me, it was important to realize what’s most important —and that’s my family. That realization implied using my time at work efficiently so I could leave at 5:30 p.m. and pick up my son in order to get in a few hours of quality time. We talk about our day, cook dinner together, and laugh about silly things at school and work. Having quality time with my son and spouse and helping them understand what matters to you always helps.
While this juggling isn’t simple in my line of work, if you can meet or exceed your deadlines at work by prioritizing and planning, your family — and you — will be happy.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!” What was it?
I’ve had a few of those ‘aha’ moments, like the time I presented to the FDA, or the first time I presented at the company board meeting. It felt wonderful to realize that I can do this — and so much more.
Another proud moment was the first time someone asked me for career advice and mentorship. I think I’d rather have many more little “aha” moments than just one big one.
What are some of the rules you live by?
1 / Plan ahead and be ready for the week; both for the family and for work.
2 / Always prioritize. Everything can’t be done; something will need to give.
3 / Speak up and people will listen.
4 / Believe in yourself and your organization. Stand up for your team.
5 / Don’t try to be someone you’re not. If it doesn’t suit your personality, don’t overdo it.
6 / Work out. Always find time to do something physical to challenge your body; it will energize your body and mind.
7 / Last, but not the least, always remember to laugh and to smile. Everyone needs a good laugh.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
Leadership and problem-solving skills. People skills in communicating and most importantly, listening. And of course, per the job description: plenty of technical skills.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
Believe in yourself, work hard, and let your passion guide your decisions. And travel if you can and explore while you’re at it! There’s lots to see and learn in the world that will always help build experience.