Innovation Leader, Cell Therapy
What does a life sciences innovation leader do? Dolores Baksh, Innovation Leader for Cell Therapy Technologies, will tell you that she is the bridge between R&D, product management and marketing, focusing on bringing the customer into solution development earlier in the process to bring the right technology solutions to manufacturers of cell therapies. She sees her role as a humbling opportunity to participate in delivering the technology that will be used to manufacture products that will treat-or potentially cure- patients with serious illnesses like cancer.
An outgoing type-A person with a desire to help people, Dolores had planned on becoming a doctor. Then, during her pre-med studies, she was inspired by the emerging science at the intersection of biology, medicine and engineering. She completed her undergraduate and graduate studies in chemical and biomedical engineering, where questions lead to experiments, which lead to results, which lead to actions, ultimately leading to solutions for patients. She resolved to pursue a career in life sciences as a way to add value and contribute to those solutions.
Developing leadership skills
Dolores was fortunate to find a champion, a manager who was willing to mentor her and take a calculated risk. She says, “It’s important to have a champion who sees value in you as a leader as well as a contributor, and trusts you to ask for help when and if you need it. My mentor took a calculated risk on me, and trust and I stepped up to the challenge.” Combining practice with theory, she also read voraciously about leadership and management but the real world experience is impactful.
Point of pride
Prior to joining GE Healthcare, Dolores built an R&D team from several people to upwards of 25 people, during a time of transition at her previous company. Her success was in building a highly eclectic team with many different areas of expertise, creating a culture of cross-pollination, and breaking down silos to build a sustainable organization. This experience allowed her to define leadership for herself. She is most proud that she led by example, demonstrating by her own working style, by listening and addressing “the things that mattered,” that she wanted her team to excel, in life as well as in work, as a team, and as individuals. Through this experience she redefined and developed her own management style.
The impact of digitalization
“Digitalization is transformative. In life sciences, it is not only strategic to the business, it is an impact area for the science. Knowledge is power. With digital, being able to access data for decision-making in the moments that matter and actionable insights will help healthcare and patients for years. I hope that being able to correlate data to patient outcomes could help the industry drive toward long-lasting therapeutic efficacy. Data analytics will have a big role in advancing the life sciences.”
Some words of advice
“Network! Cast your network of connectivity wide, with people from different walks of life, and keep networking throughout your career. Define a path forward, but be open to opportunities and possibilities. Don’t be focused on linearity—be willing to think non-traditionally.”