Merav is the head of translational sciences at Teva. Here, as part of International Women’s Day 2019, she discusses her role in making sure cutting-edge drugs can be translated into treatments for people, her passion for contemporary art… and the importance of being able to see into the future.
I’ve got a very cool job. I head a group that’s called translational sciences and we basically act as a bridge between discovery and proof of concept studies in humans. The goal of our group is to make sure we support selection of the right doses and relevant patient population; we formulate and execute a plan to minimize the risks during development of novel treatments.
On a typical day my diary is full of meetings and discussions – strategic ones as well as tactical and operational. This involves taking part in brainstorms into planning and challenges relating to projects, sitting in different governance bodies and committees, and intensive work with my leadership team to create a more effective, pleasant working environment.
Friends think my job is really exciting, because I can really make a difference in people’s lives – developing drugs that previously did not exist. I follow my dream and enjoy every moment of it. On top of that, we use a lot of cutting-edge science, new methodologies and digital and big data.
Whether you’re a woman or a man, it doesn’t matter in my field – for example, a woman is the head of big data and machine learning in my team. I have quite a few women in my part of the organization, and my leadership group consists of two women and three men, so it’s more or less equal.
Developing the ability to see the future, take a strategic view and connect the dots is vital to the development of managerial skills. The science is important, of course, as is an understanding of drug development, but I have excellent people in my leadership team to help with all that.
The advice I received that I quote the most is that everything you are doing is a journey, and as such it’s not going to be uphill or downhill all the way, but will swing between the two. We need to learn to enjoy the journey.
I knew that I wanted to develop medicines when I was six years old, and I have no idea why. It’s not something that was linked to a disease in the family - my parents worked in law and the media - and it’s not like anyone in the family was doing that already. I just knew.
My advice to young people today is the same as I gave our two children: follow your passion. When my daughter was trying to decide what to study she couldn’t decide between law school and political science. But she was passionate about political science. So I said, go to political science – you’ll study something you’re passionate about. If you choose to study a given subject because of the job prospects at the end of it, you may end up not happy nor successful.
My real passion is to travel - particularly finding places and things that local people like to do, I also really like contemporary art, so wherever we go on holiday I look for small museums and art galleries. I like to feel inspired by people who dare to think differently.