Meet the Pharmacist: ‘I accept that life is a rollercoaster’

Jelena Cabo-Aras, Teva’s Director of Primary Care and Respiratory Medicine for the commercial team in Croatia, talked to us about her early life, passions – and the advantages of being tall.

I was more interested in natural science than in social sciences
I’ve wanted to be a pharmacist since my early childhood. A friend of my parents was a pharmacist and I was attracted to the way she talked about her work. She said that being a pharmacist would be a good choice for me.

I grew up in Sibenik, a small city by the sea
This small Croatian town has a population of just over 37,112 1. My mother still lives there and I spend most of my summers by the sea. My sons and I love to swim. Everyday life there is much slower than in Zagreb, where I live now.

I would say I am more goal-driven than competitive
I was always interested in medical matters at elementary school. I took part in a country-wide competition for school teams to demonstrate emergency assistance techniques for people in accidents. And we won.

I was 14 when war broke out in Croatia
We spent a lot of time with our neighbors and friends in a very difficult situation. We were often not allowed to leave our homes. We didn’t go to school very much during the war, which lasted four years from 1991-95. During that time, we learned at home and from the radio. Even though my high school was interrupted, I studied hard and enrolled in university.

When I reflect on that time, I realize...
... things could have been quite different. As a teenager, I did not think a lot about bad things, even during wartime. We all loved socializing during the free time that we had, but my family and myself, we stayed alive... many did not. The war shaped me as a person in the way that I accept all challenges that lie ahead, in both bad and good times. I accept that life is a rollercoaster.

My favorite part of the day is when I feel extra productive
There are times when my team and I go beyond our everyday jobs. I’ve worked at Teva for eight years – and it doesn’t happen every day - but we try.

I am not good at expressing emotions
Having said that, I enjoy working with people and helping them develop. I hope my co-workers would describe me as an encourager and not a control freak! I have a large team and I strive to create a good atmosphere and encourage them to do more, to be more creative.

There is a lot of pressure on pharmacists today to be profitable
It is a very demanding job. During my childhood, a pharmacist was seen more as a medical professional and many people went to them for advice. The pharmacist knew local families and helped solve their problems. It is somewhat different today. In addition, the number of medicines available in the world now is huge and nobody can know everything that is available, and yet that is often the expectation. It would benefit everyone if the relationships between general practitioners and pharmacists were developed further.

I have a three-year old son, so I don’t have time for hobbies
When I have time, I like to read and listen to music. I am currently reading a book about how to raise boys, “The Making of Men” by Dr Arne Rubinstein. I have two boys and I want to understand their brains.

I am a night person
I have had to adjust because of work, and my children. But really, I don’t like getting out of bed in the morning.

I didn’t want to be tall
I’m just over 6 feet (185 cm) and when I was a teenager, I didn’t want to be tall. But when you are an adult, your perspective changes. Even when there are many people around me, I can still see into the distance. 

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