Interviewing CSOFT Health Sciences Strategy Advisor, Amgen VP for JAPAC, Professor Victoria Elegant; CSOFT Health Sciences SVP, Strategic Partnerships & Medical Writing, Dr. Nimita Limaye; and CSOFT International Founder & CEO Shunee Yee
In celebration of International Women’s Day, CSOFT Health Sciences is bringing together three women leaders who are committed to building a healthier world. By sharing their perspectives, they will impart wisdom and explain their passion for bringing treatments to patients around the world to improve their lives. With us today are Amgen VP for JAPAC, Professor Victoria Elegant, CSOFT Health Sciences SVP of Strategic Partnerships & Medical Writing, Dr. Nimita Limaye, and CSOFT International Founder & CEO, Shunee Yee.
Professor Elegant is a Hong Kong-born physician of Australian nationality, has lived all over the world, from London and Dublin to Hong Kong, Sydney, Shanghai, Kobe, and Singapore. Having served in executive roles for companies including Baxter, Baxalta, Sanofi, and Amgen she has expanded her work into the fields of education and oversight, building training programs for doctors in Asia-Pacific and becoming co-chairperson of the China Medical Affairs Network and serving as a key advisor to CSOFT Health Sciences. As an expert in drug development, medical affairs, and regulatory affairs she has been helping companies bring their medicines and medical devices to Asia, and stimulating the work of physicians in the region by giving them the tools that they need.
Dr. Hope：Professor Elegant, as a mother of three with a highly engaging professional schedule, how do you balance mothering with the passion and dedication that you commit to your work?
Professor Elegant: It is always a constant juggling act, as a woman one always feels guilty – not being the best mother, not being the best at your job, not being the best partner. One has to let go of this and realize at different times, different things will take priority – sometimes your kids will take priority, sometimes your job. Prioritize, let go of what is not important, who cares if the house is messy and make sure you spend your time on things that really matter. Also get as much help as you possibly can – my mother told me that and it is true. If you can get others to do non-value add tasks, it frees you up for what is important.
Dr. Hope：With your nearly 30 years of experience in medicine and health science, what kindles and re-kindles your passion for bringing a positive impact to the lives of patients around the world?
Professor Elegant: Seeing the positive difference in patients, both individuals and large groups of patients. My mother died of colon cancer 20 years ago, and I have helped developed medicines which would have made her live longer, had she developed it years later. I have a friend with a chronic condition, who started on a recently developed therapy, who told me ‘this literally changed my life for the better.’ Seeing that children with hemophilia do not end up in a wheelchair because they get the medicines they need. These are some of the reasons I am passionate about what I do, and especially in Asia, where I was born and brought up, which has over half the world’s population – there is so much we can do in partnership to improve people’s lives.
Dr. Hope：With the COVID-19 making millions stay home to work, what is a tip you could provide about working from home?
Professor Elegant: I have been working from home for 5 weeks now in HK. We also have school closures here, so both are a significant challenge for millions of people across Asia – China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea. Luckily my children are older so I don’t have the home schooling in addition to full-time working challenge. I have learnt to make sure that I am getting my news and updates from reliable sources and avoid sensationalist news, stay connected with others – we are using FaceTime and video for meetings. Make sure to look after your health, so keep exercising, eat sensibly, it is very easy to put on weight! Most importantly, keep your sense of humor, this will come to an end!
Dr. Nimita has held executive leadership positions, working across global pharma’s including Siro Clinpharm and Altana Pharma, CROs including Quintiles (now IQVIA), consulting companies including Tata Consultancy Services, and has been an entrepreneur, strategic advisor and mentor for start-ups in life sciences. She has served as an industry thought leader, presenting at global leadership forums, chaired the SCDM board, given keynote talks (including at DIA) and has interfaced with global pharmaceutical and medical leaders. She has rich experience leading clinical data management (CDM), risk-based monitoring (RBM) and medical writing operations, and recently joined CSOFT Health Sciences Boston as VP of Strategic Partnerships and Medical Writing.
Dr. Hope：If you could sit down with any executive in the medical community, what would you ask them?
Dr. Nimita: Based on recent conversations with senior industry leaders, I believe that in a world that is going increasingly ‘virtual’, the industry is struggling with the need to remain ‘patient centric’ and retain touch points with patients, while effectively leveraging technology to deal with issues such as patient recruitment and retention, challenges associated with data interoperability and data integration, the ability to mine real world data (RWD) to derive meaningful insights which could support effective regulatory submissions. Other issues include ensuring data privacy and security, driving regulatory compliance and minimizing drug recalls. I would like to understand from the medical community where do they see the biggest challenges and evaluate how CSOFT could partner with them to help resolve these issues.
Dr. Hope：With your deep expertise in medical writing, data management, and risk-based monitoring leadership, how do you think language impacts the medical world?
Dr. Nimita: While data is the currency, it is language that brings out the value. The highly-regulated pharma industry involves multiple paradoxes. While there is a need to be concise, objective, and neutral while authoring regulatory documents such as protocols and clinical study reports (CSRs) on one hand, there is a need to use simple ‘lay-language’ addressing local cultural sensitivities while authoring documents such as lay summaries on the other hand. True expertise lies in the ability to seamlessly bridge this gap. Per International Women’s Day, it is interesting to note that the medical writing workforce is dominated by women, who represent 65% of the workforce; the number of women leaders in healthcare is steadily growing.
Ms. Shunee is one of Fortune’s Top 10 Most Powerful Women in 2012, the recipient of an international Stevie Award for Best Asian Entrepreneur for Women in Business, a Top 25 Globalization Executive by Globalization Today, and was identiﬁed by CNN Money as one of technology’s 36 most powerful disrupters. She has been recognized for her passion and many contributions in the sphere of education including to the Johns Hopkins US-China Studies Nanjing Center for its cross-cultural program, as well as to Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative. She sits on Dexter Southﬁeld School’s Academic Board, and is a Committee member of A Taste of Ginger by Harvard Medical School’s Joslin Center, for promoting awareness and education in support of the Asian American Diabetes Initiative.
Dr. Hope：As a cross-border communications leader, CSOFT has been providing a full range of end-to-end localization/translation in over 250 languages for enterprises in a diverse array of industries, but why is CSOFT Health Sciences Boston special, and you said it’s “personal”?
Shunee: Throughout your lifetime, health sciences touches you – through your friends, parents and colleagues. Everyone will experience it in their lifetime and that makes it personal. It’s not so much that just doing it for yourself, it’s something you’re doing for your friends,your families, friends, colleagues, and the greater community.
The East Coast, particularly Massachusetts, New Jersey, and North Carolina, is now the country’s number one biotech hub for medical research and biopharma manufacturing. Surrounded by top schools like Harvard, MIT, Boston University, Tufts University, and Northeastern Boston is at the heart of where talent meets innovation. Health Sciences touches every one of us in a very personal way. It’s about science, innovation, policies, human advancement, and above all care and love. To me, this is a business that is worth pursuing for generations to come.
Dr. Hope：That’s very interesting, Shunee. A final question for you: what is a healthy tip you’d like to share for 2020?
Shunee: At the beginning of the year, we started a campaign with our Boston Marketing team called “Healthy 2020”which details a top 10 list of healthy tips. My favorite of that top 10 list is to have a sense of humor. No matter how hard times get, or how dire the situation seems, like Victoria said – “Most importantly is to keep your sense of humor – this will come to an end!”
Dr. Hope: To second what both Shunee and Victoria said above, as the British say, it’s essential to “keep calm and carry on.” Interestingly, this was an expression that came about in response to the Spanish Flu of 1917 when things seemed grim. Now that we’re wrapping up this interview, I’ll go put the kettle on – there’s always a good reason for sharing a cup of tea.
March 9, 2020 @Boston
By Dr. Hope