Growing up, Tanya Green wanted to be a marine biologist because she loved whales and dolphins and wanted to spend her time out on the ocean to study them, but it didn’t work out as she’d envisioned. “However, my first time on a boat—while whale watching, ironically—I got seasick and decided that being on a boat might not be the best career choice,” she explains.
Her love for the sciences never wavered, though. She went on to get a degree in biology and later a master’s in regulatory affairs and health policy as she’s established her career in the biotech industries, most recently as the VP of Global Regulatory Sciences at Blueprint Medicines, a global company that aims to invent life-changing therapies for people with cancer and rare diseases. “It creates a huge sense of purpose for me and it’s what gets me out of bed feeling excited to do what I do to support our teams and business,” she says.
Here, Green shares her thoughts on equity, diversity, and inclusion at Blueprint Medicines, becoming an effective leader, and finding work-life balance.
Tell us about your career journey. What inspired you to pivot from biology to work in regulatory affairs?
After graduating from Suffolk University with a bachelor’s degree in biology, I did some networking and landed an entry-level job at Genzyme as a QC analyst testing raw materials used in our products. While I loved the work, I knew I wasn’t meant to be in the lab forever. Through this role, I met regulatory affairs professionals and really liked their role within the company. I decided to learn more about regulatory and went back and got a master’s degree in regulatory affairs and health policy from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Prior to getting my master’s degree, I transferred into a regulatory role at Genzyme to work in the medical device division supporting international filings. I loved that regulators saw more of the drug development process.
What attracted you to work at Blueprint Medicines?
My previous boss and mentor reached out to see if I was interested in interviewing for a regulatory position working on the lead program. I researched our scientific platform, leadership, values, and vision and decided to interview. Fortunately, Blueprint hired me as the regulatory lead for our systemic mastocytosis program.
What are you responsible for in your role, and what are some unique challenges to your job?
I lead Blueprint Medicines’ global regulatory sciences department, which includes global regulatory and clinical strategy, chemistry manufacturing and controls (CMC), regulatory operations, advertising and promotion, intelligence, and compliance. I am responsible for developing the regulatory strategy across our portfolio of genetically targeted kinase inhibitors. I am also responsible for managing our health authority interactions, including attending and facilitating meetings with regulatory agencies. I work closely with our chief medical officer and other members of the research and development (R&D) leadership team to support clinical development planning with an eye to regulatory submissions.
Another important part of my role is attracting, retaining, and developing high-caliber regulatory professionals and doing so with an eye toward equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Why does the work you’re doing at Blueprint Medicines excite and inspire you?
At the end of the day there is a patient, a family, and a caregiver who is depending on a medicine that may improve their quality of life and give them hope of prolonged survival. It creates a huge sense of purpose for me and it’s what gets me out of bed feeling excited to do what I do to support our teams and business.
Tell us about Blueprint Medicines’ equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives and your involvement in them.
At Blueprint, we have three equity, diversity, and inclusion (ED&I) subcommittees: culture, external, and workforce, which I co-chair. Being involved in the workforce subcommittee, we are driving diversity in our recruiting processes, inclusion through our plans to create employee resource groups, and equity in ensuring our promotion process removes any unconscious bias by implementing inclusion champions.
Within the regulatory department, we have a student fellowship program that provides a wide breadth of hands-on, real-world regulatory experiences.
Why do you think equity, diversity, and inclusion are important in the workplace?
It’s important to have different perspectives within your team and in your workplace. Also, empowering all employees to feel safe and to have the space to be open and share their collective experiences is how we build a better workplace and support belonging. I think this is critical to our culture and, at the end of the day, this type of collaboration drives productivity.
How would you describe your leadership style? What skills and traits have helped you succeed?
My signature strengths that I tend to lead with are kindness, humor, humility, and curiosity. As a leader, I think it’s important to be vulnerable, which helps build trust and psychological safety. I like to motivate and inspire my team to be creative and have freedom to think. I set the vision for our team and then let my team execute and build upon it. Transparency and communication are key to keeping your people engaged and I also think it’s very important to provide the tools people need to get their work done efficiently, removing redundancies and barriers.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in a leadership role, and how have you overcome them?
Earlier in my career, I had a hard time balancing my work with my personal family obligations. I often struggled to be present both at work and at home because I was constantly working. Even at work meetings, I would be on my laptop. It was as if I was constantly trying to keep up, so I would bring my work home. This created a huge amount of guilt not being more available for my husband and young children.
There were a few actions I took to help me overcome these challenges. One was actually a women’s leadership circle I was able to join at Blueprint. Within this circle, I learned more about myself in terms of what drives me, how I can show up better, and ultimately how to ground myself when I am feeling anxious or stressed. At work, I used different tricks to help allow myself time to focus, like creating blocks in my calendar, so I could work on things or respond to emails, which also allowed me to be present in meetings. (I also started leaving my laptop and phone at my desk when attending meetings so I couldn’t be distracted). Lastly, I found ways to focus on my own well-being, such as spending more quality time with my family (by enforcing sit-down family dinners a few nights a week), mediating, and getting physical (gym classes at 5AM and women’s soccer one night a week).
What advice do you have for other women who are striving to achieve leadership roles?
Don’t let your inner critic get the best of you. There have been studies showing that women are less self-assured than men, and that for us to succeed we need to have confidence as a core competency. Don’t let this hold you back and believe in yourself, in your experiences, in your education, in your abilities and be confident about what you bring to the table.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Ground yourself, be present, and be your authentic self.