We all embark on our chosen career path for different reasons. And that’s especially true in the health tech industry. The tech field presents a wide range of job opportunities, so to figure out what drives people to health tech in particular we asked three GlaxoSmithKline ("GSK") employees: Rebecca Gasser, Director of AI Services; Odean Maye, Director, Digital Engineering; and Ranjith Raghunath, Director, Head Platform & Tools, Data CoE. This is what they had to say:
Commit to a Larger Purpose
Even though these days Rebecca is immersed in technology, she didn’t always know she wanted to work in tech.
She worked as bartender for a while and graduated with a degree in Business Management from West Chester University in Pennsylvania, when a friend suggested she work with computers. So when Rebecca chanced upon a consulting company that offered free training in exchange for placement at help desks, she signed up. One of her early assignments as part of the consulting company was to work at GSK as an applications integrator.
A year and a half later, in 1999, Rebecca became a GSK employee and never left. “Even at that young age of 22, I knew I was going to retire from this company because I was so passionate about what we were doing. We were staring at Y2K and trying to understand how it was going to impact us. It has always been exciting to be a part of major technology impacts."
Those "major impacts" are what makes a difference for Rebecca and why she continues to be passionate about work at GSK. Her work involves using artificial intelligence to make all operational aspects, including delivery of customer service, easier. “I can tell you we are committed to solving problems and to getting people to live a healthier life."
Rebecca is especially impressed by GSK’s commitment to its larger purpose to: help people do more, feel better, live longer. “I believe in preventative medicine and approaching life in a healthy way and I love how we always have our patients in focus when we're doing our work," Rebecca says. “We're figuring out how we can solve their health problems."
She recognizes that people in technology have the option of working anywhere but she points out that healthcare touches every one of us. “We’re all human, when you’re working in healthcare tech, you’re making a huge impact," she says.
Make a Difference
Odean was drawn to computers after working at a Sprint store selling cell phones and seeing the impact technology was having on people. He was hooked and graduated from Old Dominion University with an undergraduate degree in computer science.
Shortly after college, GSK won Odean over with the opportunity for a job where he could create a lasting impact on people’s lives. Odean now leads a team at GSK that writes code to develop new health-centered apps (think Fitbit-like solutions and others that can help consumers track and use medications effectively).
Odean believes there is inherent value to all the innovations in the tech world—people’s lives are improved by new products and advances. That’s true even more so in health tech. "That’s even more pertinent to people because they are trying to live a longer life, they’re trying to feel better, they’re trying to do more. And we’re working to be able to give them solutions that will allow them to do that."
Usher In the Future
Work that makes a difference was also one of the the biggest attractions for Ranjith. Ranjith had already been doing extremely well in his career prior to being approached by Mark Ramsey, Chief Data Officer at GSK. “Do you want to come change mankind," Ramsey asked. Ranjith was sold.
Ranjith says he looks for three criteria in a job: Are you working on cool stuff that will change the world? Are you pushing the needle? Are you working with a group of people who are passionate about what they do? Working at GSK, Ranjith says, checks off all those boxes. “I get to drive the vision of what Pharma will look like in the next ten years and be a part of that from the ground floor."
Ranjith was pleasantly surprised to learn that you don’t really need to have had a career in the life sciences to work in health tech. “They don’t need us to be scientists, what we really bring to the table is tech talent: how do we solve problems with innovative approaches that we would have used in other places?" he says.
Ranjith personally has people close to him who suffer from unknown neurological conditions, as he puts it. “It’s sad that we haven’t found a cure for so many [diseases], but that’s what motivates me is the impact we can have in this industry to address core problems," he says. “We can conduct studies on genetic samples that are so large that it will enhance our ability to pick the next set of winners."
Equally important, the pharma business he says, is changing. “We’re getting more data-driven and that means being operationally efficient but we’re also increasingly playing offense rather than defense, when it comes to healthcare." That’s a huge paradigm shift in that we’re using data as a strategic enabler, Ranjith says. “I’m really glad that guys like me get to be part of that incredible journey."
So, if you’re looking to make an impact, take a look at common jobs in the healthcare tech industry:
Photo of people in video meeting courtesy of Luis Alvarez/Getty Images.
Poornima Apte is an award-winning freelance writer and editor with a special knack for distilling complex concepts into easy-to-understand language and for telling people's stories with empathy. She is happiest when her bedside stash of books resembles a Jenga pile.More from this Author
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