The first Michaelmas term lunchtime talk of the CEB Career Talk Series kicked off in style last Thursday 23 October 2014 with alumna Dr Mridula Pore in a packed lecture theatre. In her talk, "How Chemical Engineering prepared me to lead a £ Multimillion Pharma Business", Dr Pore, Head of Retail at Sandoz Ltd, talked about her own experience as an undergraduate. She also highlighted how the skills gained here in the Department helped her to succeed in her corporate role.
Mridula Pore matriculated in Sidney Sussex in 1999 and graduated with a BA and MEng degree in 2003. Following a gap year, she went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to obtain her PhD in Chemical Engineering Practice and MBA at MIT Sloan. Her research focused on continuous manufacturing and the dynamics of commoditisation in the pharmaceuticals industry. In 2009 she returned to the UK to work at McKinsey London, where she was an engagement manager in the UK healthcare and European pharmaceutical practices. In 2013 she joined Sandoz Ltd., a Novartis company as Head of Portfolio, and is currently Head of Retail, UK, taking care of the patented drug industry market, deciding on a commercially viable product portfolio to be stocked in high street pharmacies. She regularly gets involved in data analysis and product marketing focusing on unique selling points.
She highlighted how developed economies cannot sustain tremendously high costs of healthcare and how she experiences increasing pressure in her day to day job to address the health needs of the population whilst managing costs effectively due to the constraints in the NHS.
Her undergraduate years training as a chemical engineer have not only shown her how to communicate clearly and produce good presentation documents but has also helped her make wise investment decisions in a rapidly changing market in her day-to-day job. The skills learned whilst doing her research project as an undergrad have proved extremely valuable - "knowing how to work in a team, respond quickly and mobilise, working under pressure are key", Mridula commented. "As a Research Project Team member I had to stand up to defend my work ideas based on robust data analysis. Presenting data in a convincing, compelling manner was great training for me. However, do expect to be able to handle challenge! Be confident as you need to grab concepts easily and understand their ramifications".
She added that the Entrepreneurship module was extremely helpful too as the commercial aspect is closely linked to the technology needed to be able come up with a commercially viable product. She also touched on how studying in Cambridge and working for a multi-national company in a multicultural environment have helped her become culturally aware, which is a great asset to have in the global world we operate.
Mridula has come a long way since her time here and as Head of Product Portfolio in Sandoz she is now able to time and pace investments to facilitate growth in the pharma business. She currently lives in West London and, incidentally, she is married to Raj Shah, a fellow Chemical Engineering classmate she met in the Department.