The Digital moment has arrived for healthcare and pharmaceuticals, and our industry is at an inflection point. Science, data and digital technologies are coming together like never before, offering an unprecedented catalyst to reimagine medicine. It has never been more important to embrace this powerful combination and approach complex biology as a computational challenge, upending traditional approaches to customer engagement and revolutionizing the way we work.

Attracting and nurturing highly sought-after technology talent, while continuing to create compelling development opportunities for our own bright minds, is key to making this happen. And, as 74% of data scientists and 79% of data engineers are male, it’s undeniable that the world of data and digital has traditionally attracted more men than women – a trend we #ChooseToChallenge.

At Novartis, we are empowering more women than ever before to join this field, and supporting our people to flourish in the rapidly evolving world of data science.

Iya Khalil, Global Head of the AI Innovation Center at Novartis, recently sat down with three female associates united in their passion for data science – Amy, Argy and Vera – to discuss their journeys and reflect on their aspirations as they progress in their careers.

Iya Khalil, Global Head of the AI Innovation Center at Novartis

 “Don't be afraid to declare your intentions. The only way to predict your future is to make it happen. Be bold and be heard, and let us inspire an army of female data scientists to do the same.” Iya

United in their passion for Data Science

At Novartis, we believe that a fusion of skills and adaptive approaches to problem solving achieves better outcomes. That’s why we’re working towards removing the barriers to enter the field of data science, and dispelling the perception that only data scientists and data engineers can pursue a career in the AI domain.

Amy, Argy and Vera began their careers in very different places; Amy in biochemistry and clinical research, Argy in business and marketing, and Vera in economics and information security. Inspired, curious and unbossed they each joined development opportunities provided by Novartis. Amy is pursuing a Masters in Data Science with the University of Michigan. Vera and Argy have joined an internal program, the Women in Data Science Accelerator, aimed at women with two or more years’ experience in a data-related field or qualifications in a numerical discipline.

We #ChooseToChallenge

The key to unlocking the potential of data science and digital technologies is our people. Our culture stimulates curiosity and promotes opportunities to learn from, and embrace, our diverse perspectives; because when everyone can be their true self and bring their unique life experience to work, we can discover more, reach underserved communities, and reimagine medicine together.

We are therefore committed to building an inclusive and equitable work environment that nurtures unique and curious minds, where everyone can bring their whole self to work and be inspired to innovate. These are ambitious goals, and the stakes are high, which is why it’s exciting to see that, supported by Novartis, women like Amy, Argy and Vera are opening the door even wider for others to follow.

Novartis offers a variety of programs specifically targeted at women, designed not only to facilitate entrance to the field, but to support associates to excel in it. These programs have played a major role in shaping Amy, Argy and Vera’s careers.

Inspired, Curious and Unbossed to Reimagine Medicine

But what about the participants? What inspired the decision to explore data science through the programs Novartis supports, and what have Amy, Argy and Vera taken from these experiences?

Argy wanted a better perspective of the Novartis Data & Digital vision, to learn about pilot projects powered by AI and explore the different statistical methodologies and state of the art technologies used to fire up the Novartis data engine. And she also gained the opportunity to work cross functionally and cross country on a mini data science project, meeting leaders and ultimately leaving the program with an ignited passion for data science, empowered to drive her future career forward in data and digital.

Argy Tzitzi, Insights Excellence Manager

 "Don't be afraid to try things. The world is plenty of opportunities. You need to dream big and Data Science is always a nice area to work in as you have exposure to many aspects of an organization." Argy

For Vera, her curiosity propelled her to explore how she could develop in the field, learning and sharing best practices, connecting with peers and hearing about their journeys. She has benefitted from working with a new group of people, learning more skills and deepening her knowledge.

Vera, Treasury and Cash Management Specialist for Novartis in Prague

 "I would like to be a CFO in future and I believe that a diversified range of skills would help me think out of scope and out of the box." Vera

Amy, having chosen to pursue a Masters in Data Science, believes that this program will play a key role in her personal and professional development as both a scientist and a data scientist. She plans to apply her newly acquired data science skills in data mining, data analysis, visualization, modeling and machine learning, to advancing current and future research programs, with the goal of bringing even better medicine to our patients.

Amy, Senior scientist at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR), in Emeryville, USA

 "My wish for the future is to learn more knowledge and skills about Data Science and apply these to current and future research projects to help tackle some of the greatest health challenges." Amy

Women in Data Science Accelerator Program

The Novartis Women in Data Science Accelerator Program is a six-week training and mentoring program, aimed at associates with a passion and curiosity for data science. Participants develop foundational skills with mentoring alongside participation in real-world projects. The program is open to anyone who identifies as a woman with two or more years’ experience working in a data-related field or with qualifications in a numerical discipline.

AI for Life Residency Program

A first-of-its-kind for the healthcare industry, this 12-month program provides an unprecedented opportunity to apply cutting-edge data science and AI expertise to real-world healthcare challenges. Through the program, participants work alongside leading scientists and business teams to gain a broad understanding of Novartis and the industry while getting hands on with some of our most innovative projects across the entire Drug Discovery Cycle

Bring your skills and help transform the future of health

We will share more stories over the coming months of our people, so watch this space for further insights! In the meantime, if data science interests you, below there are plenty of resources available to help you find out more.

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