Lilli Petruzzelli, Global Head of Translational Clinical Oncology
At Novartis, we value the contributions of women at every level of our business. We are proud to offer women the opportunities they seek, that allow them to explore their passions, develop professionally and address some of society’s most challenging healthcare issues.
That is why we are especially proud to share our latest Stories series dedicated to the women in science within Novartis Oncology. We look forward to personally introducing you to the women helping develop innovative oncology medicines for people with cancer and related diseases.
In recognition of Lung Cancer Awareness Month this November, this installment of “Novartis Presents: Women in Science” features Global Head of Translational Clinical Oncology and Lung Cancer Researcher, Lilli Petruzzelli, who shares her thoughts on the benefits and challenges of working on a team.
When did you first know you wanted to work in science?
Lilli Petruzzelli: Arriving at a career in science has been an evolution. In high school, I was always comfortable with science and math, but was far more excited learning about literature and history.
After visiting colleges, I had the choice of attending several liberal arts schools or MIT. There was something about the approach at MIT that drew me in, and once there I fell in love with chemistry. I also studied biology and explored a number of classes that combined both subjects. My studies opened my eyes to how to solve problems using different approaches, and from that point on I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in science.
What is your advice for young women and girls interested in science?
Lilli Petruzzelli: I think the most important thing is to love what you do. In my day-to-day interactions, I advise the people I work with to not worry about making mistakes. Get your ideas out there and take advantage of the strong people who surround you. Putting ideas on the table can be difficult, but seeing them flourish from the input of those around you is truly exciting.
It is easy to worry that you might not be right or that your idea is not baked enough to discuss in public; however, more times than not, you’ll be on to something and the win from additional feedback and collaboration can be energizing.
What is your favorite part of your job at Novartis?
Lilli Petruzzelli: My favorite part is working with such highly motivated and bright people. I lead a small, fast-paced group at Novartis and the excitement from the rapid flow of ideas and solutions never gets old.
What is the most challenging part?
Lilli Petruzzelli: My most challenging part of my job is putting diverse groups together to make decisions. Developing molecules is a Herculean effort that requires personal dedication and creativity but also clear decision making.
Share one thing people would be surprised to know about you; what is your secret talent
Lilli Petruzzelli: In my spare time I really enjoy making desserts and pastries. I have always had in the back of my mind that my second career would be as a pastry chef.