Spearheading leadership development as a woman in STEM: Hélène Trottin
This Saturday (11 February) marks International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Meet Hélène Trottin, Senior Technical Specialist at Pharmaron, who following her Biochemical Engineering studies identified an opportunity to further enhance her leadership skills and business knowledge through a Level 7 Senior Leader apprenticeship. We spoke to Hélène about her experience and journey to take on a leadership role as a woman in STEM.
Tell us a little about yourself
Following my Biochemical Engineering studies in France, I decided to start my career in the UK… and I’ve never left since! I have 10 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, leading both early and late-stage projects for a range of biologics products. I currently work as a Senior Technical Specialist at Pharmaron, a leading life science R&D service company, where I drive innovation and provide CMC expertise and leadership for gene therapy projects at our Gene Therapy CDMO in Liverpool.
When did your passion for STEM begin and what drew you to this vocation?
I’ve always liked studying science in school, and my university placement really helped me apply theory to practice. For me, working in science was the perfect opportunity to combine the excitement of developing innovative drugs and problem-solving, with the reward of improving patients’ lives around the world - this was enough to convince me!
Is there anything you have achieved that you are particularly proud of and why?
I recently obtained an MBA, through the Senior Leader Master’s Degree Apprenticeship (SLMDA)’s ATAC programme. It was an intense but rewarding experience, which allowed me to further enhance my leadership skills and business knowledge. I have a scientific background, and it could sometimes be hard to understand why an organisation makes certain decisions or how to challenge practices in the right way. I now feel as though I have the knowledge and skills to do this.
Please share a positive experience you had, perhaps with a mentor or taking part in a programme, which propelled your career and gave you more visibility.
Between 2017-2019, I had the opportunity to join the BIA Manufacturing Advisory Committee Leadership Programme (MAC LeaP), which was an eye-opening experience. It helped me create a professional network, increase my industry knowledge (specifically any common challenges and best practices), and develop new soft skills essential to any leaders – all benefits that made a real impact on my career.
If you could invite any scientist or entrepreneur to dinner, who would it be and why?
It would be Claude Grison, a French researcher and entrepreneur who won the European Inventor Award in 2022. She found an innovative way to depollute soils using plants. While it’s totally different from what I do in my job, I think I could learn a lot from her, whether regarding innovation, sustainability in science or being a woman in a leadership position.
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