We spoke EADA Alumna Chiara Chianese, who graduated from the International MBA (Class 2018-19) about her purpose in the healthcare sector. Chiara currently holds the position of Development Scientist at Ferring Pharmaceuticals. As part of the Reproductive Medicine & Maternal Health team, she helps people build healthy families by fostering research aimed at developing innovative fertility solutions and improving ART treatment access. During her graduation year, in 2019, Chiara founded FertiBOT, a chatbot that helped to improve patients’ mental health during the fertility journey.
How have you committed to contributing to a better world?
It is only since I completed my MBA that I have realised how I can use entrepreneurship and innovation to solve a real-world issue. As a scientist, I have always had this frustration of working relentlessly in the lab without seeing the real impact on the patient. However, today I have the chance to work for an organisation where I can use my knowledge and energy to bridge this gap between research and creating a real impact for the people who need it. There are, however, a number of pitfalls in science such as the distribution of resources. A lot of the investment in research and many of the projects that sometimes last for years and cost millions of dollars never end up reaching the patients. My commitment is to create a better world by helping to improve this system.
Your commitment started at EADA when you detected a problem that you wanted to address regarding the experience of infertile patients and from there you founded a startup. What path have you taken since then?
At EADA, I learned how to solve a problem in the world. As a scientist, I used to work with a lot of patients that had fertility issues. They were going through a very hard time and carried a heavy emotional burden which is why I thought that providing them with mental health support was a great way to create an impact for these patients. While I was working on my start-up, one thing led to another, and I ended up with this opportunity of working in a bigger company with the same purpose and value of solving and providing the best solutions in reproductive medicine.
What are the main challenges that you have to face every day to achieve this commitment?
It is important not to get distracted by the background noise that we are subject to every day. When you work for a big company, there are some dynamics you have to follow and procedures might go slower than you would like which means it is sometimes easy to lose focus and lose sight of your motivation. For me, action without motivation is meaningless.
Could you explain your achievements over the last few years?
I feel humbled when answering this question about achievements because I think there is so much I still have to do. I believe that my work has raised more awareness in the world about what infertility is and how this is a disease that affects peopl. It is not just about people wanting to have children. It is about people who suffer because they cannot comply with a social role. I think that one of the most important things that I have accomplished is being able to talk to as many people as I can and raise awareness that it is worth fighting for these patients.
In your opinion, what is a professional or a manager with a purpose?
I think that a professional or manager with a purpose is someone who is able to align their work with something that is bigger than their paycheck and bigger than themselves. They’re fighting for a bigger cause that matters to them. I think these people are fantastic role models.
What can professionals do to align a company’s purpose with the common good?
First of all, I think that purpose has to be defined from a company perspective. It is very common to have employees feeling demotivated because they are not really clear about what they are doing and why they are doing it. Having a clear purpose also defines the actions that have to be taken within the company to achieve its goals.
Apart from defining purpose, what other aspects would you highlight?
It is also very important to focus on the culture within the company especially when there is a growth mindset culture, because the company will grow. We often see managers at the top of the ladder who are good at managing but might not hold all the knowledge and then people at the bottom of the ladder, who have the information, but feel like they cannot act on it. When these two worlds are aligned, I believe a company can grow.
What advice would you give to future professionals in the business world to work with purpose?
The first thing I would say to anyone is get to know themselves. Personally, it was very important to carry out a self-reflection and understand what matters to me and put my energy into those goals. It is also important that you love what you do. Regardless of your position, you have put in the maximum effort possible because in every situation in life, there is an opportunity to learn and the more you learn, the more skills you acquire, the closer you will get to achieving your goals and your purpose.
How would you define the concept of sustainable and responsible leadership?
There is a quote attributed to St.Francis d’Assisi which says “preach the gospel at all times, use words if necessary”, which means to lead by example. We are not what we say we are, we are how we behave. I believe that a leader’s responsibility is to inspire people and to provide them with a challenge that they can tackle, because if you give people a challenge and a reason to work, they will give their best. I believe that businesses are not standalone entities but they are made up of people. Whenever you have leadership and employees who are all empowered in the same way to tackle a problem in the society, it creates business with a purpose.
In what way is technology the key to advance in the sector? Are there other factors?
Technology is extremely important. The healthcare sector is already using artificial intelligence to predict new biological models or biochemical interactions between molecules. The problem arises when these new technologies encounter the obstacle of regulations, which have not been updated. It is also important that people learn a new set of skills to be able to use this kind of technology. We need a new generation of managers and professionals in the industry, who have the ability to ask the right questions when technology is involved.
What is your next challenge in terms of purpose?I recently changed jobs so I now live in a different country and I am learning a new language. My next step towards my purpose is to learn everything that I possibly can in my new role as well as have the opportunity to meet more people in the company. I think that this is a very important step for me before I can get closer to my next purpose.
Where do you see yourself in five years?I see myself in the medical sector because of where I am now but I don’t aspire to only being in the same field. My purpose is to help those who have been overlooked and fight unfairness and I work for a company that shares these values. I want to be proud that I have had an impact on the people I am working to serve, as well as the people around me.