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Life Sciences Director Shares Her Career Story and Who Inspires Her

In celebrating Women’s History Month, Swati Patel, Director at Clarkston, shared with us her career story and beautiful words about what this month means to her and who inspires her the most.

Women’s History Month 2023

Who inspires you and why?

Every mother inspires me.  No role compares to that of a mother.  She carries a child for 9 months, endures the unimaginable pain of childbirth, and gives new meaning to unconditional love.  A mother is the master of multi-tasking.  She manages the household, usually serves as the primary caregiver to kids, and manage their careers all without skipping a beat.  She is capable of doing the unthinkable.  Nothing is impossible for a mother if she puts her mind to it.  Every mother is my superhero.

Why is Women’s History Month important to you?

This month is important to me because it reminds everyone that women are capable of extraordinary feats.  They have demonstrated this in the past and continue to do so today.  By celebrating women this month I hope it brings awareness to those parts of the world where women still don’t have equal access or opportunity to education, speech, or a better life.  We need to continue to help those who are less fortunate than ourselves and find ways to give back to this often overlooked and deprived community.

It’s nice to have a month dedicated for recognizing women and their contributions.  However, this shouldn’t be celebrated only 1 month in a year.  Women should be recognized all year long for the numerous contributions they have made and continue to make.

The 2023 Women’s History Month theme is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories,” what does that mean to you and how have other women’s stories impacted your own?

To me this means we are celebrating women’s freedom to speak and tell their stories how they want to, when they want and what they want to.  It is an opportunity to share and inspire others or simply bring awareness about women’s plight to those who don’t know.

Growing up I feel I couldn’t find anyone to relate with.  I was the first in my family to be born outside of India.  I was raised between eastern and western cultures that often conflicted in traditions, values and way of life.  It was a time when diversity was feared and not necessarily valued but forced onto people to accept (e.g. affirmative action).  It was later in my 20’s when I started to appreciate my uniqueness and understood that being a woman and a minority was not a double whammy, but a different competitive advantage.

Swati’s Career Story

How long have you been with Clarkston?

I have been with Clarkston for 18 years.  I started in 2003, left in 2005 to take a break from consulting, and returned again in 2007.  I have been with Clarkston ever since.

What is your role at Clarkston?

My role started as an SAP functional consultant.  Then, I moved into managing SAP projects.  First, they were small and then they were larger implementations.  For the last 8-10 years I have been working with biotech or startup pharma companies who are in pre-clinical or clinical stage transitioning into commercial organizations.  I have moved away from SAP and more into Operations and Strategy.

Tell us about a new skill you’ve developed recently.

I recently learned how to use Lucid Chart instead of Visio for making process flows.  I find it hard to learn new technology because everything is changing so fast.  I prefer to use what works for me, but after a point you have to move with the times or you get left behind — more so now than ever before.

If you had to choose, which of Clarkston’s core values do you feel resonates with you the most?

“Brilliant Client Service” and “Differentiated Performance” core values resonates the most with me.  I feel this is what defines our Clarkston brand and people who work here.  We do this for our clients each and every day.  Nothing is more rewarding or satisfying for me personally than when a client praises us for the work we do for them.

How has your work changed post-COVID?

I value my personal time more post-COVID.  I think I have become better at managing my time and clients so that I make time for myself not just on Fridays and weekends, but every day.  I find a way to shut down work at a reasonable hour to give myself at least 1-2 hours every evening to unwind.

What advice would you give to someone starting at Clarkston?

If someone is starting straight out of college or after working for 1-2 years, I would tell them to learn as much as they can by working in as many different projects and initiatives they can.  They shouldn’t build barriers to what they can or want to do just yet because they haven’t fully grasped what they like and don’t like.  They need to experience different things first, then decide what they like to do and what they don’t like to do.

What drove you to accept Clarkston’s employment offer?

I honestly can’t remember, but what I do remember is when Clarkston approached me for an interview I wasn’t looking for another job.  I was happy where I was.  I went through the interview process simply to practice my interview skills and see what Clarkston had to offer.  The people who interviewed me sold Clarkston so well, I felt they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.