If you’re a STEMM professional, what motivates you in your role?
While professional ambition and job security can be strong motivating factors, for many in the field there are also the altruistic reasons that draw people in – such as knowing you’re making a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
For Rose Fida, her rich, interesting career path has been shaped by all these factors. She has been with CSL for more than ten years, in multiple roles, and is currently Senior Director, Research and Development (R&D) Governance and Head of China & Japan Project Management.
But she’s also experienced the hardship of close family members suffering life-changing diseases, and this too has shaped the direction and passion she finds in her career. Rose shares her compelling career journey and why she is proud to be part of CSL’s promise to help patients lead better lives.
“If I can contribute to the development of drugs to support people with unmet medical needs and help them avoid the trauma of a disease severely impacting, or taking their life, that’s enough for me to get up every day and do what I do.”
Following your heart
Growing up, Rose had a talent for math and was always passionate about science and medicine. Before starting her career, and despite just winning a university-level math competition, a high school teacher advised Rose not to pursue science and maths subjects, as these vocations “weren’t careers for girls”.
“But it made me even more determined to pursue my interests and goals and prove that gender doesn’t limit your ability or career choices. Thankfully, I had supportive parents who, despite their conservative migrant upbringing, encouraged me to pursue a biomedical scientific career.”
She completed a Bachelor of Science, during which she developed a keen interest in forensic science (possibly disconcerting for visitors, but not surprising, her home library is full of true crime books).
After Honours, she completed a Ph.D. in Physiology, then gained a position at the Victorian Pharmacy College (now the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences) as a Senior Scientist in the Department of Pharmaceutics.
She was then promoted to Pharmacokinetics Team Leader in the Centre for Drug Candidate Optimization. During this time, she worked on multiple small-molecule lead candidate optimization projects.
But among all these achievements and early career high points, there were some unfathomably low points as well.
“Three years after I finished university, my father passed away from a rare, aggressive cancer that had few treatment options. This life-changing event made me focus my career toward the development of oncology drugs.”
Rose moved into a Project Management role at Mayne Pharma (now Pfizer) where she worked on a portfolio of global oncology injectable drug projects and was promoted to Global Project Leader.
“These industry roles were amazing and exposed me to all facets of drug development, from lab to launch. But I wanted to gain more hands-on experience in the clinical and regulatory fields, so I moved from a large pharma company to a small biotech company.”
This proved to be one of the best career decisions for Rose.
“We focused on developing small-molecule drugs. The great thing about working at a biotech company is that they’re smaller-sized businesses, so you’re exposed to multiple drug development disciplines. As the Drug Development Manager, I managed clinical trials, toxicological studies, and submitted and maintained regulatory dossiers. I also managed the manufacturing and testing of drug substances, the formulation, and supply of drug products, and contributed to the research and development of new oncology drugs.”
A few years after her father’s passing, another member of Rose’s immediate family was diagnosed with cancer.
“Thankfully, we got through it, and my family member has fully recovered. Cancer is a disease that, regardless of survival, profoundly and irrevocably impacts patients and families.”
One of her proudest achievements from this time was contributing to the development of momelotinib, to treat myelofibrosis – a type of bone marrow cancer that disrupts the body’s normal production of blood cells.
“Years later, I discovered my uncle had an unmanaged myelofibrotic condition, with limited treatment options. Soon, he may benefit from treatments, such as momelotinib. It was a realization and moment that will stay with me forever. While I may not have been able to help my father, I may have contributed to a drug that could help his brother. I remember feeling a sense of fulfillment and that I had contributed to something that would change and benefit other people’s lives.”
Did you know? The “mel” in momelotinib was named for “Melbourne” where the molecule was first discovered and developed.
A new direction
Rose then accepted her current position at CSL as an R&D Program Manager.
“While CSL’s focus is not oncology, it does develop medicines for patients with unmet medical needs in other serious and life-threatening conditions. The company is amazing. I’ve worked in several roles, from managing its Early Development project portfolio, to a director-level role managing both programs and project collaborations/partnerships.”
“CSL holds true its philosophy and commitment to patients. This resonates with my philosophy of working in a company where I can contribute and help those patients to have an improved and better quality of life.”
CSL has been recognised by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) as an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality.
Learn more about other employee benefits at CSL.
Giving back to others
Rose’s primary motivation is supporting patients with unmet medical needs, to help them and their families avoid the pain of disease severely impacting their lives.
“When you or your family is impacted by a life-changing disease such as cancer, contributing to an area which you know will benefit other patients and families is so motivational and rewarding.”
As many STEMM professionals can attest, there’s an element of quiet achievement.
“I’m only one member of a team, a department, a division. Drug development isn’t an individual endeavour; it requires thousands of people working together to contribute to its success over many years. In the years to come, I hope people will remember my contributions to teams and projects, how I collaborate with people, offer my input, experience, and creativity as an R&D Project Management leader in Australia.”
At this time in her career, Rose chooses to follow her heart, to continue to learn, and to dedicate time to the things she’s passionate about.
“My hope is to continue contributing to the development of life-saving and life-changing drugs to meet unmet medical needs and to keep myself motivated and engaged through constant learning.”
If there’s one thing Rose wants to encourage others to do, it’s to follow your heart and do the things you love.
“Do things that inspire you. A job doesn’t really work when you’re doing something that motivates you. Don’t let others tell you what you can and can’t do because things change. Life shapes us. But when you follow your heart, you can shape and transform the lives of others for the better, too.”