Brinda Bhaskar’s exciting leadership career at GSK India

Brinda Bhaskar’s exciting leadership career at GSK India

 June 02, 2020

Women at pharmaceutical company GSK undertake rewarding work. Brinda Bhaskar plays an integral role as Head of Biostatistics in India and is responsible for setting the vision and direction for her unit.

Biostatistics (India) is key to the global Biostatistics function at GSK as the department contributes significantly to strategic decision making in the drug development process.

“We are a department requiring both scientific and operational excellence. We apply our quantitative expertise for optimal use of trial designs in an efficient manner,” Brinda explains. “We have a team of 125 staff and are still in the expansion phase, with the team at the forefront of many global initiatives within GSK.”

Brinda offers Where Women Work insight into working life in her leadership position of Head, Biostatistics (India).

Life at the helm of Biostatistics (India)

“I am responsible for setting vision and direction for the entire unit, comprising both statisticians and statistical programmers,” says Brinda. “Key responsibilities include overall accountability for all deliverables pertaining to key project and non-project activities with high quality. Other areas of focus include recruiting talent, managing department budget, representing my unit in senior leadership teams, promoting GSK culture and values; collaborating seamlessly across borders, developing strong leadership within the unit, enhancing visibility of the department externally and building a strong integrated global team.”

Brinda explains that her unit in India is totally integrated with GSK’s global Biostatistics unit and considered to be a critical part of both the statistics and programming teams globally.

“Our contributions are huge in terms of both project and non-project activities, which are of great value in the big picture. We contribute to important global clinical trials, submission activities and other non-project initiatives, which are innovative in nature and define the path of future technology to be adopted within the company,” she adds.

“The ongoing expansion of the unit in India is evidence of the success of our team and our contributions. We are proud that our work plays a key role in the success of the GSK portfolio in various therapy areas, addressing needs of patients, payors and regulatory agencies.”

A fulfilling and challenging position

Brinda describes some of the most challenging aspects of her role, along with the elements she enjoys most.

“My role is multifaceted, interwoven with many interesting challenges,” she suggests. “One of the challenges is to hire and retain talent. The market is very dynamic, with many new companies establishing in India, thus making it critical to hire and retain great employees. For successful talent acquisition and retention, there is a constant need to devise different strategies aiming to keep staff motivated and to offer strong career development plans.”

Brinda explains that Biostatistics is a very “intensive area” and the landscape evolves rapidly due to a changing regulatory environment and emerging technologies: “I have the responsibility to keep abreast of these changes and ensure we’re heading in the right direction. Working in a very dynamic organisation that sees constant change, plus having the challenge of change management for a big unit, ensures there is never a dull moment.”

Brinda enjoys the opportunities her role offers in terms of defining strategy for her department, collaborating with colleagues in a global environment, plus interacting with and developing individuals within her department.

“Another aspect of my role that is very enriching is the opportunity to build various levels of management within the department and the coaching of staff to progress into strong leaders,” Brinda adds.

Feeling supported through a strong company culture

GSK Brinda Bhaskar

Brinda describes the work culture at GSK and how it helps her bring her best self to work. “We have a very open and friendly work environment with honesty, integrity and ethics at the heart of GSK. Respect for individuals is a thriving part of our culture and transparency at all levels is expected. We believe in being our authentic selves as a part of the modern employer agenda and GSK is a very people-friendly company with many opportunities for staff development,” she comments.

Brinda explains that her personal values of integrity, honesty and ethics are very much aligned with GSK’s values, and this helps her excel in all that she does.

“As a leader, I feel empowered to be myself, show my strengths and vulnerabilities, which in turn makes me more authentic and credible. It is a privilege to work in such a supportive environment that puts people at the forefront.”

Positive experiences as a woman working in India

As well as feeling supported by GSK’s work culture, Brinda adds that she is encouraged by the positive strides being made in India regarding women in the workplace.

“In India, we are currently in a changing and dynamic environment as far as women employees are concerned. Opportunities are galore and women are making forays in every field imaginable. In many organisations there is a focus on inclusion and diversity, plus a focus on hiring more women and developing them into senior leadership roles,” she comments.

“Common biases from the earlier India are now becoming obsolete. Modern India is very much talent driven and gender-related taboos have reduced considerably. Professional women also aim higher, have greater confidence and are willing to go the extra mile to achieve success. They are very career-oriented, determined to succeed and I also observe that women are more willing to utilise support systems at home, to balance home and work life. For example, women are employing cooks or making use of daycare centers for children.”

Brinda suggests that home-based roles and increased flexibility offered by many organisations is making life easier for India’s professional women. She notes: “Professional women have amazing talent, they are much sought after and they lead very busy lives both at home and work.”

Sharing salient advice for further women

GSK India Brinda Bhaskar

So, with the above-mentioned points taken into consideration, what advice can Brinda offer to further professional women hoping to work in her field at GSK?

“Go for it,” she encourages. “Pursuing a career in the Biostats area can be an interesting, challenging and fulfilling experience. From the outset, I would encourage women to think through their career plans and interests. Those with a strong statistical background with an interest in working in clinical research are most welcome to review openings and apply. In the programming area, those with good analytical abilities and strong programming skills can explore suitable positions. It’s important to understand one’s own strengths and what possibilities exist in expanding those through different jobs.”

Brinda adds that although technical skills in statistics and programming are valued in her department, those are not the only skills of interest. “We are constantly on the lookout for candidates with good logical skills, project management experience, interest in learning new software, innovative problem solving skills, strong leadership and communication skills,” she says. “All of these are in the context of having strong technical skills and knowledge.”

Brinda adds some general career advice, shared from her own perspective: “I encourage all young women to figure out what their passion is, what motivates and interests them. It helps to have some goals in mind before attempting to chalk out a path for yourself. Things may not be clear initially and that’s perfectly okay, but it’s good to be ambitious and have some goals. Don’t underestimate your abilities. Remove the fear of failure from your mind and move forward with confidence.”

Brinda believes no one is ever fully ready for any role - you have to take the risk and give it a shot. “You will most likely succeed, but make it a habit to step out of your comfort zone consistently to really enjoy the benefits of personal development,” she adds. “Be ambitious, be a risk taker and forge ahead with your aspirations.”

Enjoying down-time outside of work

Brinda kindly shares insight into her own personality, both at work and at home, and stresses the importance of making time to pursue one’s interests.

“I’m a confident professional, passionate about my work and I have a natural flair for communication. I’m very people oriented and love interacting with everyone in my team. I am also committed to whatever I do, with a huge sense of accountability,” she says. “As a person, I aim to come across as friendly and approachable. I like to bring positive energy into any environment, along with a good sense of humour. I would describe myself as someone who is straightforward, fair and I hold my values close to my heart. I mean what I say and say what I mean.”

Brinda also enjoys learning new skills and challenging herself outside of the workplace, with her key interests being music and travel.

“I am interested in Indian classical music and I’m learning Carnatic vocal music - I passed the junior exam in music a few years ago (I’m a late starter!). I am also a certified counselor, so I enjoy meeting with people, learning about them and helping with any issues they may have. I enjoy travelling, exploring new places and learning about different cultures.”

Work with innovative female leaders like Brinda at GSK

Do you feel inspired by Brinda’s work and her experiences at GSK?

Now could be a great time to search and apply for job opportunities at the company.


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