From new grad to Chief Scientific Officer in less than 3 years. 6 tips on career growth from Taciana Pereira.Featured
I spoke with Taciana Pereira, Chief Scientific Officer at Allevi, the world’s first 3D desktop bioprinter, which is beautifully designed and precision manufactured to create tissues for precision medicine and drug discovery applications.I spoke with Taciana Pereira, Chief Scientific Officer at Allevi, the world’s first 3D desktop bioprinter, which is beautifully designed and precision manufactured to create tissues for precision medicine and drug discovery applications.Taciana grew up in Brazil. She was admitted to a local private high school through a sports scholarship, and there, she met many classmates who went on to attend universities in the United States. She was inspired to do the same but would only be able to attend university with at least 90% financial aid. She embraced every opportunity her high school offered and was eventually admitted to Harvard early. At Harvard, she started exploring mathematics and physics, but found her true passion in bioengineering. She loved the impact that tissue engineering in particular could have on the future of medicine. She lost all 4 of her grandparents to cancer so creating change in healthcare was especially important to her. She met David Mooney, a prolific bioengineering professor at Harvard and went on to work in his lab. When it came time to consider full time career plans, Taciana initially thought about consulting or pursuing a PhD. But she wanted to be able to make an impact with her work from the start, so she felt that startups would be a great fit. She discovered Allevi, a startup that is automating tissue engineering, which was closely aligned with her research background and interests, and she joined them as a bioengineer. As a bioengineer, Taciana focused on specific research projects, but she was quite fascinated by other research and the other functions at the company, so she began taking on more responsibility on the business side. She then became Director of bioengineering, then VP of Life Sciences, and, ultimately, Chief Scientific Officer at Allevi. Taciana shared her advice for career growth, learning, and productivity. Be relentlessly curious. Identify and double down on your interests. Immerse yourself completely in them through work, mentorship, speaking with people who have found success in the area, and continuously reading and listening to content on the space. You can learn a ton in even a short period of time and outside of work: Taciana spent a few weekends engaging in VC programs and learned so much about running startups and fundraising. Validate your ideas. Women and younger women in particular often do not feel comfortable speaking up in meetings or sharing their ideas, especially if they are new or different from the existing discourse at the company. Taciana felt the same early in her career, so she started validating her ideas to be able to feel more confident in speaking up and sharing them. Be transparent about what you want. In some cases, you may be passed up for an opportunity without malicious intent but simply because leaders in the company did not have a clear understanding of your goals. Too often, people and especially women feel it is taboo or otherwise frowned upon to be explicit about promotion or salary-based goals, but it is important to be vocal about these in the context of career growth. In this way, people know to think of you and how to create the best possible experience for you. Moreover, through vocalizing your goals, you can better internalize them yourself as a possibility and better visualize yourself achieving them, which further helps to empower you. Be clear on milestone metrics. In a similar vein, after you share your goals, have a conversation with your boss or other leaders and team members to gain clarity on what they consider “success” and what metrics they tie to specific career milestones at the company. While you can always go above and beyond, having a general sense of what to prioritize and how to pace yourself is incredibly helpful. Calendar everything. In addition to adding meetings to your calendar, also include work you need to do, independent of any synchronous interaction. Break your larger goals into monthly or weekly goals and then into daily and hourly goals to ensure you achieve everything on your list.Trust yourself. Trust that you will achieve your end goal through your incredible abilities and tenacity. Even during challenging times, hold onto this faith and find peace in the process.