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7 Questions on Leadership with Sujata Mehta

Name: Sujata Mehta

Title: Retired

Sujata earned her Ph.D Degree in Biochemistry from Rutgers, The State University of NJ following a Masters degree in Chemistry from Georgetown University, Washington D.C. She performed her postdoctoral research at Johnson & Johnson Company in the RWJ Pharmaceutical Research Institute, Raritan, NJ. Then she grew her career from a Quality Control bench scientist to Associate Director, Quality Control at ImClone Systems Incorporated, an Eli Lilly subsidiary at Branchburg, NJ. During this tenure of 12 years, she contributed towards the development and launch of the immuno-oncology drug for head and neck cancer, Erbitux for cancer patients across the world.

Then she moved on to a leadership role as Quality control Director at Medarex, a Bristol Myers Squibb company located to participate in the development of two lead immuno-oncology biologics drugs that were later launched for melanoma, named Yervoy and for small cell lung carcinoma named named Opdivo worldwide for patients.

• Extensive experience in leading QC and QA teams in biopharmaceutical manufacturing organizations. She has been a versatile, results driven American Society of Quality (ASQ) certified manager of quality and organization excellence who is passionate about developing people and teams to maximize their potential in delivering high quality innovative medicines to patients. Sujata also strategized and executed change in organizations towards promoting excellence. She successfully led diverse workforce and worked cross-functionally to aspire and motivate team members to their highest potential in winning quality excellence awards in their company abd delivering high quality biologics products while ensuring site compliance and supporting continuous improvement initiatives. "

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Sujata's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

As a leader, the most challenging part was to keep the staff inspired and motivated to perform at their best even during adversity of facing site closures and lay-offs in the company.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I feel like I was leading and teaching my young cosuins and friends in the neighborhood from my childhood. I am an empathetic people oriented person who wants to get the best out of others to be successful in their career and life so leading teams came naturally to me through a lot of hard work and perseverance and recognition of my quality of work by the senior management in the various companies that I worked at. I grew up the ranks from scientist to supervisor to manager to associate director to director over the years and led large teams of anywhere between 25-100 employees in various large pharmaceutical companies.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I am an early riser who starts the day with a short prayer and meditation. I go about taking care of my spiritual and physical routines and then get a good cup of tea with overnight soaked almonds. I work through various activities during the day and also do some walking and yoga in the evenings. My bed time is around 10:30 pm when I check news on social media, meet friends for dinner, watch some TV and read and get into bed around 10:30-11 PM after faily personal hygiene routine.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

The recent leadership lesson that I have learned is to be listening more and talking less to be a more effective leader and build personal connections with staff members working with you and show interest to offer support with their personal development along with getting the goals accomplished through them at work.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

The book that I highly recommend for leadership that I have read and applied is "How to win friends and Influence people" by Dale Carnegie early on in my career during my Dale Canegie leadership trainings.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

The one piece of advice to a young leader that I would be to be authentic and lead by example. You have to showcase your strengths and weaknesses and show your staff how they helped you refine your leadership skills over time.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

The one meaningul story that comes to my mind is that I made sure that quality culture was embraced by all in my organization. That helped during the high and low points at the workplace as everyone would look after each other and help so as not to compromise on the quality of product or services provided by my organization.

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