Welcome to the Woman of the Week podcast, a weekly discussion that illuminates the unique stories of women leaders who are catalyzing change throughout the life sciences industry. This is the last installment in the podcast series but we hope to continue telling the stories of women leaders elsewhere across our site. You can check out all our past episodes here.
When Novartis entered the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) conference this year, the company was packing big news.
A phase 3 study testing its oncology drug Kisqali in combination with endocrine therapy showed that it reduced the risk of recurrence by 25% for early stage patients with HR+/HR- breast cancer. Already a blockbuster CDK4/6 inhibitor for advanced stage breast cancer, the results could open the door to Kisqali being used on two to three times more patients if the FDA approves it as an earlier-line therapy.
It’s these kinds of results — from what the company called a “landmark trial” — that have kept Christy Siegel at Novartis for nearly two decades.
“Novartis invests a tremendous amount of money and resources into drug development. And not just any drug development … (but) truly transformative (products) for patients,” Siegel said. “There's twice as many patients living with HR+ to negative early breast cancer than there are with metastatic breast cancer, so the opportunity to help those patients be cancer free for as long as possible, to live for longer, is exciting.”
Now the oncology portfolio general manager for breast and women’s cancers at Novartis, Siegel has spent 18 years working her way up the ladder at the company, mostly in specialty medicines. About a year and a half ago, Siegel, a scientist by training, moved into oncology, which she called the “hardest” area yet.
“The unfortunate reality (is) that cancer is smart and it changes,” she said. “Even when you have a patient who's getting the best cancer care with today's medicines, they will likely progress at some point. And so they need options.”
Personally, Siegel said Novartis’ recent trial win with Kisqali was like coming “full circle.” When asked about a “wow” moment in her career, Siegel recalled a town hall meeting at Novartis when she stood up in front of “the entire organization” and told the story of her children’s journey with epilepsy and their near-death experiences.
“For me to tell my story openly and embrace my full self and appreciate that, that experience makes me relatable both to people that I work with, to the teams I'm going to be leading and to the patients that I'm serving. So there was a power in that moment,” she said. “Then I come full circle to when we did a celebration internally for the (Kisqali) trial readout … to make an impact of that magnitude for people, to bend the curve of life, despite all my own personal emotional baggage … it was incredibly rewarding.”
In today’s episode of the Woman of Week podcast, Siegel discusses the potential of Kisqali, the mentors who’ve guided her career, her approach to leadership and her quest to “unleash the power of people.”
Welcome to while the Women of the Week podcast by PharmaVoice powered by Industry Dive. In this episode, Taren Grom, former editor-in-chief emeritus at PharmaVoice, met with Christy Segal, the oncology portfolio general manager, breast and women’s cancers at Novartis.
Taren: Christy, welcome to the podcast program.
Christy: Happy to be here. Thanks for having me.
Taren: Christy, you have been with Novartis for more than 18 years. So I have to say, Wow, we know that's highly unusual in this day and age, what has kept you with the organization all this time?
Christy: Yeah, I can't even believe it's 18 years, I usually do the math, I joined in 2005. So that's how I do the 2023 minus 2005. And we get to it's been 18 years, and counting. I. So at its core, I would say Novartis really connects with my values, I went into health care. Pretty quickly, when I graduated from college, I went into pharmacy school. And a lot of that is just based on who I realized I am and how I can help make a difference. So when I was younger, I, I knew pretty quickly that I wanted to work in fields, that are more pioneering in nature, and that I also really wanted to help people who needed hope. And that might be people who are, are marginalized. For people who are listening to this, you have no idea what I look like. So I have red curly hair, which as an adult is an awesome feature. But as a child, to be honest, was a little bit difficult. And so I know what it's like to feel a bit isolated and a bit lonely. And so that that really fed into me this, this need to give back and desire to give people hope. And that if you're wondering how does that relate to how I met, Virtus. That's what got me into healthcare, I felt like in health care, there's so much opportunity to help people who really, really need it. And Novartis invests a tremendous amount of money, and resources into drug development. And not just any drug development, not me to products, but truly transformative areas for patients in new mechanisms of action, new platforms that are untried, and there is risk associated with that. But I value that Novartis takes that risk, because without risks like that, we will not continue to progress, and helping people reimagine medicine and live the best lives that they can. So to be honest, I think the Novartis mission of improving and extending life very much resonates with me and my values. And as part of that, because it's an organization that's constantly innovating, it also creates a lot of opportunity for people. So I've never had a reason to leave, I have felt a tremendous amount of personal and professional growth, given the different types of opportunities I've had, and the different supports. I've also received from Novartis, in terms of coaching, as well as something called tecnam, high sustainable human performance. These are these are things that make you a better individual and a better leader. And very much resonate with me bringing my best self to work, so that I can achieve my personal vision, which is to bend the curve of life. And now with a focus specifically on the US. And as an American, who's pretty much lived in the state of New Jersey for the majority of her life. I feel like I can take all of the experiences that I've had at Novartis and even j&j Before that, and really make differential impact on my personal mission. And Novartis is goal to improve and extend life.
Taren: Thank you for that. And I have to go back. I love the gingers. I mean, I find that so interesting that your hair color has like helped develop your career and persona. I love that you embrace it. Now. I have to ask you Do you also have green eyes?
Christy: I do have green eyes. I do. But then your next question will likely be Oh, do you have kids and do they look like you? And the answer is no. They completely look like my husband. They have darker skin, darker hair and brown eyes. So the ginger ends here.
Taren: Now, for now, right? You know you don't have your kids could have kids that have ginger too. All those experiences at Novartis and I know speaking of your children, this might be like having to select your favorite child. But is there a experience that has been a bigger highlight for you than another?
Christy: So I've learned from every experience that I've had, which to me that learning is just part of who I am. So it's hard to say one is better than the other, I will say probably the biggest learning curve I've, I've had thus far in my career at Novartis, was actually moving from the specialty medicines business. So I spent the majority of my time at Novartis in different specialty medicines areas, and came to oncology about a year and a half ago, and I think that that move was probably, again, the, the hardest one I've had to face and, and probably too, because of the business circumstances, as well, as it was almost like going to a new company, to be honest, there's a lot of circumstances there, that made it that is making it highly memorable. So it's like the scientific aspect, which I also find highly intriguing, because as I've mentioned before, I'm a scientist by my background, so that very much resonates with me. But when, when you've worked in, in an organization for a very long period of time, you know how that organization works, you have a lot of relationships and, and networks, and you know how the practices that you're in, in terms of the customer base also behave. So this was like, change at every level, in terms of the therapeutic area, the way that the pace of the science, the detail of the science, the way that customers operate academic medical centers, versus the community setting. And then the whole internal ways of working, creating new networks, figuring out how the organization worked, and how that's different and discrete from, from where I came from, and specialty medicine. So it was, it was, like I said, it was almost like moving to a new organization. But um, what, what I, I'm proud of and appreciate is that there are so many things in common as well. So in specialty medicines, things, strengths that I think I brought to the business in solid tumors, and particularly in breast cancer are things like how do you distill complex scientific data into simple and compelling and differentiating messaging? How beside a field sales specialist, are we communicating and getting in front of our customers, when I think about our customers, the majority of patients, especially in breast cancer, are treated at the community medical oncology setting. And that's almost like the prime, it's almost like a primary care of oncology. These medical oncologists are treating every type of cancer under the sun, and they may only have a handful of metastatic breast cancer patients that they're treating. So for us to expect that they're able to stay on top of the fast paced science, I've heard upwards of five new scientific advances come their way a day. So So imagine trying to distill that remember it and then put it into practice? That's something that I think I have a strengthen from my previous experiences, and quickly brought into the solid tumor franchise, and specifically within the breast cancer team. And the other aspect is, data in and of itself doesn't necessarily change behavior. We need to understand what else is important to the customer if they're processing all this information that's coming at them across multiple types of cancers. In addition to simplifying the messaging, what else needs to be true to support the change in their practice? market access, for example, are we in a favorable or unfavorable market access position relative to the other treatment choices that are out there? What else does the office staff need to safely and efficiently start a patient on kisqali? For example, these are aspects that I don't think we historically at Novartis in oncology, have had to focus on because of our history, especially our history in Gleevec, which basically sold itself because of the level of transformation that it was. But but the science and the environment that we're operating in has changed and COVID certainly hasn't helped that in terms of the amount of time that a community oncologist can spend with a patient. So I think that while it was the hardest learning curve, I also clearly see that I brought strengths and experiences from specialty medicines that were highly applicable to oncology I'm very proud of what we've accomplished with kisqali. In the last year and a half, we've, we've more than doubled our sales, we're on track. And our ambition is to actually hit blockbuster status by the end of this year. And that would never have been possible if we didn't start to change the trajectory in the in the belief of what's the best medication for metastatic breast cancer patients. So anyway, this turnaround is very meaningful, not just for me, but for all the people at Novartis who have had a history on kisqali and have been waiting to see its success.
Taren: Congratulations on the turnaround. That is tremendous work. And, you know, you talk about measuring metrics on so many different levels that people play, certainly. And then of course, the sale. So a well done to you in the last 18 months of making this drug have a comeback? If you will, you know, you lead one of the market, excuse me, you lead one of Novartis as major commercial franchises, does this provide you with any additional pressure to perform?
Christy: Yes, and that's actually why I took the role for me from a professional development perspective, it's, this was my opportunity to work on a strategic ly important or prioritize product and portfolio for the organization. So I came into this opportunity appreciating that while I've had many I've worked on many different kinds of products in the organization hadn't necessarily worked on one that was, you know, going to help really cement and grow the stock price, and therefore our ability to reinvest in development in other parts of the organization. So it's, it absolutely does come with additional pressure and additional exposure. And there's good and bad to both of those. But I think it's, it's awesome, because it also gives, it's not just about me and getting exposure, but it's really highlighting the possibilities of the team that we have, and showcasing their talents, because I just happen to be the leader in the in the spokesperson for our team, but they're the ones who are getting the job done. And they are an incredible team of people.
Taren: How many people do you have amongst your teams.
Christy: So what's what's interesting is now that's changed, we've the way we are working at Novartis has changed as part of our transforming for growth initiatives. So we used to be that I would I had several 100 people directly reporting into me, now we are more of a networked leadership model. So my direct reports are not that many, but my indirect influence is many. So I'd say across the functions of what we call customer engagement, which is our field facing model, medical market access, which includes field facing reimbursement specialists and market access in patient services. We feel facing members there as well, that helped with onboarding and for product like kisqali, where we where we need to solve and make it simple for EKG monitoring for the first few weeks of treatment, etc. So there's a marketing can't forget marketing. So and we work with global as well. So there's still hundreds of people that are just dispersed in a different way, which means communication is fundamentally important. And so your question to around pressure, that's something that I think cannot be underestimated in a Matrix Model. Or even in managing pressure is, is this err on the side of communicating in every direction, frequently, and clearly and with one voice because the more we can, we can help others understand what to expect. What we are seeing, and what we're doing the the less, quote, pressure than comes down, because you're creating a sense of comfort by helping whether it be the board, the Executive Committee, your peers, your team, know where we're going, why we think this is where we're going, what they can expect, and what the plan is. And that just really cuts down on churn and keeps people externally oriented and externally motivated, which is again, why we've all come into this business is because we truly want to make a difference for patients and every single person on our team has, has a personal experience, not necessary with breast cancer, but but cancer has affected their life. So it's very personal for them. So our ability to be externally focused or not internally focused is fundamentally important.
Taren: Wonderful, thank you. You noted that. Obviously, Novartis has such a strong history and reputation in the ecology field, what excites you about this area of oncology? And particularly anything in the pipeline that just got too jazzed up?
Christy: Yeah. So. So I think what is so exciting about oncology, and when I think even just specifically about breast cancer is, is, where it's been and where it's going. So I look at it in two dimensions. For people who are just recently diagnosed. There are there already are new innovations, but there are many more in the works to help people get as close to cure, or to be cancer free for as long as possible. And, you know, hopefully, for example, even with kisqali, I know it's been in the news. So it's, it's publicly disclosed with the with the Natalie trial read out, and you know, fingers crossed, we'll get FDA approval next year, and we'll be able to help twice as many patients, there's twice as many patients living with HR positive her to negative early breast cancer than there are with metastatic breast cancer. So just the opportunity to help those patients be cancer free for as long as possible to live to have more life, for longer is is exciting. At the same time. There's, there's the unfortunate reality that you know, cancer is smart, and it changes. And so even when you have a patient who's getting the best cancer care, least with today's medicines, they will likely progress at some point. And so they need options. And so that's what's exciting about kisqali for the metastatic breast cancer space, and why we're so passionate about scalli in its profile is because of its overall survival and quality of life benefit. But But again, people will progress eventually. And so seeing going to things like ASCO, which just transpired in June and seeing that there's continued new innovations with new types of technologies that can help people who progress through first line treatment in metastatic they need other options to live longer. And they need other options to live well. Because the other thing is, chemo is always an option. But chemo also causes a lot of toxicity. So how do we find a better balance of drugs that that are efficacious and keep people alive, while also giving them the best quality of life so they can actually live the life they are seeking to prolong and so, so far, again, we have we have a product called pic ray that is actually intended for second line use for people who have a specific mutation called the pic three ca mutation. We also are setting other medications, and there's combinations in the work. So I'm curious and excited to see what else is possible because there's a need on both ends of the spectrum. We've made a lot of progress. But there's a lot more that can be done. I'd also say outside of the actual scientific innovations. We we haven't as a community and oncology community, as an organization, we play a big role in this as well, as part of that oncology community, we have more work to do on equitable cancer care, let me put it that way, it's still very much a reality that non white, as well as people living in rural communities, as well as people living with disabilities do not get the same levels of screening, diagnosis or mortality outcomes as people who live in urban areas who are who do not have disabilities, or who are white. And so there is a lot that we need to affect to have more equitable outcomes, irrespective of your, of who you are and where you happen to live.
Taren: Absolutely. And I'm glad you are putting a lens on that because it is such an important issue. And it's just become, I think, since COVID, it's really come to light and far more focus, that the work that needs to be done. When you're obviously a very accomplished leader, how would you describe yourself as a leader and what are some of the leadership lessons you've learned along the way?
Christy: Sure. So so I'll actually tell you some things. So first of all, how do I describe myself in terms of my strengths? I would say one, probably one of my biggest strengths is that I'm very authentic type of person. And a lot of people tell me that I'm inspiring and I think a lot of this is rooted again, in my backgrounds, being being a scientist having practiced pharmacy As a pharmacist and interacting with patients and seeing, you know, their needs, seeing their fears, just the the realities of that. And also being a parent, I have two kids, they have disabilities, they are they are people with disabilities, I should say, and chronic conditions. So I've experienced the healthcare ecosystem, as a participant myself, in many ways that I would hope I would not. But I it, there's a reality to that, that I embrace and accept. And I think that brings a level of empathy when it's thinking about the patient. And how do we always keep the patient first, and in everything that we are doing, and that, that we're rooted in truly understanding the patient as a person, we talk about patients often and this amorphous term patient, but there are actually people and there are people who have families or people who have goals, they, they have communities. So I think I have a unique way of tapping into my experiences, including, you know, obviously, as a business leader, but not that's not my only area that has happened to to inspire people, and to just show up in a way that is open and creates a lot of trust with the teams that I work in, work in and within. The second thing is, I've been told from previous leaders that they see me as a pragmatic visionary, I can see what's possible, I can create aspirations and ambitions, that that are bold. At the same time, I know what practically and pragmatically has to happen to realize those ambitions. So they're not rooted in blindness, I guess, I would say, but, but okay, what do we tangibly need to do, because I have the operational experience to understand what has to be done and galvanizing a team behind getting the job done so that we can realize that vision. And then the third thing, which is probably the thing I'm well, between, between being authentic, and this, I'd say, is probably what I'm most proud of as a strength which is a coach. I've been told by many people, peers, team members, leaders, that I'm just a really good coach, I ask a lot of questions. And I listen. And that's something that I pride myself in whether it be to understand the business, but more so to help people. You know, be be better at what they are doing, or what they're seeking to do in terms of they're realizing their potential. So I am, I enjoy coaching, I think people are the linchpin of any organization, and of our society. So how, how do we help unleash the power of our people?
Taren: I love that unleash the power of our people. And when you say coaching, that sounds a lot to me, like mentoring, has there been anybody in your career? Who is been an influential mentor or coach that you can point to?
Christy: Yes. And then I also realized, Taren, I did not answer your question on my biggest leadership lesson. So maybe, maybe I'll go back to that. And then because that will also link I think, a little bit to like the mentor aspects of this, if that's alright with you, how does that sound? So So I have, I have three, three leadership lessons that I always keep top of minds. In one, the first one is that kindness does not equal weakness. And I say that because I have a very different style than probably the historical Novartis leader had, again, told you one of my strengths is being inspiring and authentic. And just being a real person like being me. And that facilitates trust, and openness, which are fundamentally important. But this doesn't mean that you can't also get business results, have high expectations and hold people accountable. So that's what I mean when I say, kindness does not equal weakness. My second leadership lesson is the power of one gets you nowhere. And I think the faster people realize that whatever level they're at, that you as an individual can only make so much impact. You're only focused on your expertise or achievements. Your contributions will be finite, it's how you work across people, how you create coalition's that make, make bigger, moments in change possible that that power of one all only gets you so far, and not you can't get you can't bend the curve of life as one human being let's put it that way. And then my last one is, is one that really drives me nuts. That's why That's why I was thinking about this with the leadership lesson and wanted to say it is the day is us. And if I think about my own growth journey I hear at Novartis it's, it's easy to when I was younger in my career, I always would be like, well, they are doing this and they're doing that. And they is like who's the they, they, you know, in my mind was oh, senior management and somebody at ECN. But the reality is, is that at every level, that organization, you have power, and it's, it's your opportunity and your invitation to step in that power to be the change that you want to see if you think something could be better. You know, you are the veg B the day they is us.
Taren: I love those three. And now we're going to talk about your coach, your mentor. Yes, those are three really powerful lessons. So thank you for sharing those.
Christy: Yeah, no. Thank you, Taren. Um, thanks for letting me go back to them. Because? So let me answer your questions around the mentor. So actually, I have two mentors. And they're both men actually. One is Victor volto. So he's the current president for the U for the US innovative medicines organization at Novartis. And I have, I've had the opportunity to work with Victor for several years in several different capacities as a, as a member, as a member of his team, but also, as appear on the executive committee when he was involved previously. And what I appreciate really appreciate about Victor is that he also sees mentorship as a two way street, like he's always seeking to also learn from the mentees that he's with and, and seeks feedback and is, like, genuinely listens to that feedback as well. For me, what he really pushed me to do was to, was to really embrace my situation, as as a parent, and as a mom, with two kids with disabilities. And he, he advised me, you know, was I really, was I really stepping in and using that experience? In its fullest? And it was an invitation to say, was I it that was a way I interpreted that, although it wasn't said was, you know, are you playing it safe, basically. Because there is, there is some stigma and shame associated with disability. And I will tell you, I think that everybody assumes myself included, historically that, you know, everybody in leadership is perfect, and they don't have, you know, big problems and, and so that I couldn't be, I think part of me thought I, if I shared this openly that it would, it would affect me negatively, and I would be more pitied than necessarily looked at as this being a place of strength where I could come from, so I, I've really grown in working. Like I said, I've worked with Victor. But even when I wasn't working for him in oncology, when I first started, we always stayed connected. And he helped counsel me and I can tell you that I, I feel like for sure, his feedback, that's the part that most resonated and stuck with me, has really transformed the type of leader that I am, and that my comfort level with even having a conversation like we're having today, or being the executive sponsor, for our capable employee resource group. Those are things I'm not sure I would have ever seen myself doing or thought possible, if I hadn't, if you hadn't challenged me in that way. And that's what I appreciated, appreciate about him as a mentor is he support you, but he also challenges you where he thinks you can, you can achieve even more. And then my second mentor, this was another job that was really interesting is for Bruce Shiraki. So he he was the president of the US for Novartis. He's now CEO at cellularity. And he, he taught me what it's like how the importance of being an enterprise leader, what the importance of that is, if you are in an executive level position, you can't just think about your function, your people what you're responsible for, you need to be thinking about the broader organization and have the capability to know when is the time to step into your individual leadership and when is the time you need to do the right thing for bigger impact and the importance of enterprise stewardship. The second thing he really instilled in me is to think about the impact that you want to leave. It's not about goes back a little bit to the power of one it's not about you. It's about what how you're galvanized Using your organization to make lasting impact, and what will you say once you left your role that you how you left it in a better place and how you look patients, how you left the organization and how you left people in a better place than when you came in. So those are lessons. And why I value them, I guess, as mentors, they helped me just see a different perspective about myself and, and what's possible.
Taren: Christy, thank you for sharing those two really important stories, there are a lot of lessons that can be mind in there for everybody who's listening, and your willingness to be vulnerable around your children. And what that means instead of taking it as a, from a place of power. Really very, very, very moving. Thank you so much for sharing that. And it's very personal. And thank you for sharing that about your family. It's not easy, you know, you're juggling a huge career, you've got a complex family life, how do you manage it all? What are some of the hacks you have? If you have any at all, to figuring it all out? I think we always talk about women and having it all in balance of work life. And I think that there's really no such thing. It's but so how do you manage it?
Christy: Yeah, and maybe, Taren I'll start with saying, I don't try to manage it all, because it's not possible. And it's appreciating, like, what I think first of all, like, where can you can you add the most value and what is going to what gives you energy and what doesn't give you energy, and where you want to spend your time, you know, relatedly to because of the value, or what's important to you. So I think about different different parts of my life. And the different phases, what was a priority and how I did that. So So for example, it was important to me, when my kids were in elementary school, my daughter's is now in middle school, but last year was her fifth grade, she was in fifth grade. And it was important to me that I be the class parent. Now, if anybody has been a class parents on this on this, you know, it's like, hey, in the middle of the day, you need to be running the class party going on field trips, etc. And I but I wanted that opportunity because I knew once she went to middle school, I would that wouldn't exist anymore. And I really wanted her to remember that I wanted to see what her day in her life was like and also give her a memorable and her and her friends a memorable last year in fifth grade. So I prioritize is that alright, I'm gonna, I'm definitely going to do these events are going to take off those days, worked my calendar around, it takes an exquisite amount of planning. But that's that's I think important too, is like really knowing like and planning for these things. So that you are when you're doing it, you're actually in it, I did not want to be in a situation right where I'm on field day, and I'm on calls or checking my email. That's, that's not being present. So just the the execution in the discipline of planning cannot be under rated. But the second thing is like around that just again, using the this class parent as an example is it's not it doesn't have to be perfect. I was not the class mom who went in like baked everything. I was the class mom who went and bought everything. And that was totally fine. You know what kids don't care, they just want to party. And they want some very simple things. I borrowed ideas from other parents on activities, I asked the teachers to help me because also this was a special education classroom. So that adds another dimension of not necessarily knowing what's the best activities or what people can and can't do. So just being open to help I think is also important. You don't have to have all the answers. It's like everything else in our professional life. The same is true here. So again, I think it's around just knowing where you want to be where you want to put your energy, what you're willing not to do, right? So I'm not willing, I don't need to cook all the food. I don't I don't need a fancy party. Because it comes back to like, what's what's this all about? And, and so that to me is I think about the same thing professionally as well. It's okay, I built one of the other most important I would say Hacks is like, who is surrounding you? And how are you leveraging their capacity and capability? Another huge lesson I've had is who are you hiring if you bring like the best talent in, they are capable and they're and you're not. I'm also not afraid to hire like I want to hire people who I think are better than me. And one day I'll be working for them because that's what we need in the organization and they have the capacity and the curiosity to drive things forward. You they don't need you to be micromanaging them and that enables you to spend time in different ways whether it be that you You know, want to participate in your kids a field trips or field day, or you want to create the capacity to do work above and beyond your role. And that makes that makes that capacity to have conversations like I'm having today to be the capable executive sponsor to start a PharmD fellowship program. For commercial for pipeline talent like this. It's also like I said, seeing seeing where you can create more value and making sure you're using the team that you've built, because they are valuable, and they are capable, highly capable without you.
Taren: Wonderful, I thank you so much. And I love those. The extrapolation from those lessons from the classroom to the boardroom, perfect, thank you. What's the one thing that most people don't know about? You? Let's get a little personal for a second and a half. Sure.
Christy: Um, so I'd say okay, most people in case you didn't even know I had red hair. So that's something you know about me. But um, so in the summertime, some, some people have actually commented on this, like, Oh, you have a tattoo. So I do I have a tattoo, the best part about it is that they think it's a cherry I'm like, it's not a cherry, it's, it's on my wrist. So it's visualized, it's on the inside of my wrist. It's a simple line tattoo. And it's a wave and a son together. And that's why when it's on the side, it kind of looks like a cherry with a stem on it. So it's not intended to be a duality of any type. It's just intended to be a wave in the sun. And they really signify I love I get a lot of energy from being outside being near the ocean, or any body of water really, actually live. Now, during COVID, we moved on to a lake. So that's because the waters, just magical to be honest, in the sun, and the warmth of the sun. It's again, also very energizing, and gives you perspective of nature's of force. And we're, we're, we are small things in the grand scheme of nature, we're trying to make impact, like I said, back to bending the curve of life, but there's a much bigger life forces, even than just us. And I think the sun in the water are great examples of enduring forces.
Taren: I love that. Thank you, you rebel you. I love it. I'm so sorry that our time is coming to a close. So I'm going to ask you our final question. And what is that wow moment that either changed the trajectory of your career, or has left a lasting impression on you?
Christy: Yeah, so I'd say there's my wow moment. There, it's It's come a little bit full circle. So they're both related to actually town halls that I was involved in the first town hall was when I decided to be really open. And tell my story. So we had a campaign at that time round at Novartis, we, you know, it's personal. And I got up in front of the entire organization and told the story of my children, particularly their epilepsy, and how many seizures, how many minutes of our lives have been consumed by uncontrolled epilepsy, and the near death experiences, unfortunately, that my husband and I have faced with our kids. And that, that was extremely raw for me to tell that story, but I almost viewed it, like as a coming out of of myself, because there was, I had been hiding part of that, that part of my life, because I felt like I had to, from from a, even my manager at the time was like, You shouldn't really talk about this at all effects. She was she was well intended, so don't get me wrong. But she implied that by having having this in my life, you know, to kids with with epilepsy and disability, that it would affect my career, and how I would be perceived in terms of my performance and future potential. So for me to tell my story openly and embrace my full self and appreciate that, that that experience makes me relatable both to people that I work with to the teams I'm going to be leading and to the patients that I'm serving, they might not have epilepsy, but like I said, I know what it's like to live in this healthcare system to advocate. And I know I am privileged in and unique because of, of my upbringing, my education level, the position, my financial standing, even my spouse what he does for a living. So I there was a power in that moment is what I'm trying to say. And it was very emotional for me. And then I come full circle to just a few weeks ago when we did a celebration internally for the Natalie trial readout and thanking all the people who have who have made that happen as well as the current performance for kisqali and to be acknowledged With with like a standing ovation by so many people, and to see the direct connection to the impact on life. I mean, I told you that's my personal mission is to bend the curve of life and to actually see that materializing. I mean, I was like crying to be honest in the audience, I was humbled, I was embarrassed. But I felt oh my god, I've, I've done what I've said, I want to do and to see to see that actually realized, and through some really difficult times, because as I mentioned, as well Novartis was going through a transformation that also affected me personally. So to be able to make an impact of that magnitude for people for life to bend the curve of life, despite all my own personal emotional baggage. And that of our teams was like coming full circle, it was incredibly rewarding and warming. So those, as I say, my wow moments, when the beginning where I opened up and unleashed myself and my potential and to see it come full circle to make the impact on the people that I work with, and the people that I serve in the breast cancer community. I couldn't imagine anything better.
Taren: Christy, thank you so much for sharing that very personal story I have, I have goosebumps, I, I can't imagine what it was like for you to be on that stage and have that just that feeling of, Wow, this is this is really my moment, and to be able to embrace your whole self and bring it to work. Good for Victor for bringing it out in you. What a great mentor. He was been to you. And that's just tremendous. Thank you for sharing that with us. What a story.
Christy: Thank you. I think, I think like I said, I think that's part of who I am. I'm just a person, I think we all have the same goals. I I think it's a privilege, to be honest, to be at a leadership level that where you can where you need both intellect, but you need hearts, and authenticity, to make the real impact that's needed. And, and unleash again, this all me about to me about empowering people, we have amazing people, how are we leveraging them to get the most impact for patients and for the business?
Taren: Thank you for that, you know, I neglected to ask you one of my questions. So we're not going to end with our Well, I'm gonna go back. I didn't ask you this. And I want to because I think it's so important. What are some of the goals you have for 2023? I know you talked about kisqali. And, you know, that turnaround and moving the franchise in a great new positive direction. What else is on your plate?
Christy: Yes. So for sure, that's important, both on the medics metastatic side, and even then I would say, yeah, we've had, we have made great progress with kisqali in the metastatic breast cancer space. But I would say we have more to do, especially in that community setting, the setting that I was talking about earlier, where people, you know, takes longer to know what the science is. And there's more habits and inertia, just given the amount of burden on offices, given the amount of types of patients that they're treating. So in my mind, we also need to do better in that community setting across, you know, rural, like I said, urban, and the different types of patients as well. So I see that as a key goal to improve our penetration and growth specifically in that setting, even though we are doing well. You know, on a broad and national level, also, say preparing for early breast cancer. So again, fingers crossed, hoping we have an FDA approval in the near term. And what are we doing to make sure we really understand that space? How are patients different, how is their diagnosis and treatment journey? I'm unique and similar and also unique to the metastatic breast cancer space. That to me, is a huge opportunity. There's even more patients, like I mentioned previously, double the number of patients. So it's really incumbent on us to make sure we are well prepared to help those patients and engage and activate them as well. And then I'd say back to equity, we've we have launched a campaign specifically focused on African American patients to increase screening and diagnosis. And we're trying to make that even more tangible and more grassroots oriented so that we're affecting more African American communities and that they resonate more with those people in the like in the broader and more rural areas, not just in city center. So I'm excited to see how that campaign materializes and the results that we get from it that we can learn from and then make better for 2024. That's that's the breast cancer goals, I would say as the executive sponsor of K but also that is our employee resource group for people living with disabilities, but we tent we try. That's why we call it capable, because this is not about what people cannot do love it about what they can do. So there we've made some very specific goals around awareness, including self identification, because we can't, if people don't self identify with a disability, we don't really know, the employee base that we need to be serving better. So we have some assumptions based on who's self identified. But we really want to grow self identification, we want to grow, engagement and sense of community. So specifically, in the neurodiverse area, we've created several roundtables and get togethers if you will, to there's a real sense a need, if you will, for community. So we have a we have a plan to activate that as well. And then then the third pillar is really around hiring and development of persons with disabilities being intentional around our hiring practices, being intentional around managerial training, and how do we help both an individual and a manager have a conversation, somebody has a disability, the manager likely won't know what to do. So how do we create an actual training program for people who have the disability to activate that conversation, and for the manager to be ready and know what to do in that conversation itself. And then lastly, on a personal side, I will not in this year without opening a foundation. That's, that's one of my my personal goals. So I know I spoke a little bit touched on a little bit about my children. But my daughter, in addition to having epilepsy, because of her epilepsy, we're in a clinical trial. So I've really run the gamut of different types of experiences here. And we found out that because we're in that clinical trial, that she has a rare genetic mutation. And so it's, it's ultra rare, actually. So I would like to set up a foundation for this genetic mutation, which is called KMT, five B. Because there's a there's a bunch of people worldwide. And we need, we need to start funding some research to characterize better what this mutation can cause in terms of long term prognosis, and how it can be treated and bringing parents and children together who have this mutation, to actually help the clinical cause as well. And there is no foundation that exists today. So that is one of my goals before the year closes.
Taren: Christie, what an amazing thing you're going to do. I look forward to that foundation. And if there's anything I can do to help you with you just pick up the phone and call me. I want to thank you for a fabulous conversation. And I want to wish you can continue to great success with both the professional and most importantly, your personal journey. Thank you so much for being part of our wild podcast program.
Christy: Thank you so much, Taren, for giving me this space to use as a platform to also be the voice for people who who need a voice right for the patients that we're serving. For people who are looking for more life. See that as my, like I said, my personal vision, and I very much appreciate you giving me the space to do it. Thank you.