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Powered By Our People – August 2015

Powered By Our People – August 2015

August 31, 2015 0 Comments
Vanita Gupta

Hi Vanita! What do you do at inVentiv Health PR?

I work across different accounts including BioMarin, Baxalta Oncology, and Ventana/Roche Tissue Diagnostics and help out the Sunovian, Depomed and Gamma Medica teams on projects. I have been involved in various new business work on the west coast and across the network, providing deep dives and lending my scientific insights to the strategy. On the side I have been working on building a Scientific Communications team leveraging the amazing network of ex-academic scientists we have.

What led you on the path you’re on today?

My path was definitely not linear. After my PhD, I completed two post-doctoral fellowships before I decided academia was not for me. I decided to try to marry my amateur artistic skills with my science and desire to be a “MadMan” and worked in medical advertising on Madison Avenue. But then my significant other (now husband) was relocating to Los Angeles for work….so I decided to take a leap and move away from New York for the first time in my life. I pursued an MBA in Pharmaceutical Marketing at the same time I began working in healthcare communications. Between the two I found my sweetspot of science, business and scientific education. I love telling stories with science, providing context to provide a more complete picture and helping people achieve a basic level of scientific literacy to critically evaluate information.

If you never had to work again, what would you want to do?

Open a small scale farm to table family style restaurant where people can learn about gardening, nutrition and crafting meals as well as share a meal and conversation. I would also volunteer for a non-profit organization putting my science and communications skills to use.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

I have never been physically strong or coordinated. I joined a CrossFit Gym, terrified and unable to lift even the lightest of weights or even jump rope. Three months later I discovered I was pregnant. I was lucky to be working alongside and trained by the most amazing coaches – including the number two and three winners of the individual women’s division of the CrossFit games in 2013 – and their strength and determination inspired me. I continued to work out 5 days a week throughout my entire pregnancy, with my last workout the day before I delivered. Six months later I participated in the CrossFit open and achieved my first double unders (jumping rope where the rope passes under your feet twice in one jump), a personal record of a 185 pound deadlift and a 20 inch box jump. To most CrossFitters, these are basic skills, but for me this was a huge accomplishment and proved that I can accomplish that which seems impossible to me as long as I set my mind to it and practice.

What’s your favorite YouTube video?

The Muppets rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody

What’s your go to karaoke song? (come on, we know you have one).

Sweet Child O’Mine

What’s something you make or do really well?

I am an avid vegetarian cook and have transferred my laboratory skills to the kitchen. I cook as much as possible and you will find my kitchen full of laboratory equipment. On the side I craft vegetarian, dairy-free, soy-free, gluten- free whole food recipes and blog about it. Except for vegetarianism, I do not adhere to this diet, but people are searching different ways to increase protein in their diet without soy, wheat gluten or meat and there are very few recipes out there for vegetarians. I find that, a lot like science in the lab or healthcare communications, limitations spark my creativity.

Favorite place you’ve been to?

This is a very hard one – I love to travel around the world. One of the places on the top of my list was Wadi Rum– a protected desert in Jordan. I stayed with a Bedouin tribe inside of Wadi Rum in tents where we slept under a clear view of the milky way and an enormous amount of shooting stars, played music and sang all night, cooked food by digging holes deep in the sand or on top of fire built from rocks and dry bush, and scrambled up a rocky mountain side to stand on the border overlooking Iran and Syria.

What was the first job you’ve ever had?

I worked as a photographer’s assistant spending a lot of time in the dark room developing film, printing contact sheets and pictures. I fueled my love of independent work and research and eventually led me to a career in laboratory research.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Slow walkers in NYC which translated to slow drivers in LA.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.

What is one of your favorite quotes?

The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order. – Alfred North Whitehead

What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

Camped on the bank of the Ganges River in India for one month during the Maha Kumbha Mela in 2001, an event that occurs every 144 years and drew about 60 million people from around the world.

      Steve Nelson

So Steve, what led you on the path you’re on today?

In my interview with Robin Pomeranz, Jennine Avino, and Jamie Calabro more than four years ago, I happened to be wearing a shirt with my initials—S.T.N.—mongrammed onto the two sleeves, and this was probably the only time in my life, for whatever reason, that I wore a mongrammed shirt, but if you asked Robin why she hired me she would immediately mention this ridiculous shirt of mine. In all seriousness, I have a B.A. in English, a B.S. in Psychology, and an MFA in creative writing, and the work of User Experience mapping and Information Architecture draws upon expertise in thinking how people perceive and react to information on a website. So, mostly, I try to think about what a person would like to experience on one of our sites, or what we want them to experience, and we tailor our designs to execute that vision.

What do you do at inVentiv Health PR?

I’m a Producer. What does that mean? The job of a producer is to get things done, whatever the task may be on any given day of the week. Mostly, for me personally, this means running the digital work within inVentiv’s Creative Studio, including account management, project management, user experience mapping, information architecture, copywriting/editing. People often wonder what the difference is between the inVentiv Digital group and our Creative Studio, and the easiest way to think of the difference is that the Digital team leads strategy and social media efforts, while our Creative team executes wireframes, design, development, and launch of all web properties within inVentiv’s commercial division. I also do some business development in between projects.

If you never had to work again, what would you want to do?

I would write/read in the mornings and work on my brother-in-law’s oyster farm in the afternoons. And, given an unlimited budget, I would play Texas Hold ‘Em Poker every night of the week.

What’s your greatest accomplishment?

Even though we are only two years and four months into the game, I would say my greatest accomplish is raising my daughter (I know, I know, such a predictable response, but, look—people with kids, I know you’re with me on this—it’s tough, it’s exhausting, it’s wonderful).

What’s something you make or do really well?

It has taken me more than seven years to complete it, but I have been working on a novel called District of Camelot about local politics in Washington, D.C. and I like to think that I’m a strong, clear writer. I can also beat you at foosball.

What’s your most prized possession?

Tons of old books, but let’s go with my 2000 beater silver Jeep Cherokee. Coming up on a 175,000 miles and going strong.

What’s your favorite YouTube video?

Old Aerosmith, vintage Alicia Silverstone.

What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

On a lovely, if uneventful trip to visit friends who were living in Kigali, Rwanda at the time, we drove into the African countryside to stay at a resort near the Rwanda/Congolese border, which was politically stable at the time, and our friend—who had totally planned it this way all along—casually suggested over our first dinner at the hotel that, the next day, he had arranged for passage across the border into the Democratic Republic of Congo if we were up for it. It would take more space than I have here to explain what happened when we crossed the border, what we saw, and how we were able to get out, but we were there in the Congo for about twenty-four hours and made it out safe and alive, with a newfound respect for stability of government and of laws, et cetera.

What was the first job you’ve ever had?

I was a sailing instructor for several years in high school/college. I also worked briefly on the 2010 U.S. Census covering Chinatown in New York City. That was crazy, man. Some folks had like 200 people living in a single studio apartment, renting out individual tiles on the floor. I love New York: it’s totally insane. I should also clarify that this is the longest I have ever worked in one place, more than four years now, and that’s testament to the variety of opportunities we have here. Whatever you can think of that will help your team, or your clients, you can just go for it. That’s not really the case in too many other places.

What would you do with a million dollars?

I would throw a single black-tie party, with a very small number of guests, with helicoptors, one gorilla, and plenty of champagne.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?

Every time I eat at Chipotle, and maybe this is just me, but my heart, like, races, and I wonder if I’m about to die, but when that feeling’s over, and the euphoria settles in. . .well, you know: they’ve got you.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Write every day. Have dinner with friends at least once a week. Never start a land war in Asia.

What’s your go to karaoke song? (come on, we know you have one).

Without hesitation, Meatloaf’s “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That).”

What is one of your favorite quotes?

Nike’s tagline: Just Do It.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Wasting time. Too much going on to waste even a few minutes of the day.

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