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Cortex - Life Sciences Insights

| 5 minutes read

Inspirational Women in Life Sciences Series - an interview with Lyndsey Hudson

In the second of our Cortex series on Inspirational Women in Life Sciences, we are proud to feature DLA Piper’s very own Dr Lyndsey Hudson, Head of Strategic Delivery.  Lyndsey joined the firm in 2021 and heads up the firm’s commercial strategy in the Life Sciences sector.  Her doctoral training in infectious disease epidemiology and extensive experience in strategic consulting gives her a unique perspective on the opportunities and challenges our clients face and is invaluable in driving our sector-led approach.  In this interview, Lyndsey talks about the importance of making one’s voice heard in the workplace, and the exciting opportunities that healthtech presents, to work towards greater healthcare equity in the coming years.

  • Tell us about your journey into your current role – what challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them? 

I have an academic background in life sciences (eight years from BSc to MSc then PhD, the latter from Imperial College London where my thesis focused on infectious disease epidemiology), and while I knew that an academic career was probably not for me as I came to the end of my PhD, my passion for life sciences was - and still is - very much there, so it was natural for me to have stayed connected to the sector ever since. I spent nine years in life sciences strategy consulting post-PhD, starting out at a couple of boutique firms focused on pricing and market access and competitive intelligence, then moving into a Big 4 firm where I became a commercial strategy expert for novel pharmaceuticals, with a particular focus on oncology, infectious diseases and cell and gene therapies for rare diseases. As a Director, I led our life sciences strategy team, and was part of the wider leadership team for over 100 strategy consultants across 5+ sectors. As a big supporter of women in the workplace, I was also a leader of the fantastic SheCan committee and a member of the Future Female Talent programme at my firm. I then moved to DLA Piper to try something a little different and support and grow the firm’s sector-led mindset. I’m thoroughly enjoying myself!

I think the biggest challenges I’ve faced is (1) being heard, and (2) staying true to myself. Reflection on (1), there have been numerous times in my career where I have communicated a thought or idea and it has been attributed or credited to someone else, or I have been talked over at in-person meetings, while I’m mid-point. I’ve learnt that in those instances you just have to stand your ground and make it very clear that you are bringing a particular value to the table, not that other person, or that you have not quite finished what you were saying! There are of course many ways to do this, some much more appropriate in the workplace than others, but over time you learn the art of cleverly navigating these frustrating situations with the right language and tone, to assert your position while staying professional. Never be afraid to speak up and get your point across. In terms of (2), this is an important message. It’s about bringing your whole self to work and that being accepted as a valid way to think, work and to lead, even if it differs from the “traditional” style. You may come across naysayers in your career, but if you’re seeing signs that your way works (i.e., you have a critical mass of people who believe in you and love how you work), stick with it. This is absolutely crucial to enjoying what you do! There is no binary system of how to “be” / not to “be” at work.

  • What is your favourite thing about your job?

The diversity of the work – project types and clients – but also the people! I know those are two favourite things, but they are linked. I think having the right people around you is extremely important for you to enjoy any role: friendly, curious and respectful people who lean into the teamwork. The greater the diversity of projects I am involved in and clients I work with, the more people I engage with, which brings a diversity of thought into the mix which simply makes my role more enjoyable.

  • What exciting developments are you looking forward to in your field over the next 5-10 years?

Tech, tech, tech! My colleagues know that I harp on about the power of tech in life sciences, but it's going to be truly transformational if we harness it in the right ways. Not only is healthtech itself, full of exciting possibilities across the value chain (and by that, I mean back office and front office, from supply chain through to patient), but the associated legal considerations are myriad and will be sure to keep my fee-earning colleagues busy in the years to come. In 5-10 years’ time we should see the experiences of all stakeholders in the life sciences ecosystem – but most importantly healthcare professionals and patients – starkly improved through the intelligent use of data and technology. Above all, my hope is that in 5-10 years’ time we will have moved significantly closer to healthcare equity, thanks to data and technology.

  • What advice would you give to women thinking of pursuing a career in the life sciences sector?

Life sciences is a fantastic sector, it arguably has the strongest purpose of all – to make peoples’ lives healthier. And because we’re in the business of caring for peoples’ health, there is so much diversity in terms of the businesses you can work for but also the products and services you can help bring to the people who need them. I think we’re lucky in that a lot of women work in the life sciences sector – 48% to be exact - so you will be far from alone! I have also had the privilege of working with a lot of great men who are extremely supportive of more women working in this industry.

The challenge is women making it to senior positions, which fortunately and unfortunately at the same time, is the case across most sectors. 31% of women hold leadership positions in life sciences. But I would say, don’t be deterred! Find yourself a mentor – they can be in your company, elsewhere in the sector, or beyond – who understands your world and will always be on hand to give you the feedback, advice and support you need. They’re invaluable and a good mentor relationship is a win-win. It’s a good idea to have a role model too, though I believe a mentor is much more important (and your mentor can also be your role model!). A role model is someone you can look to as a good example of what you want to be “when you grow up”. A sign that you are in the right workplace, is that you have at least one of these above you. If not, no fear, carve yourself the space, as long as you remain passionate about the company’s vision and purpose and have a mentor to guide you along the way.

DISCLAIMER: Lyndsey is speaking in her personal capacity and not as a representative of DLA Piper. 

Find yourself a mentor that understands your world and will always be on hand to give you the feedback, advice and support you need. They’re invaluable and a good mentor relationship is a win-win.