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Cortex - Life Sciences Insights

| 2 minutes read

Inspirational Women in Life Sciences: Elena Coluccelli-Guerin, bridging finance and life sciences

In the fast-evolving landscape of life sciences, individuals like Elena Coluccelli Guerin, Co-Head of the Healthcare and Life Sciences sector at Rothschild and Co., are sources of inspiration. 

In this recent interview, Marion Abecassis (Senior Associate in Life Sciences, DLA Piper Paris) had the pleasure of delving into Elena's remarkable journey and insights.

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

“At the beginning, I needed to learn and to understand sciences

Elena's career began in M&A/investment banking two decades ago, where she transitioned from generalist to specialize in life sciences. Despite lacking a scientific background initially, Elena's curiosity and dedication enabled her to navigate the field successfully. She found the ever-evolving nature of life sciences fascinating, driving her to continually expand her knowledge and network within the industry.

2.     What is your favourite thing about your job?

 “At my modest level, I have a feeling of contributing a little to an overall industry that drives progress

When asked about her favourite aspect of her job, Elena emphasized her enduring curiosity and the dynamic nature of life sciences. She highlighted the people she works with, noting their passion and excitement, which fuels her own enthusiasm for the industry. Additionally, Elena finds purpose in her work, feeling that she contributes to advancing progress in healthcare through her role in corporate finance.

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

What we are seeing more and more is artificial intelligence bringing even more innovation […] But at the same time, I wonder, you know, how all those things will coexist with human beings

 Looking ahead, Elena sees artificial intelligence and digital innovation as key developments shaping the industry in the coming years. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, she anticipates artificial intelligence playing a larger role in areas such as clinical trials and healthcare delivery, albeit with considerations for maintaining a human-centric approach in the science of life.

4.     What advice would you give to women and girls thinking of pursuing a career in the life sciences sector?

“The proportion of women in any sector/industry is approximately 48% on average at entry; but this falls to 28% at top level. In the healthcare/life sciences sector, women make up 75% at entry level (likely because women are curious and tend towards roles which feature a care element); but this drops to 32% at top level. This equates to an attrition rate almost double that of other sectors”. 

In addressing the underrepresentation of women in leadership roles within life sciences, Elena referenced a survey indicating a higher attrition rate for women at senior levels. She emphasized the importance of maintaining purpose and ambition throughout one's career path, encouraging women to stay connected to what initially drew them to the industry.

5.     Are there any other insights you’d like to share?

“My advice to girls: Be as ambitious as men and remember why you chose and wanted to go into the industry. Keep hold of that enthusiasm, sense of purpose and motivation towards innovation”. 

In conclusion, Elena stressed the importance of remaining motivated and purpose-driven in navigating challenges both in terms of career and personal life. She expressed optimism for the future, citing the increasing embrace of digital tools and artificial intelligence as potential facilitators of work-life balance and continued innovation in the field.

For those interested in pursuing careers in life sciences, Elena's insights offer valuable guidance and encouragement. Her journey exemplifies the diverse pathways and opportunities available in the industry including at the intersect with finance, inspiring future generations of women in not only life sciences but STEM more broadly.