Member Spotlight: Danielle Gabrish
Danielle Gabrish is the Director of Clinical Biologics at AstraZeneca and the Chair of the ISPE Women in Pharma® group for ISPE’s Chesapeake Bay Chapter. She’s also a mom, mentor, and advocate for women and Emerging Leaders.
Throughout her career, Danielle has demonstrated a deep understanding of the pharmaceutical industry and has been instrumental in ensuring the safety and effectiveness of products; but she prides herself on her acumen to mature and prioritize visions for site and global initiatives with a focus on supply chain capabilities, building plant capacity, and talent development.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Danielle and learn more about her ISPE journey, career experiences and leadership style. Throughout the interview, Danielle lasers in on what it’s like to be a woman in the pharmaceutical industry, and how we can evolve the industry’s culture to be more inclusive and innovative. She also dives into her leadership style, and what she thinks matters when managing a team.
Here’s what she had to say…
When and why did you get involved with ISPE?
My involvement with ISPE started when I worked in the validation field as a technical individual. It was a great forum for knowledge sharing across networks.
I was looking for technical content and opportunities to learn and keep up with industry standards that align across life sciences. As I progressed my career into leadership roles and eventually joined ISPE’s Women in Pharma, I’m finding more benefits for personal and professional growth.
How has ISPE helped you expand into leadership roles and grow both professionally and personally?
My first leadership role was in validation, and through ISPE, I gained a lot of exposure and education around validation to become a subject matter expert. I’ve since moved into innovation and strategy and people -leading, building high performing teams. I would say this association has given me the opportunity to share my leadership skills by being the chair of Women in Pharma, leaning into networking and relationship building, and opportunities to influence others.
You are currently the Woman in Pharma Committee Chair for the Chesapeake Bay Area. Can you tell us why you feel this initiative is important on both the local and international level? Any highlights?
I truly find myself believing in the mission and vision and I truly believe in the importance of maximizing the positive impact women can have within the global pharmaceutical network. I think networking and building relationships amongst groups of individuals that are open to diversity of thought will shape the future of big pharma on a strategic level.
I also recognize that a diverse team leads to a higher performing team. We need to expand on this, break the silos, learn from each other, take the wins, and share them. This will not only impact ISPE or Women in Pharma, but shift the culture of life sciences, big pharma, biotech, whatever we want to call it.
ISPE’s Women in Pharma also allows me to showcase my strengths, and it’s been so motivating seeing how far we've progressed in the year that I've served as Chair. The community outreach has been great; we’ve partnered with STEM for Her, and we’re getting into big pharma organizations right now, hosting tours, design workshops for other life sciences, all centered around knowledge sharing.
We’re also working hard to build mentorship opportunities specific to the Chesapeake Bay Chapter. Overall, we’ve seen a drastic increase in the local Women in Pharma group which highlights that we’re doing something right, right?
We're advertising who we are, we're motivating people to be part of this community, and delegating amongst the team different leadership opportunities to run some of the programs and initiatives that we've come up with. This gives them the opportunity to showcase their talents and skillsets, and there are lots of benefits to that. I would say that’s the greatest highlight for me -- seeing people grow in their own organizations is always a win for me.
As we continue to build the ISPE Women in Pharma program, how do you hope to grow the program? Originally, we were very focused on in-industry already, but to build your future, you should be focused on high schools and colleges. When I was younger, we had three career choices available: doctor, lawyer, or teacher. I would ask myself, is this really it?
Our Women in Pharma chapter is partnering with Emerging Leaders on several initiatives as we feel it overlaps and gives us that exposure. It goes back to my previous point about the importance of oversharing; the more people know, the easier it is for them to find the path that works for them.
I hope to maintain this forum that promotes diversity of thought. I hope to continue our community outreach efforts, including volunteering for STEM for Her through local high schools and colleges. I want to continue to work to diversify across that industry and I hope to create opportunities for career development based on skills people can gain through networking and knowledge sharing.
I would love to create a culture where we learn from each other, sharing tools and resources, where we talk openly about our biggest obstacles. The more we share and speak up, the more we help each other out. We’re on the right track.
As a woman in STEM, what is your advice to those looking to direct their path in this direction? What do you wish you would’ve known?
Take risks, speak up, but be yourself. Don’t get lost and molded based on what a job description tells you, you need to be. You can make that job fit who and what you are. I’ve learned throughout the years that we sometimes pretend to be something we are not in hopes of getting to the next level, because that's what this piece of paper tells us to do. But that's not true, be yourself and embrace the unknown. I think pushing yourself into uncomfortable areas is the only way to create growth.
I also believe in the importance of creating a network of support for yourself. I think you do that by building relationships with great mentors and great leaders, and by finding good coaches that will guide you through your personal or professional lives.
And I think the last thing I would’ve liked to have known is that failure is ok. You learn from it. Just don't stop, and don't settle for less than you deserve.
What advice do you for other women also in a leadership role?
Have a seat at the table. A lot of time women are labeled as emotional instead of empathetic. We’re labeled as aggressive instead of authoritative.
My greatest advice is to play on our strengths. Yes, we’re passionate but use that passion to stay curious and learn new things and continue to grow. We’re empathetic, so use that empathy to build a high performing team and build trust amongst your colleagues and your team. Staying firm and assertive doesn’t mean you are being over authoritative. We are intelligent creatures. We can observe silently, and I think that plays to our advantage.
Also, I've never had to put out someone's light to shine on my own. I believe we should all live by that; the more you can get out there and share and inspire, the more we can change the world for the better.
Are there any important events taking place in the Chesapeake Bay Chapter our members should know about? Any pertaining to Women in Pharma?
We recently kicked off a golf clinic and we were originally going to keep it to women only, since typically golf is thought of as very male driven. But instead, we decided to bring all people together, allowing this to be a networking opportunity for women and their allies. It was a great success and Women in Pharma will be hosting this every other month. If anyone is interested in attending, visit our website https://ispe.org/chesapeake-bay-area-chapter/events and LinkedIn page https://www.linkedin.com/company/ispe-chesapeake-bay-area-chapter for the upcoming dates.
What are you looking forward to most for the 2023 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo?
Meeting everyone! As I’ve mentioned, I like networking and building relationships. We get to meet ISPE members outside our local chapter, so it’s about expanding our networking and then building relationships. A lot of these relationships turn into personal ones where we even call each other for advice. I look forward to developing new relationships and strengthening existing ones.