Ruchika, R&D (Consumer Healthcare), India
Ruchika is based in Gurgaon, India. She is our NPD Team Lead & Principal Scientist for Family Nutrition. Prior to that she worked for over eight years in Sensory & Product Understanding for GSK Nutrition & Digestive Health category and over 4 years at FritoLay-PepsiCo Seasoning & Flavour development. She’s a happily married mother of two – a people person who loves music and food and has a real passion for gender equality.
How did you get into science?
I have been extremely curious and inquisitive since childhood with a scientific aptitude, taking great interest in all small and big lab experiments to anatomy drawings and even computer coding. As an academic pursuit, Science was a default choice.
After completing my Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Life Sciences along with a Diploma in Web Centric Computing, I was keen to continue my studies in Biotechnology. Despite being offered multiple places, I got attracted to Food Technology, a relatively new field in India 15 years ago. It brought together aspects of Basic Sciences, Agriculture, Process Engineering, Statistics, Microbiology and Modern Analytical Techniques amongst others and I decided to go for that instead.
It was a great decision, as immediately after I completed my Masters degree I landed a role in PepsiCo R&D and later in GSK R&D.
What do you enjoy most about your role and working at GSK more generally?
During my time at GSK I have had the chance to be close to our consumers in so much depth - giving me an opportunity to understand their psychology, their motivations and basic human values.
Bringing those experiences into the lab and translating them into scientific guidance for product development has been so thrilling. When those translated learnings culminated into nutritionally superior products well-accepted and loved by the consumers, it’s so gratifying. I have not only grown as a professional but also as a person!
You are really passionate about gender equality, how have you been able to act on that at GSK?
Throughout my life I have been supported and championed by men in my personal life, my father, brother, husband and father-in-law, and professionally, through my managers and colleagues. Their support has been extremely instrumental in my journey. At the same time, I have come across women from different sectors of my life who had struggled due to lack of support or indifference of men in their lives.
I realised that I wanted to make a difference. I became aware of our employee resource group, Women’s Leadership Initiative, and was one of the first one to raise my hands to participate. The chapter I operate from in India has healthy participation from men who can be great role models and supporters.
What more can we do to make sure we have gender balance?
I strongly feel two challenges need focus, one is upfront and the other is underlying. Men need to understand that women and the world around them is changing rapidly. The old standard and past burden of women handling homes and careers will need to be partnered equally to make it a level playing ground.
Also, in general women receive a lot of advice on work/life balance with positive intent but on the other hand this also puts the onus of creating that balance back in the women’s court. This approach may need to be rectified. If working men balance their life better, the life of working women will also improve and then both will flourish.
What advice would you give for women wanting to get into science?
A few qualities are very critical for all who want to get into science: stay inquisitive and keep learning and growing, read the lines - and also read between the lines, connect the dots to understand patterns, accept novelty and continuous change and balance short term gains with long term vision. Passion, patience and perseverance are the building blocks.
You may also like
From bench to bedside: lessons in converting science into impact
Pauline Williams, Head of Global Health R&D, shares a unique perspective on what it takes to research new treatments and deliver them to patients around the world.
We need more women in science to create the inclusive technologies of the future
Nidhi Aggarwal, Global Packaging Development Manager, Consumer Healthcare, tells how she reached her current role and explains why we need more diversity of thought in science and applied fields.