December 13, 2023

Excel in Your Career as a Working Mom with Michelle Kinder

I'm Melissa
I'm a Career and Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech. I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.
Know what is most important to you in your career as well as what changes you need to make. Melissa guides you step by step with this proven framework she uses with her clients.
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On today’s podcast I am joined by my client Michelle Kinder. Michelle is Director of Translational Oncology. In the time that Michelle and I worked together she has gone through massive change.  She figured out her ideal role, moved into it, grew her leadership skills and created the work/life integration she wanted as a woman with a successful career and family she adores.

She is sharing her career path and advice for navigating your career as a woman in Pharma/Biotech as well as her experience in Coaching.

*Michelle’s views on this episode do not reflect the company she works for. These are her personal insights based on her experience and expertise in the Pharma/Biotech space and in her experience as my Coaching client.

What you’ll learn:

  • Michelle’s career journey from academia to leadership within Pharma/Biotech
  • How Coaching helped Michelle get the career she wanted and uplevel her skills as a leader
  • A misconception about Coaching and what surprised her about the results she achieved
  • How Michelle is able to excel as a leader and volunteer as her son’s Soccer Coach
  • What you need to do if you want to make a big pivot to a new Department or from Medical, Pharmacy or other industries into Pharma/Biotech

Mentioned in this episode:

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Welcome to Your Worthy Career, a podcast with me, Melissa Lawrence. I’m a career and life coach with all the corporate credit and talent development and organizational psychology. I help women like you get extraordinary results by being more you. Not less. I won’t just help you have a career experience worthy of you, but I will help you build your self-worth to shift what you think is possible and take the action that will create the career you’ve always wanted, whether it’s more meaningful work you’re passionate about, making more money, getting to your next level, or being more effective as a leader. We are shattering the glass ceiling here, the one that exists for women at work and the one we put on ourselves with our doubt and inner critic. Each week, you will get practical teachings grounded in neuroscience and effective career development strategies. You’ll experience deep mindset shifts and the perfect amount of woo, so you can run your career with ease rather than your career running you. You were born for more, and I’m going to help you get there with maybe a few dance parties along the way. Your up-level begins now.

Melissa Lawrence (01:16)

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of the podcast. This week I have Michelle Kinder on the podcast with me. Michelle is a leader in the translational sciences space in oncology. She’s also been my client for about two years. Now, when she started working with me, she initially wanted to figure out what was that next best career move for her. And when she achieved that and saw the results that she was getting in coaching, she renewed and we continued to coach and expand what she could achieve and work on hire new goals for her as she continued coaching from leadership development and transitioning into her new role, being a thought leader that was standing out as the best and being a great colleague and asset to her team, as well as navigating challenges of being a working mom and having a family and wanting to have time for her family and also be able to Excel at work and feel like she was really excelling in both spaces. And so she has achieved all of her goals or exceeded them, and her career and life looks very different now, and I thought that it would be a great story for you to hear. I can’t wait for you to hear her experience. She has so much wisdom to share from her experience in the industry. She also runs a women and pharma careers group that she talks about. This is just going to be such a beneficial episode for you all. So many great takeaways. Now, before we get started. I just want to mention that Michelle’s views on this podcast episode don’t reflect the company that she works for. So these are her personal insights based on her experience and expertise in the pharma biotech space and her experience as my coaching client. Let’s go ahead and dive in.

Melissa Lawrence (03:07)

Hi, Michelle. I’m so happy to have you on the podcast today.

Michelle Kinder (03:11)

Well, thank you so much for having me.

Melissa Lawrence (03:13)

So as we get started in our conversation, I’d love it if you could just share a little bit about who you are, what you do, and your background, so everyone listening gets a good idea of who they’re listening to.

Michelle Kinder (03:24)

My name is Michelle Kinder. I’m a translational science lead in immuno-oncology. I have a PhD in immunology. I’m from the Philadelphia area. I have my… Went to Penn State, then U Penn, got Pennsylvania represented. I guess personally, I have a son and very involved with his soccer, lacrosse, basketball, et cetera. So trying to balance a lot.

Melissa Lawrence (03:54)

Can you share a little bit about your expertise as far as how you got into this field and a little bit more about your career journey?

Michelle Kinder (04:02)

Yeah. I’ve always been very interested in medicine, but unsure where I fit in. At first, I applied for MD, PhD because I thought, well, I’ll just do both. I was always interested in oncology. But then I guess some point realized I don’t like sick people. I think it’s very challenging mentally, emotionally. I’ve focused more on my PhD. So I have a PhD in immunology, and I’ve always was interested in how do you use the immune system to fight cancer. I’ll say too, very early on, my grandmother had lung cancer when I was in high school. And that also influenced me to want to look for new ways of fighting cancer. So it’s very much part of my focus early on in the mission against cancer. And so I’ve worked in multiple different roles within pharma. I’ll say I was in my postdoc and my husband got a position for residency because he was in medical school back in Philadelphia. I was in St. Louis at the time. So I knew I had to leave my postdoc and look for a position. And at that point, I decided I was going to focus on an industry position and got a postdoc in industry.

Michelle Kinder (05:33)

And then from there, I worked in a biologics group. So this is more focused on platform, developing a platform, therapeutic. And then I moved into in oncology discovery. So discovering new targets and taking them through the funnel of target identification to the lead. But then I gradually moved a little bit more closer to the clinic and really wanted to bring those, I guess, bring those therapies into the clinic. So I moved into translational sciences. And it took me some time. I started off doing supporting it preclinically and then trying to work my way into doing that in clinical biomarkers. So I was in clinical biomarkers for some time and then decided that COVID hit. And I think when COVID hit, I rethought a lot of things and wanted to make a change and ended up in a position in medical affairs. And in medical affairs, I was mostly focused on communication of science and supporting a drug that we were hoping to launch. So it’s a very different experience than working in discovery and platform research and translational sciences. But that’s where I was when I first reached out to Melissa in terms of coaching.

Melissa Lawrence (07:11)

I like how you just set that up so perfectly. I’m not just like, wait, into talking about coaching. But I think everyone listening could hear that and hear how successful you were before we even started coaching. I think that’s something that is a misconception a little bit, which maybe we’ll talk about later around why people reach out for coaching, is they may think they have something they need to fix or that there’s something wrong with them as opposed to having a problem that they just want to solve or that they want to get more clarity on. Let’s talk about what it was like before we started coaching and how you were thinking and feeling about your career that made you want to reach out and get some help.

Michelle Kinder (07:53)

Yeah, I think where I was in my career was that I was happy with what I was doing and who I was working with, but I just felt like there was something missing and I couldn’t figure out why and what and what was the next step forward for me. So I just wanted to get some clarity on what are the next steps for me and not just keep turning wheels in my head and spinning my own wheels, not knowing what to do. Sorry, it wasn’t that I wasn’t performing. That was not the question. It was more myself, myself internally, but what am I supposed to do next? What is missing and how do I move forward?

Melissa Lawrence (08:34)

I remember part of the challenge you had was just how much you liked working for your boss and working for someone that you respect and that you enjoy working with is very different from someone that you struggle with. Because you had had some of that experience in the past as we all have, it made it even more difficult to decide, do I even want to explore what else I want to do or if I want to move this department because you have this luxury of a great boss.

Michelle Kinder (09:05)

Yeah, I was very comfortable. I was comfortable with my manager. I love her. I still have a fantastic relationship with her. I was very comfortable with my colleagues. I loved interacting with them. They made me feel valued, which is important. But I still felt like there is something missing. And in reaching out and working with you and working through all the exercises we did, what was really clear was I was missing being able to use my technical expertise. And while I was communicating data all the time, I wanted to generate my data myself. So It hank I threw conversations with you and through the exercises we did just gained more confidence in moving into a different direction with my career. And then it was a hard step to do because when you’re comfortable, you don’t want to make yourself uncomfortable. So having to work through that to ultimately get to where I am now where a lot of pieces are aligned for me.

Melissa Lawrence (10:13)

And had you worked with a coach before?

Michelle Kinder (10:17)

I had not worked with a coach. I say obviously because I think it’s very common to have therapists in your life and work through different mental health challenges. I wasn’t sure, of course, the role of a coach as compared to the role of maybe a therapist in my life or what the exact role was. I think it did take me a little bit of time. I think you’ve mentioned this too to me, Melissa, just being able to be comfortable and to be more open. I think I was maybe a little guarded in the beginning, and I guess I was concerned about being judged or how I was feeling. I think it’s always been hard to open and maybe be honest about my feeling, seeing myself.

Melissa Lawrence (11:11)

Yeah, I think that’s actually a really good point because in the workplace and even in our personal life, I mean, just our whole lives, we’re all being judged by our parents and our caretakers and everyone in our life, in school, in college, at work, we’re getting rated. We’re constantly being judged. Of course, it’s going to take some time and some testing out to see like, Is this really a safe space for me? Because that’s where a lot of the growth really happens, is by having that space to really process what you’re thinking and feeling and what really the problem is. We don’t just keep putting Band-Aid solutions on things.

Michelle Kinder (11:46)

Yeah, absolutely. And then somebody that I don’t know, the people at Gleezer, and I try to be really careful what I say, especially in working environments, because I’m just curious how people are perceiving things. I think in the beginning, I would try to work cautiously and try to gage your reaction a little bit. And it wasn’t until I think a few sections are started to get more into a groove.

Melissa Lawrence (12:11)


Melissa Lawrence (12:12)

Would you say you are judging me then? To see if I was judging you?

Michelle Kinder (12:17)

What it? My favorite line from Ted Lasso is, be curious, not judgmental.

Melissa Lawrence (12:25)


Michelle Kinder (12:26)

I think I was curious of your reaction, curious of the situation we were in.

Melissa Lawrence (12:33)

That’s great. That’s what I say all the time, too, is if we can just apply our problems with curiosity, it really lets the ego fall to the side and you just get more of a problem-solution mindset as opposed to taking things personally and getting lost in the mind drama that we all go through.

Michelle Kinder (12:51)


Melissa Lawrence (12:52)

So other than the safety piece or feeling comfortable or really wanting to see the value in the role of a coach versus mentors or therapists or other roles, and you’re like, Did you have any other concerns about working with me. Before we started?

Michelle Kinder (13:10)

No, I was in a place where I definitely felt curiosity. I felt like I needed someone to help shepherd me through my own mind. I think the only other thing that comes to mind was when I started telling people how I’m working with a career coach. They thought that the role of a career coach was only for people that had challenges at work and not necessarily for high performers. And so I think that’s a very, very common mis perception of the role a career coach can have. And I think that there’s, especially after working with you for so long, it’s such a value and being able to have an objective person that understands how the mind works, especially when having to deal with people either in a cross-functional environment or even direct reports or just wherever there’s this human interaction taking place, I think having a career coach can help make for more productive teams overall as well as help you become a more productive team member. So not only I think that you’ve helped in terms of understanding the future of where I should bring my career, but you’ve absolutely have helped me become a better team member and a better leader overall.

Melissa Lawrence (14:30)

Yeah. And I think that that is… I’m glad that you mentioned that because sometimes people will reach out and they’ll be surprised that I don’t offer just an ad-hoc coaching session. I think what you said about the mindset piece, but also the trust and the other points that you made just speak to that so well because that’s what I explain to them also is the type of coaching that I do, of course, I could just give you advice or consult with you, but that’s not really coaching and that’s not really doing the deeper work that people really want to have. They just don’t see it yet because they’re just looking for that quick fix solution and don’t want to invest in a long term commitment when it comes to coaching.

Michelle Kinder (15:12)

Yeah, I think what surprises me the most is the mind work. I guess I’ll give a couple of examples of that. One was when we did the 360 review and we were talking about it. Immediately, my mind goes all to the negative things. And then you were like, Michelle, really listen to this podcast that I had already listened to six months before. But you’re like, listen to it. And as I listen to it again, it was like you were talking to me in that new moment that, okay, you have negative feedback. Think about how could this be true for me? And that just blew my mind that you predicted how my mind would work. And it’s not just my mind, it’s everyone’s mind that falls this way. So I just find it just so fascinating. You knew that I would react because I’m predictable in terms of the human mind. And then some of the other things we’ve done, like the mindset model, I remember having to break it down, like telling you you have to like, okay, let’s just go through it again just one more time. And once we went through it so many times, I can now use that model to help me understand my feelings and how that leads to certain actions and how even I can try on different feelings and thoughts to become more positive.

Michelle Kinder (16:44)

Butall of that work and all of that work and all the tools have taken time to be able to truly understand and to ingrain. And what’s crazy is I have access to these tools, but it’s like you have to continue to train your mind and remind yourself of these things because your mind just goes back to being human nature. So I think having that continued interaction was super, deeper helpful for me. And I hear your voice sometimes, the deep… But I’m having a thought like, I have the free time, there’s a problem. And I knew you were going to say, because you didn’t email, like why is having a free time? I’m like, Well, I’m questioning myself like, Why am I thinking this way? I don’t know. Is there a better thought I could have? I think there is definitely a value in continued interactions and being able to do the deep work to help set yourself up for better success, whatever that is.

Melissa Lawrence (17:49)

Yeah. You can liken it to reading a book, too. If you take any self-development book, you could read something and say, Oh, that sounds great, but you’re not really applying it and you’re not integrating it. You’re just putting it back on the shelf and moving on. Coaching really holds you accountable to implementing the changes that you want to see.

Michelle Kinder (18:07)


Melissa Lawrence (18:08)

How would you summarize? You’ve had so much growth personally and professionally in the time that we work together. How would you summarize that growth?

Michelle Kinder (18:19)

I definitely feel that I’m a lot more confident. I think, again, it has a lot to do with those continued interactions. I pushed myself to do things that I wasn’t necessarily sure about or I wouldn’t have done otherwise. And so I think now I have even more confidence and I don’t need someone else to help push or support me for it. I know how others view me and how to maintain and establish new relationships that will help with my team that I’m on. And in moving forward as well as my career, I have a very clear sense of what I want to do and how I can achieve it.

Melissa Lawrence (19:15)

Yeah. You also moved into a new role, right? Yes. You’ve increased your salary. You’ve had exceptional performance reviews. Yeah. All of the tangible things initially people say they want. Then what they talk about is the deeper change, because that is what really changes your life more than the external reward.

Michelle Kinder (19:35)

Yeah. Since we started, I think it was how many years ago now?

Melissa Lawrence (19:43)


Michelle Kinder (19:43)

I moved into a new role probably within six months, and then we continued to work together. I established relationships with a lot of my new colleagues. That was part of the 360 review that I did. I wanted to really, after being in a role for a little bit, get that feedback, which has helped me navigate some things. And in some cases, it’s like, oh, they appreciate when I step forward and step in and try to rectify things because I know that they appreciate that. I’m going to do a little bit more. And so then now I’m in a place where I feel like I can definitely mentor others that I’ve proven myself in my current role and that people can look to me for advice and expertise. Ultimately, in the future, I hope to continue expanding that as a functional leader in translational medicine.

Melissa Lawrence (20:44)

It’s a big accomplishment to move into a new department and demonstrate your thought leadership, to have people see you as a team member, and to have people on your side when you’re coming into a new space, especially coming in as a leader in that space with a peer, with other strong-minded leaders that you have to work with. You also have a lot of different personalities you have to navigate. In your role being global, you have colleagues from all over the world that you partner with also. So when you think about just the success you’ve created in this new role and the trajectory you have even moving forward, do you have any advice that you would offer to people that are maybe in a similar spot and want to be successful? Yeah.

Michelle Kinder (21:30)

Well, two things. I definitely think trust yourself, trust your instincts. I knew, even though I didn’t want to admit it maybe, that I need it and wanted to move back to translational sciences and I need to gain that confidence is when I reached out to Melissa. But I think there was some nugget in there that I just needed to let it out. So I think trusting yourself. And the other thing was, when I first moved into this role, I had to prove to myself I can still do this job. I did translational sciences before, and I hadn’t done it for two years. And I had to prove to myself first before I can prove to others. So I think maybe if I even trusted myself a little bit more, it would have been helpful. So I think that trusting the process and gaining that confidence over time is definitely a positive thing that I wish I could tell myself it’s okay. Just believe another Ted Lasso reference.

Melissa Lawrence (22:39)

Right. Yeah. My wife really loves Ted Lasso, too. It’s like she bought so many Ted Lasso things for Halloween. Just Sam, Bobby, Bat. So I get the references. What would you say then? I wanted to touch a second on work-life balance because I know that’s something we coached on quite a bit. And so many busy, successful moms with the family. I know guilt has come up a lot for you around stretching yourself between having the successful career and doing everything you want to do for your family and overworking like many women in the industry do. Can you talk a little bit about how your work-life balance has changed?

Michelle Kinder (23:21)

Yeah. I think that’s why also when I introduced myself, I introduced myself including my child in there. For me personally, I have the challenge that my husband is a physician. He works very long hours. He’s gone from 6:30 in the morning to 6:30 at night, which leaves me to do the majority of the shepherding to different activities and just maintaining the schedule. So what has been positive for me is letting go of a little bit of the guilt. I think I don’t travel very often, but I’ve made it a point, especially the last year and a half to travel to Europe to maintain relationships with my European colleagues. And same with my previous role is traveling within the US. And so I know that it’s been such a hardship on my family when I do travel, and I had so much guilt in regards to that. So it’s been ongoing with my husband on how he needs to manage it. But I realized that, and thanks to you, it’s okay to feel a little bit of guilt. I think when you had said that to me, it’s almost like a revelation. Okay, it’s okay. Just because I feel a little bit of guilt doesn’t mean I shouldn’t go.

Michelle Kinder (24:44)

I do a lot, and I’m going to miss this lacrosse game, and that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be because I feel guilty that I can’t do it. I think just overcoming that hurdle was very helpful to me. I think what’s also been amazing is that I have a lot more mental capacity almost now that my work seems to align. I’m happy with what I’m doing. I have enough time to be able to do what I need to do. I can work later if I need to. But just having that more mental capacity gave me more time to be able to volunteer with my son. And I think there is also this interest thing that we did in the very beginning where we talked about what my general interests are. And I came up that I love teaching and I love kids. And I remember you asking like, okay, is this a hobby ora curriculum, it’s like hobby. So when that opportunity came to coach soccer, manage lacrosse, or do after-school care science teaching, it was really a no-brainer. I knew I enjoy doing these things. So I’m going to say yes emphatically to that.

Michelle Kinder (26:05)

So I’ve been able to, through coaching, because I’ve gotten my career more in line, I’m not in any turmoil over what I’m doing at work. I can manage other people’s craziness with their kids through my son’s activities. And that has been so positive. My son wrote me a letter in the beginning of the school year, he had to write a letter to his hero. He wrote to me that I am his hero because I coach soccer and lacrosse and I support him. So it just developed my relationship with my son. And then also, even with my husband, instead of coming to him and complaining about work, I just did that with you, Melissa. But no, I was able to compartmentalize my questions around my career and the thinking mind work I had to do and not bring it home. I think that helped to balance overall in all aspects of my life, not just in my career.

Melissa Lawrence (27:12)

Yeah. I’m sure a lot of people can really relate to that because it bothers me when I see things on LinkedIn or just online that are like, Women can’t have it all. You have to choose career or you have to choose family. You have to do this or you have to do that. I think you’re such a good example of how you can define what that balance looks like for you and what your priorities are, and then you can create that for yourself. You have created this nice hybrid where you’re excelling in your career and doing really well, and you’re also the mom you want to be, and you’re able to give attention to your husband, and you’re able to even have your own hobbies sometimes. You had a trainer and you were doing other things. Of course, it’s going to ebb and flow. There’s going to be seasons where you’re going to be giving a little bit more to one or the other. But the message is really that you get to define it and be in control of what you’re giving your attention to.

Michelle Kinder (28:06)

Yeah. No, absolutely. I know even for myself and the way I’m working and what has worked for me thus far, I actually love working primarily with Europe. I have a lot of about half my colleagues, if not more, in Europe. So I have no problems going on those early calls so that I can take my son to reading, tutoring right after school on Mondays, things that so that I can accomplish both. So that means I’ll never do a remote job in California, then so be it. This is what’s working for me right now and what I need for my life.

Melissa Lawrence (28:45)

Yeah. That’s so empowering, too. I think that’s something I have to remind people a lot of it is like you’re making that decision. Even the way that you decided that I’m not going to take a position that’s going to require me to work at California time zone because it doesn’t allow me to meet these other needs that I have, as opposed to looking at it as like, I don’t have as many opportunities because I can’t go do this. Forgetting that what you’re choosing is more important to you than having a potential job span that goes into the Western hemisphere?

Michelle Kinder (29:19)

Yeah, absolutely. I have a two-career family. It may not sound like a lot like, Oh, there’s a lot of two-career families, but my husband’s in medicine. Not a lot of his colleagues are two-career families. So I think it requires a lot of communication between the two of us and what we are important for both of us and how we can continue to support each other to support both of our careers and our families. There is a challenge that’s inherent there at a pretty high level.

Melissa Lawrence (29:56)

How do you think that you approach your day-to-day different? Whether you talked a little bit about your personal life, you could dig more into that or just with work also, just how from going through coaching, when you’re experiencing problems at work, difficult colleagues, anything like that? How do you think you approach it now versus how you did before?

Michelle Kinder (30:20)

Now I have this smallest of voice in my head. If I know there’s a difficult conversation that’s coming up, maybe I would do a mindset model, like what are my thoughts? What are my feelings? What actions does it lead to? Maybe I can try on different thoughts to try to make sure I have the right mindset and moving into some of these meetings. I think that’s one very concrete example. The other thing is knowing, and as I said before, some of the feedback I’ve had from my 360s, what works, what my team values, I definitely have more confidence and it’s stepping into leadership positions when no one else volunteers. So I think before, it may have been, I don’t want to step on toes. I’m newer to the department, I’m newer to these teams. But now I know the team appreciate this. And then another thing is just focused on maintaining as well as continuing to build relationships as there’s turnover in teams or as people are given additional responsibilities, just trying to really put time and into those relationship building because it’ll pay off for the whole team in the end. Yeah.

Melissa Lawrence (31:38)

You have a good combination of the strategies that you can take with some of the more communication tools with the mindset model. You can really approach problems in a very empowering way where you have both angles that you can pull from and always have a path forward instead of maybe when we started some of the conversations we were having were just around the problems and not being able to see a path forward from those problems. Now there’s always a path forward. And even the way if you come back and listen to this, the way that you are responding to these questions and sharing your experience is from a very empowered place.

Michelle Kinder (32:20)

Right. Yeah. As we’re even talking and reminded about communication styles, then being aware of the person I’m communicating style that suits them and how I can communicate with them in a way that they also feel empowered too.

Melissa Lawrence (32:39)

Yeah, it’s been, I think, a lot of a big journey around advocacy too, like advocacy with your boss and managing up those relationships across other countries, across your immediate teams, whether it’s with your family, working from home, a hybrid work schedule. It’s just a lot of advocacy of like, What does Michelle want? What does Michelle need? And they’re like, What’s the solution to get there? And bringing people with you along the way because you have such amazing relationships with everyone, so you’re definitely not getting results by steamrolling people. I think that’s another great skill that you have is just that influence and communication and ability to bring people with you as you meet your goals.

Michelle Kinder (33:21)

Yeah. I think it’s so fun because now I’m now taking this role that I almost try to empower other people. I tell people, I refer them to you, but just in ways, I see people that are trying to manage a new team, or I see people taking on a different role, or they’re facing a challenge within our own team, and I’m able to approach them in a way like, how can I help you? I just serve as a cheerleader sometimes, or just someone to just listen. But I don’t know, I have so much compassion for people that I can feel empathy when I see people faced with similar challenges than I’ve been through. Yeah, sure.

Melissa Lawrence (34:16)

Are there any unexpected results? You talked about so many results that you’ve gotten through coaching. Is there anything that’s unexpected that you were surprised to achieve or didn’t know would be impacted?

Michelle Kinder (34:30)

I think, and I’ve already mentioned, I never expected to be able to even have time to coach. I just took on another coaching position. And I know my husband just thinks I’m crazy because he can’t imagine having the mental capacity to be able to take on an additional responsibility that’s volunteer like you’re volunteering. So that was completely unexpected and that I related to coaching, being able to do those things. It doesn’t seem like it’s really, but it absolutely is. And I think just improving relationships even at home, I think, has been positive because being able to mentalize a little bit helped me. And it’s funny because then I try to maybe coach my husband or others like, hey, if you try doing a mindset model, I’m like, what? Yeah. But as you said, the ad hoc doesn’t work. Leave it to the professionals.

Melissa Lawrence (35:33)

So what would you say to someone who maybe thinks that the results that you achieved, the goals that you met or exceeded, that they’re just maybe not possible for them?

Michelle Kinder (35:48)

I don’t think that we should be comparing people’s goals. I think success is always defined differently between different people. But I would definitely encourage you cannot just, and we’ve talked about this, manifest, just making a vision board and just hoping for something isn’t going to work. You actually have to put in the deep work, whether getting your mind to a place and also building the correct relationships in the correct way. So important, especially in our business, but likely in any business, in any work environment. A lot of people ask me, and this is maybe I’ll throw back on you, Melissa, because I do some work with Women in Pharma Careers, which is a blog that I started with my friend, Wendy, who we both work in the farmaceutical industry, and we have a lot of people that are trying to transition into the pharmaceutical industry. They come from maybe a pharmacy background or maybe a physician, and they want to transition into industry. Yeah. And then a lot of times we’re like, How do I even think about making such a big move? What advice would you have for people that are in that situation?

Melissa Lawrence (37:11)

I love how you turn this around on me, Michelle.

Michelle Kinder (37:14)

Yeah, I don’t know. I like to ask the question.

Melissa Lawrence (37:19)

So generally, foundationally, it’s very important to know what you want first. If you look at what… And I don’t think people get to granular enough level as to the problems they want to solve, the work they want to do, how it’s going to impact the area they want to get into, how they’re like… Let’s say they decide they do want to move into industry from pharmacy or something else. It’s like, how are your skills transferable? And are you doing that work to be able to sell that to a company? And are you doing the work to build relationships with people in the industry that you want to work in and having those conversations? It’s not going to happen sitting at home on your computer just thinking about what you want to do or tweaking your resume. It’s going to happen by doing that hard work of figuring out exactly what you want, how it’s transferable, and then building relationships in the industry.

Michelle Kinder (38:16)

Absolutely. 1,000 % agree. I’ve also moved into different roles within the pharmaceutical industry and changing departments. And every single time it’s the same, like building those relationships, understanding what you really want, what’s transferable, what you need to work on. And for people that aren’t in the industry yet and would like to join, I think this where informational interviews are so important. And there’s lots of different organizations that you could join to try to develop relationships with people that are in the industry. But regardless, whether you’re breaking into a new industry or just changing departments, I think those are, that you just outlined are absolutely foundational. Understanding yourself, understanding what skills you have, how they’re transferable, understanding the jobs, and how they relate to what you want, and building that network and relationship is so important.

Melissa Lawrence (39:18)

Yeah. I would add to it, like a couple of things that I think get in the way, whether you’re trying to get into industry or make a move within industry is we all have ego. We’re all very ego centric in the way that we think. That’s our brain’s job, right? Think about ourselves, protect ourselves. I think in this industry and then also in the medical industry, you have highly academic, high-achieving people. When you’re looking to make a move, say, from that area into pharma and it’s a somewhat different language, different culture, you have to—and this is probably where the mindset work really comes in too—is look at that perspective and not just your own, because sometimes people just get really stuck with, Well, I worked really hard. I have a PhD. I did all of these things I was supposed to do. You should want to hire me. Looking at it from the other perspective and getting that business case of why they should want to hire you in their words, like thinking about that audience as opposed to everything you’ve done and what you deserve. Then also, like I said, the granularity piece. People might know, I want to move into medical affairs, or I think I could go into translational in your space, but they don’t get detailed enough to really understand the work done in those spaces and how they can do that work.

Melissa Lawrence (40:45)

Then when they’re interviewing or having those conversations, they’re falling flat because people aren’t compelled. They’re not seeing how it’s really a great fit for them. They’re just seeing that this person wants a job.

Michelle Kinder (40:59)

Yeah, absolutely. And I think it just brings me back to when I interviewed for my medical affairs position coming from translational. I gave very concrete examples of what experience I had related exactly into US medical affairs. And although I ultimately decided to move back into translational, that I think of everything as education. That education I got in US medical affairs has allowed me to be a more effective translational science lead because I can communicate a lot more effectively with my medical team. I just always think about the experiences and the tools and bringing them forward with you no matter what you do, but being able to communicate that, especially in a job interview setting, is challenging unless you go deep.

Melissa Lawrence (41:53)

Yes. That’s great that you brought this up. I think everyone can take something away from that if they’re navigating the job market, either in or outside of industry. When I was talking about people not thinking results are possible, it’s more around, and I think that the way we talked about this answers that question also because people will sometimes tell me that they might hear your story and say, Well, Michelle worked, had some translational experience years before, and so that’s why she was able to get into this role. Or they might hear someone say, Well, this person moved from the bench to an office management role because they must have had an internal connection with the hiring manager. It’s just the way that our brain works that we come up with reasons why we can’t have what we want or why that’s not available to us. I did the same thing before I started my business. I had all the reasons why I couldn’t have my own business, and I wasn’t cut out for it. It’s just a way for us to stay where we are. Because when we’re thinking that way, what people aren’t doing and what I wasn’t doing is figuring out how to leave my job, like solving the problems that would allow me to get where I wanted to go, really exploring it.

Melissa Lawrence (43:05)

For other people, it’s hiring me as their coach or finding another solution that’s going to help them get to where they want to go. Instead, we stay stuck with why we can’t have it. I want people to really take away from this conversation. I think you did a good job through your storytelling that you can achieve whatever it is you want to achieve if you put in the work to figure out the solution. It really boils down to that.

Michelle Kinder (43:32)

That’s it. I love it.

Melissa Lawrence (43:36)

So is there a piece of advice that you wish that you had earlier in your career? I love asking people that come on the podcast this question.

Michelle Kinder (43:43)

No, there’s no lesson. No, I think I addressed that before. Just having more confidence in yourself and being able to trust yourself. Well, meet myself a little bit more. Honestly, too, I think when I first started in pharma, just in general, I used to be painfully shy. Let’s go back. I used to be very painfully shy. It was really hard for me even to make conversation with people. And then I gradually grew a little bit more outgoing. And then I think in pharma, when I first started, I was very afraid to speak up. I was very afraid to disagree with the manager. I didn’t really have a lot of relationships outside of just the people that were on my direct peers. And I think that has evolved over time, where I think what’s most valuable to me is the relationships with a much greater group of people that are in all different departments. And I see how that can help me and help them and help the team be able to best make decisions. I think I wish I was a little bit more maybe forgiving of myself. I think having Harrison, so having a kid made me maybe stop caring so much what people thought in some ways, it gave me a little bit more confidence.

Michelle Kinder (45:19)

Strangely, when you’re showing up to work with a little bit of baby vomit on your shirt, you can’t really care as much. I think maybe that gave me a little bit more confidence and helped me to break out of that shell a little bit. But I think that I would maybe encourage myself to have skip level meetings. I wish someone had told me that in the very beginning, knowing your manager’s manager is always important no matter what role you’re in and being able to develop relationships, not just with your direct manager and your peers, but more broadly, more holistically, because you never know. I actually moved from biology to where I was doing platform research to discovery because there was a re-org and somebody in the discovery organization really liked my work and reached out to me as an example. So you never know where that brings your career or how that can help just with team decision making, et cetera.

Melissa Lawrence (46:22)

Yeah, I had to learn that as well. At some point in your career, your hard work can get you where you want to go when you’re more junior. But as you grow in your career, your relationships become more important than what you’re producing. So it’s really important, as equally as important. So it’s important to work on those relationships. Is there anything else that you want to mention before we end today that we didn’t talk about?

Michelle Kinder (46:52)

I think that we generally hit everything. I know I mentioned Women in Pharma Carears, we definitely have a website and we’re on Facebook group. Probably haven’t written an article in the present future, but there’s still some discussion that we have on that group. So if anyone needed another outlet for women in pharma careers, feel free.

Melissa Lawrence (47:16)

Yeah, we’ll definitely link to that. Women in pharma careers, you have a Facebook group. There’s also a LinkedIn group, right?

Michelle Kinder (47:22)

There’s a LinkedIn.

Melissa Lawrence (47:23)

Group as well. Then you have the website. The group really is what its name. It’s the name, right? So it’s Women that Work in Pharma or Women That Want to be in Pharma. You’re here. And then you have some blog content around navigating your career in pharma. Is that right?

Michelle Kinder (47:39)

Absolutely, yeah. I mean, for a while, the most trending article before COVID was how to commute with an infant in your car for an hour. And then during COVID, I think it changed to mental or psychological safety or something. Something else. Okay. Yeah.

Melissa Lawrence (47:57)

Okay, we’ll definitely link to those so people can get connected. And then if it’s okay with you, I’ll also include your LinkedIn profile so people can connect with you on LinkedIn also. People, listeners might have some follow-up questions or just want to connect with you after hearing your story.

Michelle Kinder (48:12)

Great. Well, thank you so much. And thank you so much, Melissa, for the impact that you’ve made. I don’t think when I first reached out, I would ever think of being where I am right now in my career and I guess how happy I am in general with everything that’s going on. So thank you for the work that you do.

Melissa Lawrence (48:33)

Thank you. I’m so happy that you came on and were able to share your story.

Michelle Kinder (48:37)

Thank you.

Melissa Lawrence (48:38)

I’ll talk to you soon.

Melissa Lawrence (48:39)

The episode is over, but your next level is just beginning. If you’re ready to have the career that you really want, I invite you to schedule a coaching consultation to work with me where you will identify a career path to your next step, build your confidence to tackle any career challenge, make more money, and work in stress less with my proven process. Head over to to get started.

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No longer settles for “good enough”

Hi, I’m Melissa.

Career & Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech

I'm a former Talent & Development leader in Pharma/Biotech turned CEO and Certified Professional Career & Life Coach. I also host the podcast, Your Worthy Career.

I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.

I'm leading a movement of women in the industry who are figuring out exactly what they want and shattering the glass ceiling. The very real ceiling in the industry, but also the one that we impose on ourselves. 

So long, imposter syndrome and overthinking. It's time to step into the impact and life you're worthy of having.

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