Soaring Above Bias

How Courage and Support Have Propelled a Career

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, get to know Sejal Patel, Technical Service lead for Baxter UK and Ireland

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Sejal: I’ve been married for 19 years and have two children, a son and a daughter. I have spent nearly 20 years in pharmaceutical/medical device organisations in sales and commercial excellence roles. This is actually my second stint with Baxter. I worked here in 2014 for three years and returned in 2019. In January, I took on a new role as Baxter’s Technical Services (TS) lead for the UK and Ireland.

Q: How did you transition from sales to commercial excellence and now TS?

Sejal: It’s funny -- I received my degree in Applied Biological Sciences and a Higher National Degree in Biomedical Sciences, so I always imagined I’d work in a lab. It’s only because one of my university lecturers suggested I consider sales (I’m quite outgoing!) that I pursued a nontraditional path with my degree in the first place. I loved sales and saw commercial excellence as the ‘science’ of selling. I was really intrigued by the service component, which led me to the role I’m in today.

Q: What’s your favorite part of your current role?

Sejal: Being able to make a difference for our teams and our customers. I want to help build a culture that is based on transparency and collaboration. Because of my background, I have a unique perspective on the challenges and questions we’re facing – I can look at TS through the commercial lens, and vice versa, to challenge the status quo and hopefully benefit all.

Q: Tell us about your involvement with Baxter Women Leaders (BWL).

Sejal: To be honest, I never thought about being part of this kind of group before, but I’ve realised how important it is to help pave a pathway for others. When I took on the new TS role, one message from a colleague stuck with me: I had inspired her by pursuing this unexpected next step in my career. I don’t have an engineering background but am now leading a very technical team. This experience reminded me of the support I got from my mum growing up.

Q: You mentioned your childhood – how did your younger experiences influence you today?

Sejal: I was brought up by my mum from the age of 15. She taught me to fly high. She constantly told me to try everything, that I can do anything I put my mind to. When I didn’t want to leave home for university, she completed my applications – it wasn’t even a question, she knew what I could accomplish.

Today, I see history repeating itself with my daughter. I was not the typical “girly-girl” in school, and neither is my daughter – she plays football, and at 11-years-old knows she wants to be a child psychologist when she grows up. She can do it. And I can help inspire her to chase those dreams. 

Q: The 2022 International Women’s Day theme is “Break the Bias.” What does this mean to you?

Sejal: The world today is much different than it was just 10-15 years ago. Certain things that were acceptable then are not anymore – and we need to continue that trend. Women can no longer be quiet or content behind the scenes, and we must teach our children that they can do anything.

Q: Speaking of going back 15 years...if you could give your younger self advice, what would it be?

Sejal: To stand up for myself more. To have the courage to pursue different things. There are so many lessons that I wish I learned earlier on in life, and it’s taken a lot to truly believe in myself. Luckily, my husband has been my rock – while my mum taught me to fly, he’s certainly helped give me my wings.