As the new Program Director of NLSDays, I am fortunate to be given a platform to address important issues within our life science community. In this medium, I would first like to introduce myself and a bit about how I arrived.
I dreamt of global entrepreneurship, believing business would be my conduit to positively impacting the world. I envisioned a strong, intelligent woman with a sharp business suit, briefcase in-hand. A bit Melanie Griffith in Working Girl, but I was a child of the 80s, after all. Then I watched my grandmother’s decline with lung cancer, volunteering at the hospital during her treatments. Simultaneously, thousands across Africa were dying in the mid-90s Ebola outbreaks. I wanted to help them too, thus diving into the study of haemorrhagic fevers. These two experiences led me to choose a white coat over a suit. I worked for patients facing acute and chronic liver disease. Next to those surviving and fighting horrific diseases, sometimes losing the battle, I was in awe. It was a job I felt born to do, to hold their hands across all finish lines.
“My days were spent in conversation with brilliant minds across the Nordics and Europe”
In 2009, I relocated to Oslo and discovered that my clinical training hadn’t translated as easily as my native tongue. Enter the gap in which I became teacher, café manager, and advertising salesman – the latter, in particular, by far the roughest. Advertising, if you have ever tried it, can really shank the ego. Often perceived as the lowest rung on the totem pole, it is a true uphill battle, and, if you allow it, will strip you of creativity. When I swallowed the difficulties, I gave myself the chance to learn patience, networking, industry infrastructure, and politics.
My days were spent in conversation with brilliant minds across the Nordics and Europe: governmental and organisational leaders, entrepreneurs, developers, all of whom expressed inspirations, creations, and needs. In return, I sought ways I could support.
I joined NLSDays in 2013, passing a stage upon which stood the CEO of a Linköping start-up. His pitch wasn’t perfect, but his delivery was. I was inspired. So, in true American fashion, I approached and suggested he hire me. To say he was sceptical is an understatement; he probably considered running. Over time, though, he took a chance on an American mom in Norway. His colleagues might have thought he’d gone nuts. Together, our small team began to wade in the thick, black bog between creation and commercialization. As the first to pave our path, the founders had pushed the boundaries of development in our field. Exciting, yes, but coupled with the burden of educating the global community and selling our credibility. So, one half of us buried in data and clinical evidence, as the other lived on the road, painstakingly knocking on stakeholder doors across financial, technological, and therapeutic domains. Ultimately, we breached those barriers, but one of our greatest skills was our ability to remain inspired.
“Our industry, as much as any other, succeeds by stepping outside the known and choosing the unusual”
I tell you all this, because I believe my story highlights broader themes applicable to us all. Our industry, as much as any other, succeeds by stepping outside the known and choosing the unusual. More partnerships, models, and tools are available to us now than ever before, but the cross-industry playground that now exists requires us to be agile and unafraid. Likewise, we must accept that today’s era is no longer a knowledge age, but a learning one. We are but lifelong students and, as such, must balance our tasks by looking up, raising our hands, and asking a lot of questions. Lastly, I believe that business is never just business – it is always personal, both with whom we work and for whom we create.
You likely dreamt – and hopefully still do – of success tied to societal value. In my current role, in both words and actions, I will join you in chasing that impact by addressing our industry needs and challenging our modus operandi. In my experience, some challenges make success more likely. The trick is staying inspired.
By Chelsea Ranger, PA, MHs, NLSDays Program Director, SwedenBIO Strategy Developer, EHiN CEO, C. Ranger Consulting
Photo: Camille Sonally