Jessica Federer, chief digital officer at pharmaceutical and chemical giant Bayer, says there has “never been a better time” to be a woman working in the technology field.
Federer, one of the most high profile women in digital in her industry, tells Forbes that adult women and younger girls wanting to work with tech should go for their dreams because of the clear opportunities on offer.
“Go for it, now!” she says. “If you want to be able to make a difference for people around the world, this is the place to be. It’s the time of the tech nerd, so join us.”
Prior to joining Bayer, Federer was a program analyst at the US Department of Health and Human Services, helping to facilitate a nationwide discussion on a variety of pressing healthcare topics.
She then worked in regulatory affairs, market advocacy and access at Bayer before taking on the role of CDO earlier this year. She has a Master’s Degree from Yale School of Public Health.
Love Of Smart Information
“Epidemiology [measurement and control of disease] and biostatistics are cornerstones of public health, so I love data and technology as a way to understand, and ultimately improve, public health,” she explains.
Federer, who describes her interests as “all about using technology to turn data into actionable information for public health”, is busily working to make sure Bayer’s experts draw on multiple sources of benefit, including digital technology, for their discoveries.
One of her many strands of work is enabling smart tech startups to collaborate with the company. The Grants4Apps accelerator program at Bayer provides funding, space, and mentorship to start-ups.
Analytics is vital in the development of medicines, she says, so technical skills are highly valued. “If you’ve ever wondered about how one of your medicines was made, it requires around 10 years of research, over €1 billion ($1.2 billion) investment, and an incredible amount of technology and analytics.”
Tech As A Means To Real World Success
Federer says working in tech offers its own challenges, primarily that in spite of data, “we still need to remember the context”. Only than can meaningful decisions be made.
“Another challenge is ensuring that technology fits with the way people actually live. Habits trump technology – so we need to make sure that brilliant technology fits into people’s lives.”
Ultimately, she says, patient and professional relationships are what matter. “Even though we are working with advanced technology, maintaining a digital relationship that helps people requires the same, if not more, effort.”
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