Tell us who you are!
My name is Deshanie Rai. I am a scientist by training and I work at Bayer Healthcare supporting the US Medical Affairs function. Over the years, I have leveraged my technical leadership and scientific experiences to drive the development of new products that meet unique and differentiated consumer health needs. In this way, I significantly enhance the value of the organizations I support.Given my passion for science and desire to help people lead healthy lives through self- and prescribed-care, I was motivated to complete my PhD with a focus on how intravenous feeding influences the gastrointestinal and immunological functioning of preterm infants. I subsequently completed my post-doctoral fellowship in Molecular Biology and Endocrinology to understand how estrogen and their receptors work to mediate breast cancer. I have published my research in peer-reviewed journals and am a co-inventor on several patents. In fact, I still continue to publish today as I generate and support research in the corporate world.
I am committed to growing myself, professionally and personally. I am always looking for ways to learn and to take myself out of my comfort zone.
- I am currently Co-Chair of the Women-in-Science Affinity group within the Healthcare Businesswoman’s Association. Through this role, I have grown my network within the health and wellness industry, led and moderated events at pharmaceutical companies that address topics of important relevance to advancing the science as well as the professional development of scientists, and brought visibility and credibility to the organizations I support.
- I am also the Chair of the Vitamins and Minerals Research Section of the American Society of Nutrition. This is a scientific organization with more than 10,000 members. Herein, I work with a group of scientists, mainly from academia, and students, to identify and implement opportunities to advance the science on our understanding of vitamin and minerals, nutrients critical for our overall health. Through this role, I also help to develop and mentor fellow scientists.
- Along these lines, I am an active member of the Diversity and Inclusion team at Bayer Healthcare wherein I support Women’s Leadership Initiatives. For example, I have co-led programs to support the professional development of all Bayer employees. More recently, I was invited to serve as a Business Coach to a group of 8 Bayer employees participating in the peer-coaching program.
- Through these channels, I am able to grow myself and my network and equally importantly pay it forward and support the development of my colleagues.
Tell us more about your career steps and other projects you were part of!
I have had a fantastic career trajectory both in academia and industry. Through my involvement in a variety of different projects that impact human health, I have the opportunity to learn not
just new science but also familiarize myself with business models and business lingo, understand the stage gate process to translating science into products and moving the products to market. I have the opportunity to work as part of dynamic cross-functional teams and learn about different aspects of product commercialization, e.g. product formulation, product development, developing and implementing strategy, as well as the legal and regulatory aspects of product commecialization.
What does “Social Capital” mean to you?
A group or network of people who come together to willingly share their insights and perspectives so as to collectively create value and inspire change. In this way, this social capital helps that network or community to thrive and function effectively. This community will then do the same with another community such that we have a domino effect of developing people, at an individual but also eventually at a global level.
What makes you successful in life/current job?
Being a team player, actively listening to the needs of our patients and consumers and that of the organization. Willingness to go outside of my comfort zone and paying it forward. My network, my ambition, my attitude including perseverance.
What is/has been your biggest achievement professionally and personally?
I have received many accolades throughout my career: I received the Young Investigator Finalist Award from the American Clinical Nutrition Society; I was a two-time recipient of the President’s Award at Mead Johnson Nutrition; I was honored with the Tribute to Woman in Industry Award; and I have been an invited speaker at national and international meetings. My biggest achievement however was having the courage and motivation to find a way to leave my very tightly knit family, living in a small town in South Africa, to independently pursue my graduate education in the USA – a country I had never visited before and where I knew no one. This opportunity helped my personal and professional growth in leaps and bounds. It taught me the importance of a network and how to develop one.
What are your aspirations as a 1World Mentor for the 1World Social Capital Program?
Promote the growth and development of the mentees to help them carve out their own paths…I want to help them imagine the possibilities…
What can you offer your 1World Mentee?
My learnings, insights and perspectives that I have garnered throughout and that can be easily applied to any situation. My network, my attitude, my values as a human being and as a contributor to an organization.
What does your ideal 1World Mentee look like?
Someone willing to go outside their comfort zone. Someone who is willing to try to imagine the possibilities.
What are your aspirations for your 1World Mentee?
Realize their full potential, identify gaps and opportunities and help them carve out a path forward.
Do you believe there is a glass ceiling for young female professionals? If yes, how can we break it?
Yes…it’s still there today even though we live in the 21 st century. Continue to lean-in (as Sheryl Sandberg says), speak up louder and more often, perservere, don’t be afraid to be ambitious, don’t be afraid to stand out in the crowd.