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Claire Bonaci: You’re watching the Microsoft US Health and Life Sciences, Confessions of Health Geeks podcast, a show that offers Industry Insight from the health geeks and data freaks of the US health and life sciences industry team. This episode will be different today. I’ll be on the other side being interviewed as I reflect on my one year milestone here at Microsoft.
Andrea McGonigle: Hi, everyone. I’m Andrew McGonigle. I’m the National Managing Director for the health and life science industry experts team here at Microsoft. And today I’m taking over the podcast and interviewing our host of Confessions of a Health Geek, Claire Bonaci. I’m really excited that she’s celebrating her one year anniversary so I thought let’s get to know Claire and get some insights from her, after her year here at Microsoft. Welcome, Claire.
Claire Bonaci: Thanks so much, Andrea, it’s it’s very weird being on this side of it.
Andrea McGonigle: I think you’ll do great. Let’s start with, you know, we just said you were hitting your big milestone one year at Microsoft. You also came from a very large pharmaceutical company to come to our industry team. Can you talk about how you landed at Microsoft? And what was the driver that helped you make the change or jump from a pharmaceutical company to a technology company?
Claire Bonaci: Sure. So I was at Gilead Sciences in clinical operations, working on clinical trial design and execution for large global phase three oncology trials. And honestly, I just really hated how manual the processes were. I was there around four years, and within those four years, I really felt like there should have just been more progress from a technology side in the market or just industry as a whole. It wasn’t really a Gilead specific problem. It was more of a drug discovery or life science or pharma problem overall. And I felt very strongly that The advances in technology like AI and NLP and predictive analytics that I was seeing hospitals adopting could actually help alleviate some of the problems that I experienced in clinical trials, like slow recruitment or adverse event reporting and tracking and so much more like that. And being in Seattle, I’m obviously surrounded by very large technology firms who are jumping headfirst into healthcare. And I knew that I had something to offer and could really help them do that, and especially from a pharma or life science perspective. So that’s kind of when I began the journey that led me to Microsoft on your team of industry experts. And I’m just I’m so glad I found my way here. Then I have the opportunity now to actually help biotech companies with with those manual tasks that I hated and that I used to do and kind of make them a little bit more technologically savvy.
Andrea McGonigle: Yes, that’s good, great insight there. I also came from a pharmaceutical company. And I think part of that is, you want things to move fast. And you when you see this technology and you see the problem, you’re like, Hey, I can make it happen. I definitely feel like being part of technology company, with the experience that you have in the industry, can really help bring that together and create a vision for what companies can do and move. And as part of their digital transformation in the space, so great. What was your most surprising lesson after being here a year and everything that you learned about Microsoft and what you already know about life sciences?
Claire Bonaci: Yeah, so actually, I have three most important or biggest lessons I learned in that first year. So first, I was really surprised by how much value there was for fresh eyes and new perspectives. I kind of assumed that coming into a very large, well established company and a very well established team as well that I would kind of learned how things were done and kind of help where I could and just continue the status quo. But instead, from a very early point, I was I was always asked for my opinion on processes or how things could be improved or just even how I viewed things. And I wasn’t really expecting my opinion to be valued as as much especially as an outsider. So it really helped me realize that there were things that were just not set in stone here, processes really couldn’t be changed completely, new projects can be started. and new ideas were really more welcomed that I that I thought initially. Despite the size of the organization, any aspects were very agile still, which is a little shocking when you think about Microsoft, a huge organization. And that actually leads me to my second big realization that took me a little bit longer to grasp. And it was the need to find your own motivation or your passion project, as my coworker Tracy always says. And my co workers kind of told me very early on that one of the greatest things here is that we are very empowered to kind of pick a passion and and make it a project or related to the business somehow. And I would always say, Well, how do you do that? Or like, give me a project and I’ll do it. I just I don’t know what you mean by saying just pick something and do it. And it really wasn’t until a few months in that it really clicked so a few months, and you actually asked me if I could look into team branding and kind of the social media aspect more. And that’s kind of when it started to make sense to me. As I started doing some more research, I decided that that was To be my project, and with the help of my coworkers, I was going to create something that would hopefully become very big and impactful for the organization, which later became more of our team brand. And this podcast, actually, and really anything social media related. And then the last thing that surprised me was kind of the importance and impact of your network and mentorships and kind of creating that tribe around you at Microsoft. I think people from every department were very, very generous with their time when I first started, they were always willing to mentor me have weekly or monthly one on ones give me advice, or just kind of explain acronyms, acronyms to me, since that’s kind of the biggest part of Microsoft. And it was shocking just how willing people were to help me grow my network and grow my skills here. And obviously, I wanted to pay it forward. So I’m always willing to talk to others teach new hires or reach out to them as well now since that’s what people did for me, so it’s a great, great cycle that I noticed and that’s just very surprising to me, given that everyone is so busy all the time.
Andrea McGonigle: Yes, I definitely say the culture Microsoft is very unique. But it’s always been one that people are willing to help each other. You know, no matter what’s going on, if you ask and reach out, say want to learn more, we really do embrace the learn it all culture here, and really make people feel welcome to explore and learn from others. It’s a great part of being at this company. I have another question for you, as you reflect on the last 12 months, what would you tell someone who’s interested in coming to Microsoft? What What should they know? why Microsoft,
Claire Bonaci: I think I would say that if you’re interested in working here and kind of realized that these are some of the best minds in technology and the industry in general, and that you’ll be working with the most the best and brightest, and you’ll be learning from them, which is a very humbling experience to think about. And also think about what you want to do and accomplish and why you have so many opportunities to showcase your passion and goals and ultimately who you are here so you really should have a general idea of what you’re trying to accomplish. And I think I’d also want to want people to remember to take everything in stride when pursuing their career here. Or even when you first start. I think it’s very easy to get caught up in the complexities of of office drama that occurs every highly complex or matrixed company. But if you can always go back to the realization that you have so many opportunities to learn from the most innovative people in the technology industry here, then it all does become very worth in the end. And it really none of the rest matters for the most part.
Andrea McGonigle: That’s right, you got to put your head down and focus on the customers and know what’s best for the customer. And good things will happen for everyone.
Claire Bonaci: Exactly.
Andrea McGonigle: I think I one cool fact about you, Claire is you actually grew up on the Microsoft campus. So we wanted to share a little bit about that when you were a child, you spent a lot of time on the campus correct?
Claire Bonaci: I did. Yes. And my mom worked at Microsoft for around 20 years and I was always kind of in and out around the commens and the cafeteria. And I would always draw on her whiteboards for the most part. So I spent most of my summers there. I did soccer camp there as well. So I’ve kind of been at Microsoft my whole life and it really I am very proud to say that Now I worked there as an adult, feels like I never left.
Andrea McGonigle: That’s great. That’s great. And we really are excited to have you on the team. It’s been a year. And I know you hit on some of the projects that you were talking about. But definitely from a social perspective, first of all, you’re the perspective that you bring coming into the team with new ideas. It’s so important for all of us to grow and learn from. And I also think from a social perspective, the impact, you know, you came up with this idea and branding and gave us some advice around how we should be handling that. And our thought leadership now that best practice is shared across a team of 400 plus people. And that’s how we amplify our messaging. And we can see by the metrics having a huge impact. So those passion projects really pay off in the long run and appreciate all your time and insight. And I know there’s only going to be more great things ahead for you. So really excited. Well, great. Thank you. It’s absolutely a pleasure to have you on the team. Really excited about your future here at Microsoft. I’m so glad you could share with us your insights after your first year here at Microsoft. Here’s to many more. Thank you!
Claire Bonaci: Thanks so much.
Claire Bonaci: Thank you all for watching. Please feel free to leave us questions or comments below and check back soon for more content from the HLS industry team.
Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.