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Barinder Sandhu Discusses Empowering Future Generations of Female STEM Leaders: Part One

Barinder Sandhu is the Founder and CEO of Evergreen Pharma Solutions. Through Evergreen Pharma Solutions, Barinder Sandhu provides consulting services to global pharmaceutical companies, including those focused on the pharmaceutical cannabis space within North America. Her unique skill set has allowed her to effectively work with both C-suite leaders and line management, at a strategic […]

Barinder Sandhu
Barinder Sandhu

Barinder Sandhu is the Founder and CEO of Evergreen Pharma Solutions. Through Evergreen Pharma Solutions, Barinder Sandhu provides consulting services to global pharmaceutical companies, including those focused on the pharmaceutical cannabis space within North America. Her unique skill set has allowed her to effectively work with both C-suite leaders and line management, at a strategic and operational level, on a variety of business transformation projects.

Barinder Sandhu was born in Toronto, Ontario, and has lived in Canada and the United States. She obtained her degree in Chemistry from the University of Toronto and later earned her MBA from the prestigious Rotman School of Business. She has also obtained post-graduate certificates in Pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs and Quality Operations and holds a green belt in Lean Sigma manufacturing.

Barinder Sandhu’s technical and scientific background was crucial in building a strong foundation in regulatory affairs within the pharmaceutical industry. Her MBA allowed her to develop a solid understanding of the business and macro environment, which, coupled with her scientific background, has enabled her to strike a balance between taking on broad leadership roles and pursuing her lifelong dream of being an entrepreneur.

What is your favorite aspect of the Pharmaceutical industry?

“For me it is simple, I love innovation in advancing novel therapies. Being a part of the pharmaceutical industry has given me an opportunity to play a part in new product development while helping individuals live healthier lives. I am sure everyone has at one point in their life, or will at some point, have to witness their nearest and dearest family members, face certain health challenges. I find it very satisfying to play a role, albeit a very small role, to help sick people.”

How did you get started in the Pharmaceutical industry?

“I learnt early on while studying for my chemistry degree that I did not necessarily want to be a scientist working in the laboratory. My interests and passions have always been to use science ‘as a means to an end rather than the end itself.’ To this effect, the Regulatory Affairs role within the pharmaceutical industry requires an understanding of product development, production, and commercial operations.”

How do you remain motivated to achieve your full potential?

“I am energized by taking on new challenges and moving outside of my comfort zone. I love reading how advances in new technology are shaping the way novel therapies are being identified and made accessible to patients.

When it came to the cannabis industry, I understood there was an opportunity to use my core pharmaceutical experience in this evolving area. I recognized early on that there would be the inevitable convergence between traditional pharma companies and evolving cannabis companies focused on developing cannabinoid containing products. I was motivated to understand the new regulations to support these disruptions in the industry. While I am continuously having to reinvent myself, I view every experience as a learning opportunity.

My primary reason for obtaining an MBA was driven by the fact that it is virtually impossible to move into a scientific role, having started in business. I know of very few people who have moved from a business-centric role to a scientific discipline. However, many scientists have successfully established themselves as strong business leaders.

One thing that I have learned over the years, is that being a continuous learner will always put you in a stronger position to meet the ever-changing external environment. I also think that teaching, mentoring, and coaching your teams is another way to reinforce learning.”

How did you first become interested in STEM?

“My mother taught me the basics of science and math at an early age and encouraged me to be analytical. I remember being in the kitchen and helping her bake. She would never let my sisters and I blindly throw ingredients into a bowl. Instead, she taught us precision, and how to accurately measure out the proper amounts.

Where would we be today had it not been for these valuable childhood lessons?  My mother was extremely supportive of us; however, due to her family circumstances, she was never given the opportunity to fulfill her true potential in STEM. Reflecting on my mother’s missed professional opportunities inspired me to encourage other young women to pursue a career in STEM. It was my mother who planted the seed, and I am eternally grateful for all that she has taught me.”

What role has higher education played in your career development?

“Higher education has helped me relate to individuals coming from various backgrounds and cultures. Today’s higher learning curriculums are designed for students to interact with diverse groups of individuals. Working collaboratively is essential in today’s professional landscape. I think having the ability to recognize different opinions and perspectives is critical, especially in a group environment.

The MBA program also provided me with the tools to analyze problems differently and come up with creative solutions. Moreover, I was able to take ideas from other students who were working in different industry sectors, and then apply these learnings to the needs of the pharmaceutical industry.” 

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