If anything, this pandemic underscores how important our health is — and I don’t take it for granted. Watching healthcare workers on the front lines risk their lives every day to help others — that’s the real inspiration. That alone is a reason to continue to feel optimistic and hopeful.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.
As a part of my series about how women leaders in tech and STEM are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Moran Snir.
Moran Snir works in product development at Invitae, a leading genetics company whose mission is to bring comprehensive genetic information into mainstream medicine. At Invitae, Moran leverages technology and design to create products that make genetic information more accessible and streamlined. Prior to Invitae, Moran was co-founder and CEO of Clear Genetics, which was acquired by Invitae in November 2019. At Clear Genetics, Moran developed intuitive and thoughtful software for clinicians to manage genetic information and patient communication. She also worked at Medtronic where she held positions in strategic planning and business development. Moran has an MBA from Wharton with a major in healthcare management. Moran lives in San Francisco with her husband and 3 sons.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I grew up as a daughter of a medical geneticist and epidemiologist, so talking about genetics at the dinner table was commonplace. So when I moved to the United States in 2011 to get my MBA, I felt like a lot of people didn’t realize the value of genetic information as it relates to their overall health. This idea that genetics was complicated, expensive and difficult to access — that struck me. It didn’t need to be. Genetic information could be relevant, easy to understand and part of routine care.
When I was in my early 20s, my dad led an effort to streamline carrier screening, which is genetic screening that can tell you your risk of passing on a disease to a child. So some friends and I created a software program for him. The idea that genetic information could be easier to understand, patient-friendly and integrate with any medical practice inspired me to co-found Clear Genetics with my husband Guy. Invitae acquired Clear six months ago, so it’s nice to be among like-minded people who also believe that genetic information should be part of routine care.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
I had an “aha moment” when I started getting requests for our software outside of the traditional genetic world. Doctors in other clinical areas like cardiology, radiology, infertility — they all wanted to know more and use our software in their practice. This really showed me how technology could expand access to genetic information in a patient-friendly, responsible way. This could truly impact — and improve — patient care.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
In light of the current pandemic, we’ve seen our telehealth platform really come to life. With so many clinicians shifting to telehealth, we’ve made it easier to educate patients on genetic testing, help clinicians manage workflows and even order a test — all remotely. This is helping to continue important genetic services while keeping many clinicians and patients at home safely.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’m lucky to have such a supportive family — my parents and my husband — and even my team — they’re also like family. But without my husband, Guy, none of this would have been possible.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman in STEM during this pandemic?
I’ve always had to juggle work and kids — like many parents — so the pandemic has just exacerbated that. Keeping a balance of work and home is hard in normal times, but even harder when we’re all living and working at home and together all the time.
I have three sons, ages 10, 6 and 4 and my husband and I are now managing homeschooling. All of their activities have come to a halt, and we have no childcare options. The one good thing is that I feel like the world has slowed down just a bit — so I’m trying to embrace that and enjoy this time together.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Family activities are key. We do a daily walk/bike-ride as a family that gets us away from screens and gets us outside. I’m also trying to be flexible. School, work, meals, play time, activities — it can all add up. So if the kids are happy spending three hours digging a hole in the mud in our back yard — then I’m happy.
Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in STEM during this pandemic?
I think all working women feel the guilt of being pulled between work and family. I feel guilty about having the kids at home without always being able to be present.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I’m embracing this time together and making a point to have moments together. We bake, take a lot of long walks and bike rides and watch more movies together as a family. What I’ve seen is that carving out special times makes me feel less guilty about having calls during the day.
I’m also way more flexible with the kids being around during my calls and meetings. Since everyone else is in the same boat, it’s OK if one of my boys is sitting next to me doing homework while I’m on a call. Things are much more casual.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
I think taking it day-by-day works for me. I’ll have plans — but I also know things can shift quickly. So being flexible is also key.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place for long periods with your family?
I definitely take time for myself. My barre studio has offered at-home workouts, so I workout every day. That helps with mood, energy — and gives me clarity to make decisions for work — and at home. I also wake up early so I can have time in the house to work (or just have coffee!) when the house is quiet.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- Health. If anything, this pandemic underscores how important our health is — and I don’t take it for granted. Watching healthcare workers on the front lines risk their lives every day to help others — that’s the real inspiration. That alone is a reason to continue to feel optimistic and hopeful.
- The kindness of others. We’re seeing some people really shine. Whether it’s someone moving away to keep 6-ft apart or waving as you walk by, people are being generous and gracious during this difficult time. I hope this continues long after the pandemic.
- Spring. Flowers are blooming and the sun is shining. Small things can make a difference. There’s something reassuring about how nature continues at its own pace and is so powerful, nothing can move it off course. Even Covid.
- Great TV/Movies. Normally, I don’t have a lot of time to watch movies or TV shows. But now, we’ve had time to go back to great classics with the boys, like E.T. and Free Willy.
- Cooking. I rarely had time to cook fancy dinners with the kids, but now we’re going all-in and it’s a fun family activity. We’re exploring new recipes like Lebanese pita bread with Kebab and Tahini and it’s become a fun nightly activity as a family.
From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
I think recognizing that everyone is struggling helps people feel less isolated and alone. Reaching out to friends or family members helps people feel more connected. I know I’m talking to my friends in Israel more often — they keep me grounded and it reminds me of home.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Keep walking, you will get there” is something my grandmother always told me. It’s shown to be so true in my life: moving forward and not stopping, overcoming barriers, and being persistent helps you accomplish your goals and visions.
How can our readers follow you online?
@invitae on Twitter, Instagram
My Twitter @cleargenetics
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!