Courage has always been Nivi’s quiet companion. We’re not talking about the raucous bravado that propels adrenaline junkies but rather one molded by endless curiosity. This trait led Nivi to non-traditional paths both in her personal and professional life.
Born in India, raised in the UK, India and Singapore, and educated in the UK and Australia, she started her career at GSK in Asia. Now living in the US, Nivi’s travels fed an appetite to continually explore the world. Her adventures also nurtured an appreciation for people of different cultures and backgrounds.
“My parents were different in how they viewed the world and subsequently what they wanted for their children,” said Nivi. “They gave me and my sister the freedom, encouraging us to step outside of traditional expectations and pursue what we wanted. I cannot tell you the difference it makes when you have the support of your family.”
This energetic leader built a highly successful career based on her love of science and passion for helping people. She started with a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology from University of Bath and a master’s degree in Molecular Biotechnology from University of Sydney.
“Early in my career, I would get questions from very well-intended people who would ask what I was doing to find a spouse, or there would be assumptions that since I’m a single woman, I have more bandwidth,” Nivi remembers. “I was also cautioned against being a workaholic. The thing is I have never been against getting married or having a family. I just don’t see these as being mutually exclusive.”
At GSK, Nivi grew from being a clinical research associate to medical scientific liaison. Happily ensconced in the world of science, she was fulfilled and content with her career.
Little did she know, a move was on the horizon.
“I was asked to join the vaccines marketing team. I was terrified and said no three times. I’m a scientist, I didn’t have any marketing training or experience,” recalled Nivi.
But I took a leap of faith based on the potential that someone saw in me. Part of my appetite for risk allows me to embrace and not run away from change. I could have missed out on so much if I had been too afraid to make that move.
Nivi was on a roll. More leaps of faith surfaced. Relocating to Belgium for a position in global vaccine marketing where she met people from many different countries, engaged with manufacturing teams and collaborated with fellow scientists. Then a promotion and chance to live and work in the US.
These days Nivi serves as a regional field vice president in the Respiratory business unit overseeing 14 states. It is a role that allows her to see the impact of GSK products on patients while supporting her team to realize their true potential.
“I could have given into societal pressures, to do what everyone else was doing and yes it does take courage to make some choices,” Nivi said.
The way I think about it is, my plan is written in pencil. That means things may not always work out the way you plan. When that happens you can either resist the change or go with it and keep learning no matter what.
Part of Nivi’s commitment to diversity can be seen in the additional roles she’s taken on at GSK. This includes serving as a global co-lead for the Women’s Leadership Initiative Employee Resource Group at GSK.
“I love that at GSK we emphasize getting company culture right,” Nivi said. “I appreciate all the development opportunities, regardless of whether you want to gain breadth, depth or just learn extra skills to excel. In my opinion, it boils down to you taking the initiative and having a leader willing to take a chance on you.”
May is Asian Pacific American Heritage month. Recognition that means something special for Nivi.
“I have explored much of the world and lived in many countries. I didn’t expect those journeys to enhance my understanding and appreciation of others but it absolutely did,” said Nivi.
Those windows into the world are precious. Asian Pacific American Heritage Month helps shine the light on all the beautiful pieces of the culture and I’m even more encouraged to keep raising awareness every day of the year.