The power in controlling your career progression narrative

Women in Biotech Series

June 30, 2023
About the Author
Kristen Eck, Manager, Marketing Operations joined Mirati Therapeutics early in 2022. She has a variety of experience across the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. She has a passion for excellence and an eagerness to contribute to a team, all for the greater good of patients.

Q. Can you describe your role at Mirati?

A: At Mirati, I am the Manager of Marketing Operations. I manage national-level conferences and print fulfillment of our marketing materials.

Q. Walk us through the career path that brought you to Mirati and what made you decide to pursue a career in pharma?

A: My path to pharma started when I decided to go back to school to pursue a degree in Healthcare Administration. I owned a hair salon in Wichita, Kansas at the time, and a lot of my clients were in the medical field. Their candor fascinated me enough to make a career change. When making the choice to go back to school, biotech or the pharmaceutical industry was not something I was even aware of. But, after some exposure to the clinical side of healthcare, and a cross-country move to California, my eyes were opened to the pharmaceutical industry. The dynamic opportunities that existed within the industry and the ability to be a part of something that makes a positive impact on the world – that was something I wanted to pursue.

Q. Considering the breadth of this industry, why did you choose to work at Mirati?

A: It’s the people. It’s always the people first for me. Surrounding myself with ambitious, driven people inspires me to strive for excellence in my own career. Their success motivates me to work harder and aim higher, and I have found myself more willing to take risks and pursue opportunities. The people at Mirati, paired with the company’s launch timing and growth, created a perfect environment to inspire my growth.

Q. Did you have a mentor? If so, how did that experience help shape you in your career?

A: I have had numerous mentors personally and professionally. I’m an advocate for surrounding yourself with people who challenge your thinking and encourage growth. Two of these individuals stand out as doing just that. One is my sister, a previous HR leader and now the head of community for a Women’s Leadership Development organization. I feel so fortunate to have her as a sounding board as she has shaped the way I have navigated difficult conversations throughout my career. My other mentor was a seasoned leader in the pharmaceutical industry. She taught me how to leverage my skillsets to be considered for stretch assignments and development opportunities. She was a role model for how to advance my career, advocate for myself, and ultimately was the catalyst for my transition out of an administrative position and into a marketing role. These women provided guidance and support which I will forever be grateful for but more importantly than the feedback they provided, they modeled the behaviors of an inspiring, trusting, and humble leader.

Q. What is the best piece of advice you have received in your career? How did it change how you operate?

A: Look at where you are and where you want to be – then create a plan. Fill the gaps by taking courses, attending workshops, and seeking out mentorship and guidance. I have always seen myself as a motivated and driven person but upon reflection, I was passive with my career advancement and self-advocacy. Once I understood that I had the power to control the narrative around my career and progression, I felt clear on my path forward.

Q. When did you learn the power of self-advocacy? How has it allowed you to grow into the leader that you are today?

A: Self-advocacy starts with the understanding of your own goals and needs, and this understanding is learned, developed, and fine-tuned over a lifetime! When focusing on my career growth, I first needed to know where I wanted to be in the future. Then I could advocate for development and negotiate opportunities for advancement. More importantly, and something I strongly believe in, self-advocacy is key for how I work.

The biotech industry is filled with high achievers that invest so much of themselves into their work. I admire this and have had to learn what my own investment looks like. I have learned that I must prioritize mental and physical health over my work – any day. Knowing my own goals and needs from an energy management perspective and having the confidence to communicate them to those around me allows for the sustainability of my personal and professional growth.

Q. You started at Mirati on the administration team but then took a role on the marketing team. That takes courage, strength, and resilience. What advice can you give to other women who are hesitant to come out of their comfort zone because of the fear of failing?

A: Surround yourself with people that provide support and encouragement. The right people can provide emotional support and motivation when you face challenges in your career. They can help you stay positive and focused and provide you with the confidence to pursue your goals. I was at 4 different companies, and in 5 different administrative roles, taking on stretch assignments and projects before I took my marketing role at Mirati. I applied for numerous roles outside of the administrative function being told no to all of them. But I stayed close to those who made the rejections feel like progression towards my goals and that support was invaluable.

Q.What is your personal perspective on the importance of sustaining a culture of inclusion to strengthen, inspire and cultivate a culture of belonging at Mirati?

A: People, as humans, not just as employees, want to feel valued, respected, and included. When that kind of safe space is created in a company, creativity thrives innovation increases, and productivity surges. A diverse and inclusive workforce brings together different perspectives and ideas that have been cultivated from various cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. How else could we possibly make the best, most well-rounded decisions for our customers and for the company? I believe the sustainable success of a company relies on diverse contributions from people who feel safe to share their unique voice.