Feature Stories

How Astellas enabled me to advance my career while supporting my family

Oct 19, 2016

By Seema Gorla, Astellas Working Mother of the Year and executive director, group lead, Safety Science Aggregate Safety Assessment

I come from a loving immigrant family where my parents worked hard to help my brother and me succeed in a new country. My mother sacrificed her medical career to provide us stability at home, and my father gave up time with his family to build his pediatric practice. I have always admired and respected my mother’s love and support and my father’s drive to succeed and desire to make a lasting impact on others. I’m fortunate to be married to a man who is an extremely supportive partner. However, prior to coming to Astellas, we often struggled with balancing family responsibilities.

After our third child was born, I stepped out of the workforce for a year to get our young family off the ground. I served as a consultant, and soon realized that I wanted to make contributions to society as part of a large organization. I learned about an opening for a medical director in Pharmacovigilance at Astellas and, though I was apprehensive about balancing career and family, I took the opportunity. Soon after joining the company, I was amazed by the support and flexibility the company provided to help me meet my career and personal goals. I have been able to modify my work hours to accommodate doctors’ appointments, school plays, and parent teacher conferences while continuing to make meaningful contributions at work. I’ve also had exciting opportunities to grow my career and work in a culture that promotes diversity, charity and collaboration. 

A major life event that opened my eyes to my good fortune came two years ago when my mother suffered a sudden cardiac arrest.  This was a life-changing event for my family, and it occurred during the globalization of our department. Due to the flexibility and telecommuting options offered by Astellas and the unwavering support of management, I was able to immediately travel to my hometown to be at my mother’s side and work remotely. Thankfully, my mother made a remarkable recovery and my parents came to stay with us for several weeks during her rehabilitation. I was also able to flex my work hours so I could attend to my parents’ needs throughout her recovery.

Most recently, all three of my children developed pneumonia sequentially over several weeks. As it often happens, one recovered just in time for the next one to be ill.  Thankfully, again I was able to adjust work hours and telecommute from home until the acute phase of their illnesses passed. I also used Astellas’ back-up child care option so I could return to the office in person knowing that my kids were being cared for by professional caretakers. 

It is a great honor and a career highlight for me to represent Astellas as this year’s Working Mother of the Year. It is especially meaningful because it demonstrates to my children that it is possible to support personal family needs while developing your career.   I’m proud to have my name associated with a company that provides me the support to nurture my family like my mother did me, as well as make meaningful contributions to society like my father.  By giving us the resources to bring our best selves to work each day, we are able to be role models for others and work more effectively for the benefit of patients worldwide.