Carolina Gonzalez on pharma packaging and the lack of female leaders on her path

By Liza Laws

- Last updated on GMT

© Genesis Packaging Technologies
© Genesis Packaging Technologies

Related tags Women in Science Biotechnology Packaging Manufacturing Supply chain Vials Pharmacology

Carolina is responsible for the consulting department at Genesis Packaging Technologies where she designs package characterization studies.

She also supports pharmaceutical companies in understanding sealing process principles and Residual Seal Force (RSF) fundamentals and in evaluating package selection. Here we find out what makes her tick and about her journey as a woman in science. 

Could you give us an overview of your work?

As a parenteral packaging scientist, I lead the consulting department of Genesis where I work closely with clients to help them optimize vial sealing processes by understanding the process itself and the residual seal force principles. I also design package characterization studies that are conducted in our lab, which allow us to be part of all the life cycle of the product, from the initial stages of package development to the validation and production stages.

When did you realise you were interested in science - as a young child, teen, or older?

I have loved science for as long as I can remember. At school, I was really good at math, biology and chemistry. I always dreamed about becoming an engineer because my father was an engineer, so I was constantly fascinated with what engineers could do. In high school, I had two teachers that instilled the passion for chemistry in me, and that is how I ended up getting my bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering.

Could you describe your personal journey bringing us to where you are now?

During my career, I have had the opportunity to work in different fields. During my bachelor and master studies, I focused on the development of catalysts used in combustion engines to remove pollutants. I moved to the world of electrochemistry during my PhD studies, where my focus was to develop new materials for energy production and storage applications, such as fuel cells, batteries, supercapacitors, etc. That led me to an interesting post-doctoral position where I worked developing reactive inks for photovoltaics applications.

After several years in academia, I realized that I wanted to move to the industry where I could see the practical application of my work. I started in the electronics manufacturing field, and a couple of years ago I was fortunate enough to join Genesis where I have learned about the pharmaceutical packaging world. Three years into this job I can say that I am doing something that I love and I am happy to continue learning in my daily activities.

What challenges did you face - as a woman or otherwise - along the way and what is the most valuable lesson you have learned?

Probably one of the challenges I faced was not having female role models in leadership positions within engineering. While I always had my parents’ support, I felt like there were practically no women around me who could offer mentorship or in the media that I could use as a model or inspiration. That did not bring me down, though. On the contrary, that made me determined to be one of the few women in my family to pursue a career in engineering.

What ignites your passion in your current role?

During my first week at Genesis, I had several meetings with my mentor, who showed me the importance of what we do. Being my first time in pharma, and most specifically in parenteral packaging, it was amazing to learn that what we do has a direct impact on society, especially on people. Something that may look simple as a sealed vial containing some vaccine or drug product, is not simple at all, for there is a vast amount of work and science behind those components and the sealing processes to protect the product and, therefore, the patients.

What is your current work ethos/style?

I always see myself as a part of a team. No matter the role, I value each person and try to help everyone into getting the best out of them. I think that having great communication and valuing everybody’s contributions is key for success. 

Could you share some advice for young women starting to develop an interest in science or wanting to pursue a career like yours?

If you are interested in science, do not let others decide for you or tell you that you are not capable. Focus on what you want and what you need to do to accomplish your goals.

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