Linda Caramichael

Head of Environment, Health, Safety & Sustainability – North America, Teva Pharmaceuticals

2021 Teva Rising Star

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How did you get your start in your career?

I have always been interested in protecting the environment. My love for math and science led me to engineering school, and from there my first job was as an environmental engineer in the petrochemical industry.  It was a few years after a well-publicized oil spill, and many people questioned my choice of employer, but I knew I could make an impact from within.  After working in large refineries and chemical plants in the US and globally, I became a consultant and after landing my first pharma client, I never looked back.

I love the combination of my role today protecting people, patients and the planet. This past year focusing on safety in our facilities became more vital than ever and I felt the weight of that responsibility, but also tremendous pride in what was accomplished.  You can never lose sight that all of these processes – from the shop floor to the cube -- are in service of protecting real people.

What is one risk that you have taken during your career journey thus far?

Early in my career I was afraid to take risks because I was afraid to fail. One of the earliest risks that I did take was when I decided to work full-time when my children were born.  I was not sure if I would be able to balance my new home life and work, and still progress my career.  However, I was very fortunate that I worked for a company whose leadership was supportive of the idea and we made it work. 

What are some factors that you attribute to your success in pharma?

Engineers are natural problem solvers and quite curious. Both of these attributes have helped me in my career. I also had diverse experience before I came to pharma – first in the petrochemical industry and then as a consultant working in many industries – which allowed me to see things through a different lens and spot things that others may miss.

What has been one of the greatest challenges you have faced in your career and how did you overcome that challenge?

When I left consulting to work full-time in pharma, I took on a global remit in a very large company and left a secure position with a clear career path. I had to learn quickly and seek out help to acclimate so, I spent a lot of time listening and observing. I learned to work with people across different cultures, regulatory regions, and different aspects of the pharma business (R&D, manufacturing and supply, commercial). It turned out to be a great decision -- the risk was worth it. 

What is one piece of advice you would give to the next generation of women starting their career in the pharmaceutical industry?

Spend the time to build relationships by finding a mentor, being a mentor and making meaningful contributions to a team. The projects and challenges come and go, but it is the people that make it fun and rewarding along the way.