Sudharshana Seshadri

Associate vice president, Clinical Mass Spec at Agilent Technologies

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Brightest minds are needed to solve some of the greatest challenges that human-kind is facing.

What do you do?

I lead a business within the Mass Spectrometry Division, where we utilize the products to enable exciting research and diagnosis. One of the more compelling parts of my job is to lead teams that are involved in some exciting programs such as cancer research, etc. Its hard work but very fulfilling given the end impact of the product & technology in the space of life science research.

Why did you choose this field?

This is always a hard question to answer :)
My dad is a mechanical engineer and so when I was really young, I considered him my role model. He always had a great way of explaining problems and solve it in an analytical manner. He always encouraged me to think about engineering; he always said, "if you don't know what you want to do, become an engineer so you can begin to solve problems and along the way, you can figure out your passion!" This was solid advice and I stuck with it. I was always drawn to biological sciences as well, so the combination of engineering and enabling health sciences was something I took to heart. I completed my Bioengineering from Penn State University with a minor in Engineering Mechanics. I had several internships where I gained experiences in developing, testing medical devices. All that further embedded in me the need to be in the industry as quickly as possible. The internships that I held, here in the US and also in Singapore, allowed me to clearly see that I wanted to enable teams and development of products. So in senior year, I started looking and found a great job at Agilent Technologies and haven't looked back since.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I remember when I was sitting in the airport at Newark, NJ when I was around 13 or 14. There was a woman who was sitting across from me wearing a very well ironed suit and shirt. She was working on her (very large) laptop. And then when the flight was announced, she put her laptop in her roll on bag and walked on the flight. Something about her confidence and purpose with which she stepped, made a huge impression on me. It made me think, "wow, she must be so good at whatever she is doing!"
Fast forward many years later, I have been that woman many times, on number of flights, in airports across the world. I want to tell younger me to not just work hard, but figure out your passion, likes, dislikes with the same level of urgency. Sooner you realize your gifts and potential that you have to give to the world, the better your chances are for that purposeful stride to wherever you are going (towards a flight, towards a business meeting, towards a research lab, towards your customers, towards your loved ones etc etc)

Why do you love working in STEM?

The impact of the technologies that we develop, manufacture and sell enables some precision science in fields that are so important to quality of human life. For e.g. Agilent's instruments, products and services are used in development of key drugs and pharmaceuticals, its used to test the water quality, it's used to qualify food safety and enables research and diagnostics in areas like cancer. Waking up everyday and working along side with people that want to make this sort of science possible is exciting and moving. I hope you are able to find what excites you as well!

Best advice for next generation?

I would say, the impact of STEM to the enablement of human health and quality of life is immense. Brightest minds are needed to solve some of the greatest challenges that human-kind is facing: Pandemics, climate change, age related diseases, pollution, and the list goes on and on.... Each of you could have an important impact to these key issues in your own way. Like I said, find what excites you, find what moves you, find what you are good at and then go out and give your gift to others. The next generation of STEM leaders are going to bring forth important discoveries and developments to solve our toughest challenges.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

"In a gentle way, you can shake the world"- Mahatma Gandhi

NOMINATE a woman in STEM

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