Yesterday, Penguin Hall welcomed Dr. Nerissa Kreher as a guest speaker for our Women in Leadership Speaker Series. Past speakers have included Professor Sanyin Siang
and Dr. Diane Ryan
Dr. Kreher is an accomplished physician executive and pediatric endocrinologist with biotech experience in Clinical Development and Medical Affairs. Her expertise is in the development of medications/products for rare diseases spanning multiple therapeutic areas. Currently the Chief Medical Officer at Entrada Therapeutics, Dr. Kreher oversees clinical and regulatory development strategy.
She also happens to be the mother of one our students, Elaina Kreher ’22!
With Sydney DiGiulio ‘21 and Elaina Kreher ‘22 as our student moderators, Dr. Kreher shared her advice on life, getting started in a medical field, and pursuing education beyond high school. Throughout her talk, Dr. Kreher answered questions from our students and faculty
Elaina: Who is a role model you look up to in your own life and why?
Dr. Kreher: When I was growing up, my father instilled in me that I could do anything I wanted to. It didn’t matter what society thought as something a male could do or a women could do. I had the ability to do whatever I wanted!
Elaina: What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your life and how did you get through it?
Dr. Kreher: My mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was a freshman in college and she passed away the summer between my junior and senior year. This was a very formative period of my life. Mom was really involved and always supported me no matter what I did. I knew that no matter what I did, she would always be proud of me which has kept me going!
Sydney: What advice would you give to all of us high school seniors especially from the challenges in your own life and going through med school?
Dr. Kreher: Stay curious! You may know what you want to major in, but I encourage you to take classes that have nothing to do with your major. Ask a lot of questions in classes. It’s important to go to college with curiosity. When I was a student, I was always worried about who was watching me and being judged. It led to me not doing things I wish I had been brave enough to do. I didn’t know because I didn’t try. Never be afraid to try new things!
Sydney: How was med school different from college?
Dr. Kreher: It’s competitive. People did help each other but it was eye opening. I went from being the smartest in my college classes to entering a world where the entire room is made up of the smartest people in class.
Ms. Marchesseault: Have you ever worked in hospital? Has COVID-19 effected your work?
Dr. Kreher: Yes! When I chose my hospital residency, I chose pediatrics, then moved on to endocrinologist specialties within a hospital setting. I actually made a job change during Covid to the biotech lab I currently work at today. Everything had to slow down because of the number of people who could be working in the labs. It was definitely a challenge!
Mr. Gorton: As a medical professional, what do you think the world has learned (or will learn) from the pandemic?
Dr. Kreher: I truly believe we have learned to be better towards one another by making sure those closest to us are healthy and safe. Technology has also been used in so many great ways and we’ve certainly learned how to use it better for work and connecting with family and friends.
Mr. Borzi: You oversee a lot of different groups and interview many people. If you were presented with two candidates: one with a bad attitude and great skills and vice versa, which one would you choose and why?
Dr. Kreher: I would say the person who is a fast learner and may not have all the skills yet. but has a great personality and attitude. Work culture on a team is very important. I would be very focused on a person who is a life-learner, going to look for information on their own, have done their homework and is willing to be a team-player!
Have you experienced any challenges in being a women in your career?
Dr. Kreher: Mid-way in my career, there were three open positions at the company I was working at and all three were Vice President roles. Two were filled with men and one was open. I went to my manager and said “I meet all of the qualifications and I believe I deserve this position.” They kept putting it off and not giving me the straight answer I needed. That was really frustrating for me. I then made the decision to leave that company because I just wasn’t making headway. IT was very hard to leave a well-established company, but sometimes the right decisions to make for the right trajectory for a career are hard ones!
How do you think your perspective as a leader has changed?
Dr. Kreher: Being a parent and balancing a career, I hope I am a better leader for my teams and employees. I’ve had great bosses that have supported me when I needed something as a new parent and I want to do the same for my employees if life needs their immediate attention.
What is the one key word that comes to mind on a characteristic of a leader?
Dr. Kreher: Giving! Leadership is not about taking. It’s about the team and putting the team first.
Any last advice?
Dr. Kreher: Yes! Be true to yourself. There’s a great quote by author Tene Edwards that I would love to share with you before I leave:
“Know your worth. You must find the courage to leave the table if respect is no longer being served.”