In this article, we shine the spotlight on Antonella Cominetti, Senior Consultant at NDA, and learn how she discovered the path to a greater purpose by identifying her passion and calling.
Discovering the path to a greater purpose
While people assume that purpose is a destination, some say it is a point of arrival, and others believe it is a never-ending journey. However, for Antonella Cominetti, Senior Consultant at NDA, discovering the path to a greater purpose began with identifying her passion and calling.
Antonella holds a Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology license from the Università degli Study of Milan, Italy, and is an enthusiastic regulatory affairs professional. However, studying Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology was not her first port of call. While in high school, she excelled in classical studies, but quickly realized that she was more inclined to maths, chemistry, and the natural sciences. This interest was partly inspired by her natural science teacher, who adopted a unique mode of instruction—making schemes on the blackboard. This style, according to Antonella, was a perfect fit because it captivated her interest as a visual learner and created a longing that was waiting to be expressed.
“I enjoyed studying Latin, Greek, and literature, but I soon realized that I am called by science. When I started looking for faculties with available courses in the natural sciences, I spoke to one of my aunts, who was working at the Ministry of Education, and she said to me: ‘If you're interested in science, and none of the faculties you have looked at is appealing to you, why not consider pharmaceutical chemistry and technology?’ I looked at the program and I understood that pharmaceutical chemistry and technology is a combination of all the courses I love.”
By the end of her studies, Antonella discovered that she wanted to build her career and experience outside academia, hence she started looking for industry-related jobs. “My mother showed me a job advert in the newspaper, but I thought it was not for me. As I was the only one in my family who chose scientific studies, it was difficult to share the details of what I was looking out for. However, I noticed another job advert and thought to myself, ‘Yes! This is something for me. I can do this.’ It was a job in regulatory affairs,” she recounted.
Beginning with the end in mind
Antonella landed her first job, working in regulatory affairs. It exposed her to colleagues from different backgrounds, culture, and countries, which helped her develop amazing communication, interpersonal, and relationship skills. She also grew within the company and gained experience working on registration and life cycle management of small molecules in a variety of regions including EU, Asia, Latin America and North Africa.
“I found my way around quickly by looking at what had been done in the industry previously. I became independent and able to judge between when I needed help and when I was feeling comfortable. The experience taught me that even when you're not comfortable, with the right resources, you can still succeed, and as much as I landed by chance in regulatory affairs, the fact that I could do it immediately at an international level made me convinced that this was something I really wanted to do.”
After working for seven years, Antonella’s explorer mind kicked in. She decided it was time to look elsewhere, try something new, and gain experience in other areas of regulatory affairs like early development, biological, orphan and non-orphan medicinal products. She started looking for opportunities outside Italy, and after a few years working in Ticino, Switzerland, she eventually moved to Geneva, in the French part of Switzerland to join her husband.
A few years later, the birth of her son made her even more determined to give her energies to what was important to her—family and career—so she decided to focus on finding a job that would provide flexibility and balance. “I tend to want to do everything, but I realised that I'm not Wonder Woman; there is a limit to my energies and my resources, and I need to split it to what is important for me. Work is very important, but my family is equally important. Therefore, I decided to look out for a job that would give me balance and flexibility,” she said.
The best of both worlds
In March 2017, Antonella joined NDA as a Senior Consultant. She was thrilled to work with other experts, gain new experiences, participate in different projects, and build a strong international network. As a good team player, she was excited to be in an environment where she could express herself freely. Most importantly, the role was flexible and provided a great work-life balance.
“I think the opportunity to work at NDA came at the right time. Consulting is not something I would have naturally chosen to do, but NDA made it easy for me. Firstly, the company is well-known for its outstanding Advisory Board members, so I am delighted to be working as a consultant in an organization that is involved in diverse, complex projects. Moreso, I have a network of colleagues across the globe who trust me and are always willing to help. I honestly appreciate the helping-each-other culture of NDA because you're much stronger when you are not alone. Overall, my brain is stimulated in the right direction.”
For Antonella, working as a regulatory consultant gives her a sense of purpose and an opportunity to contribute to different stages of a client’s project. She describes herself as an explorer and life-long learner, hence, she is inspired by every opportunity to learn something new and solve problems for others.
Antonella has a fun and outgoing personality and is passionate about her work. From her experience, she advises that it is important not only to look at the big picture besides the details but also to get out of your comfort zone and strive for success. In her own words:
“Don't hesitate to get out of your comfort zone, especially if you are interested in learning and experiencing new things. At the beginning, it may be challenging, but that is what will make you grow.”