Meet Seeba Manoj: Regional Director for Project Planning and Support (India)
"Working at Parexel is a dream. First and foremost, my personal goals, aspirations and vision of life is well-aligned with the vision and goals of Parexel. I chose a career in Life Science because I always wanted to make a difference to society. This may sound cliché but that is the gospel truth, for me."
Seeba Manoj, Regional Director for Project Planning and Support, shares with us how her now fellow colleagues encouraged her to join Parexel. Seeba also discusses how Parexel has supported her career and the many traits needed to successfully manage her colleagues and how to be successful in her role.
- Please introduce yourself and your role at Parexel.
I am Seeba Manoj and currently am employed as the Regional Director for Project Planning and Support at Parexel International in Bangalore, India. Armed with around 23 years of relevant work experience, spread across the Education and Healthcare segments of the industry, the last 8 years have been, and continues, to be with Parexel. In the course of my research leading to the award of my Ph.D, I found my passion for teaching, and I started my career as an Assistant Professor in Biotechnology and later worked as Head of the Biotechnology Department. Since then, it has been a very empowering professional journey.
I had donned many roles during my last 13 years tenure at CRO industry, every one of which was a lesson in life’s progression to where I find myself today. In my current position my primary role is to accord leadership to my cohesive and well-knit team in establishing best-in-class Project Management Services for our valuable clients, to advise on project support task including but not limited to strategic project-planning, quality support-services, use of innovate technical-tools, carry put meaningful data-analysis and problem-resolution.
- Can you tell me what a day in your job looks like? What are your core responsibilities?
My professional day starts much before I leave home. I structure the ‘day at the office’ in my mind and as I drive to work, I begin to order the tasks I have lined up in my mind. I am in my chair, at my office, much before my team members walk in. Attending to the pre-listed “to do - priority” tasks before the office opens for business.
My core responsibility, amongst others is to provide strategy-driven operational support with projects, collaborate internally and cross functionally with project-leaders and functional heads. My focus in that sense is to help establish high standards of productivity aimed at improving quality of projects. My core responsibility can be extended to include evolving and implementing customer-focused business-strategy towards provision of viable technical-solutions and tailor-made services to both internal and external clients
- When did you join Parexel, and why did you choose Parexel above our competitors?
I joined Parexel in 2014, admittedly to carve a niche for myself in the field of Clinical Research. Initially, I was mesmerized by the conversations of my friends who were employed at Parexel and would never lose an opportunity to make me feel that I am missing something. They used to boast about Parexel's culture, flexible work-life balance and stimulating employee-engagement. I did my research and due diligence of the organization and found to my surprise the focus it had on innovative drug development, keeping patients at the heart of everything they do, inclusiveness and diversity being the very edifice on which it’s ethos, philosophy and values were built. This aligned with my take on the need to be totally inclusive and diverse, not only in words but also in practice. The CSR initiatives of Paraxel humbled me to the extent that I saw nothing beyond Paraxel. So here I am.
- What traits and/or skills needed to be successful in your role?
There is no single trait that distinguishes a great leader from an “also-ran” manager.
Given the deadline-driven work environment, in which my team members and I operate, it is but inevitable that patience is the buzz-word. The "team leader" should not only be a competent task master but an equally empathetic people manager. Demanding yet compassionate.
The role calls for demonstration of performance-backed strong analytical skills, backed with a penchant for first time quality. Effectiveness and efficiency should come naturally to be successful in this role.
All in all, it calls for business acumen blend with empathetic leadership!
Seeba and her colleagues.
- What would you like people to know about your job or department?
Project Planning and Support (PPS) has been the strong and visible partner to Global Projects and Functional Leaders towards the offering of best- in-class project support services for its clients across all projects. Established with a global presence, in 2009, PPS-India was a late addition to the group, in 2013. The goal of PPS is to ensure sustained quality-driven operational project support on its projects through a network of collaborative arrangements with various project and functional leaders. Focusing on project-cost optimization, the thrust is on ensuring that the projects are cost-effective, of standard quality through adoption of best-industry-practices. Propelled by a customer-focused business strategy, PPS provides viable technical-solutions and services, tailor-made to client-needs.
PPS plays a crucial role in project support and management through a service of innovative strategic planning, quality driven, innovative technical-tools, meaningful data-analysis and problem resolution.
It brings to the table competence and contemporary skill-sets that offers support throughout the project lifecycle
- What is it about your position that challenges you most?
Every position is beset with challenges. Mine is no exception. When the basic resource-input “human” is the sensitive yet vibrant intellectual faculty, managing that input, towards meeting the goals of the organization, is by itself a challenge. I need to understand the psyche of each one of my team member and work towards leveraging the strength of one to overcome the weaknesses of the others or to complement the strengths of one with the other, to create synergy in the organizational efforts towards goal attainment.
No amount of impeccable planning can compensate for unforeseen hurdles at work, resulting from lack of synergy and work-complementarity amongst my team members. I would start the day believing that I have “all bases covered” and in no time realize that “bases” have shifted position.
This challenge magnified itself during the Pandemic when task of keeping my team engaged, motivated, and connected was herculean. This was so demanding that I literally struggled keeping all my team members highly motivated, notwithstanding the remote work environment, demanding deadlines and lack of human touch and connect.
- How would you describe what it’s like to work at Parexel?
Working at Parexel is a dream. First and foremost, my personal goals, aspirations and vision of life is well-aligned with the vision and goals of Parexel. I chose a career in Life Science because I always wanted to make a difference to society. This may sound cliché but that is the gospel truth, for me. The dedicated efforts of the Parexel team to develop innovative drugs that not only increase the quality of the life of the sick but helps cure the underlying disease is what stands out for me. I take immense pride in being a member of the Paraxel family. At Paraxel, bio-pharmaceutical research is not a business, on the contrary, it is way of life.
- What excites you most about the work you do?
As I have always held, my foray into a career in Bio-Sciences was not accidental. It is well-thought decision stemming from my desire to work towards alleviating pain and improving the quality of human life. I wanted to be a Doctor, in my early years, with the same purpose in mind. But destiny had other plans and here I am, still driven by the same life-purpose.
What excites me most, at work, is the deep-rooted belief of mine that every success of my team is a stepping stone in my journey and whatever we are doing is for the betterment of the society and patients. The belief that I have achieved what I set out to do gives me inner peace and tranquility to my emotions
- How has Parexel supported your career development?
Parexel takes personal interest in employee development. Parexel encourages its employees to design their own individual development plan and supports the employee through the 3E-Model - Education, Experience and Exposure. Robust training programs backed by influential mentors have together helped me to leverage my leadership skills and transform me into a sensitive, empathetic, and understanding leader, a tough taskmaster notwithstanding.
Another feature of the Parexel career-development initiative is the concept of job-shadowing or hybrid-roles which offers its employees on-the-job exposure and experience that assists career development to the hilt.
An efficient Succession Planning Program at Parexel in identifying and nurturing high-potential employees to be developed as future leaders have helped evolve into one and has also shown me the roadmap to ensuring that in my division.
I have evolved at Parexel, professionally as a leader and personally!
- If you are any Ally, what do you do/or how do you support your LGBTQ+ colleagues?
I am an Ally of the Transgender or LGBTQ+ human race. I believe that humans come in different forms and hues. I have my limitations and neither am I perfect. We are none to judge another of our kind. With this firm mindset, I have always treated them as equals, in fact, first among the equals. I will first and foremost show my solidarity with them by treating them no different. In the ultimate analysis I will support them by being one of them!!!
- Tell me something most people don’t know about you.
Except for my very close school and collegiate friends none know that I was an adventure sports person, a trained gymnast and an athlete in my younger days. But today I remain an ardent sports enthusiast and follow most sports. I am passionately encouraging my son to take up to some sporting activity. Gladly he has taken to football and is doing well. Like mother, like son.
- What do you enjoy when you’re not at work?
I seek a place which is in synchronization with nature, sit and just look far away. Just lose myself in deep thought, but thinking in particular, practicing mindfulness. I want to feel serenity and tranquility through an internalization of my energy. Odd as it may sound, that is exactly what I enjoy after I have completed my professional duties and household responsibilities.
- What is your untrainable superpower?
I am a “supermom” and was not trained to be one. I just evolved from being a wife to a “wonder-mom” that I consider myself to be. But I pride myself in being a compassionate, caring, loving and doting mother with a very zero-tolerance when it comes to discipline. As a mother I believe my son can be imperfect at home, but should hold himself out well, in public. How I managed that, I do not know, but all do know is that I was not trained to be “supermom”. At least my son believes me to be so!!
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