Meet Raj from Roche Diagnostics Information Solutions

My quest at Roche:

Build software products that help physicians make more informed clinical decisions

What inspires you?

For a patient, every moment counts! Once a patient has been diagnosed with a disease like cancer, it is a fight against time – the idea of helping to make a difference in their lives inspires me and brings a sense of urgency to my everyday work.  
Technology in healthcare (Health IT) has had a crucial role in helping physicians make more informed decisions in medicine.  I am inspired by healthcare innovation through the application of technology and data.   

My connection to our purpose:

I lost my mom to cancer 20 years ago – she passed away at the age of 44 within 7 months after the initial diagnosis and three rounds of chemotherapy.  
Six months after joining Genentech in 2007, I went to a townhall and heard a patient talk about her fight against cancer.  That’s when I felt connected to my purpose at work – the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of patients similar to my mom.

Shaping the future of Personalised Healthcare (PHC):

I need a new challenge every three years or so and  I was ready for a new challenge in the Fall of 2016.  I heard about our efforts to make personalised healthcare (PHC) a reality within the vast Roche global network and decided that I wanted to participate in this effort somehow. 
In my opinion, we are only at the beginning of an amazing journey of how technology will transform healthcare as we know it. Think of how companies like Netflix, Apple, Amazon, and Uber transformed their respective industries.  They  focused on the consumer experience and now think about “personalised” healthcare. We are making new inroads everyday through innovation and this industry will transform in the coming years.  
We use all kinds of latest and innovative technologies:  cloud, big data, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence tools.  I work with an amazing group of talented individuals who also share my passion for innovative healthcare.  We are also grateful to collaborate with industry pioneers, leading scientists, and engineers in the field of healthcare at Roche. We are a very diverse group of individuals with different types of education and experiences. Together we work on meaningful projects impactful to our society.  Since that Town Hall many years ago at Genentech, I can’t imagine myself working at a non-healthcare company.  
We need software developers who enjoy being at the intersection of science and technology and are passionate about developing innovative Health IT products. 

My story:

I am a software engineer with a masters in software engineering.  I joined Roche 10 years ago – through Genentech in 2007 - to develop IT solutions and products and I’ve seen it as a great career move ever since.  In November 2016, I had an opportunity to take a new role as the head of the Software Center of Excellence to work on Personalised Healthcare.  I report to someone who has an MD and a PHD.
It’s cool to work at Roche.  I could be working anywhere in the Silicon Valley yet here I am making a profound difference in the healthcare that patients receive. We work on cutting-edge technologies on an every day basis.  There is always a new challenge and we are impatient to solve them because patients are waiting.  If there is any problem, it is that we want to address the challenges all at once.  

Key moments in my career journey (or how I got here):

Brave moments:  We took many calculated risks such as being first in the pharmaceutical industry to adopt cloud-based technologies like CRM software, Gmail, mobile devices, etc. Applications based on these innovative technologies helped Genentech (now a member of the Roche Group) maintain competitive advantage.
Led by science moments:  We always applied technology to solve business problems mostly driven by science. For example, our sales specialists needed the help of medical science experts to answer a variety of questions from health care professionals regarding the safe and effective use of our products.  We built a solution to help find an available expert on-demand and start a video call to help answer the scientific questions accurately and immediately.
Empathy moments: Roche/Genentech in the US has been listed as a great place to work for 17 years in a row. We practice empathy everyday towards our colleagues and customers. We have an amazing culture where we invite patient speakers to our events. I heard patients  share several stories and felt  their gratitude towards our company for developing such life-saving medicines and diagnostic tests. This experience evoked deep empathy within me towards them and also towards our colleagues because they work very hard to solve some of the most serious unmet medical needs.
Open-minded moments:  During my high school days in India, I worked very hard to get admitted in to a medical college. When the results arrived, I was hugely disappointed to find that I was not on the merit list for medical college admissions. I was, however, on the merit list for admission to an engineering college. I grabbed the opportunity with an open mind and I have never looked back…and now I can to combine both of my passions at work.
Lasting:  One of my first contributions at Genentech/Roche was to develop a new architectural design and technology landscape (called Commercial Blueprint) to meet the growing business needs of potential new product launches. Our key challenge was that we needed 6-12 months to enable all IT systems for a new product launch after the FDA approval at that time.  After the implementation of the Blueprint roadmap, all commercial IT systems are enabled within 24 hours after FDA approves a new medicine – this is still considered a very high benchmark amongst the pharmaceutical industry peers.  

My advice for engineers (software, IT, project):

As a software-professional in the Silicon Valley, you could work for any software company. Our mission is “Doing now what patients need next”. We work on solving complex problems and innovating personalised healthcare. So if you are passionate about engaging in meaningful work, solving unmet medical needs, and helping patients, we may have a place for you. 

Tags: Meet our people, Software Development, Code4Life