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ISPE Communities of Practice Leaders - Dharti Pancholi

Marcy Sanford
ISPE Communities of Practice Leaders - Dharti Pancholi

Helping people, projects and companies succeed are the aspects Dharti Pancholi has enjoyed most about her career in the pharmaceutical industry. “I really like empowering people whether it is my team or my clients. It is great to bring together people who have a diverse set of experiences, skills, or perspectives, who might not normally work together, and collectively develop something, grow a company or add capabilities. I feel very fortunate to have been a catalyst.”

Dharti started her career in computer and plastics engineering but after moving to California decided to focus on chemical engineering. “I was always interested in engineering. Being from an Asian family, the mindset is, you study the major which is most difficult to get into, if your scores are good, and that's how I choose plastics engineering and the computer industry when I was in India, also because those industries were hot back then. But when I wanted to work on my master’s degree, after moving to California, I had to decide between computer or chemical engineering. My father is a doctor and I’ve always been interested in medicine and helping people. I wanted to do something where I really felt like I had a purpose and biotech-pharma had that aspect to it. What we do has a direct impact on people, and we get to impact projects that help save people’s lives.”

ISPE Communities of Practice Leaders - Dharti Pancholi

Dharti has worked in the biotech and pharmaceutical engineering industry for more than 20 years, starting her career at start-up companies like Codexis Inc., where she also had the opportunity to utilize skills from her thesis project on scale-up/down of fermentation and work with fermentation to downstream processing unit ops for recombinant proteins. She has worked on various cell culture development projects and technologies at MedImmune /AstraZeneca including seasonal and Swine Flu (pandemic). She also worked on design and CQV projects of all sizes and provided business solutions to spearhead expansion of NNE and ADVENT. Throughout her early career, she successfully led multiple biotech, vaccine, and API processes from late-stage research and development to clinical and commercial manufacturing. For the past 10 years, she has provided consulting services to many bio-pharma companies across the globe and grew several life-science consulting organizations while managing their business functions. She owns a small consulting/staffing firm of her own and is currently Executive Vice President and Global Managing Director at PharmEng.

One of the projects she is proudest of is helping to upgrade a cell culture biologics drug substance plant as owner’s rep process lead and project manager for the CCP2 RTS (Cell Culture Plant 2 Return To Start) project at Genentech, a Member of the Roche Group. The project won an ISPE Facility of the Year Award (FOYA) for Process Innovation and was the overall FOYA winner for 2016. “The facility was shut down and they wanted to quickly return it to service meeting high quality standards. There were different vendors, different companies, a lot of contractors, stakeholders from all around the world, but everybody was driving the project together. We all had a common goal, that we wanted to successfully complete the project within budget and on schedule. I really felt proud of how everyone worked together, without thinking, ‘this is my company, or this is their company.’”

Dharti has been a member of ISPE since 2012 and on the leadership team of the Disposables Community of Practice (CoP) since 2017, where she currently serves as Chair of the Steering Committee. “An ISPE Community of Practice (CoP) is a very good way to grow your network. It is a diverse group of people from everywhere, all types and sizes of companies, and different cultures – but they all share a common interest. Everyone should try to find an ISPE CoP to join. You gain and learn a lot from knowing people, no one person can tackle all the challenges in our industry by themselves, but together we can solve a lot.”

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