Katie Adastra

Current Position: Monsanto: R&D IT Product Delivery & Support, Customer Communication Lead

The R&D IT organization creates innovative software solutions for the Monsanto R&D pipeline, including lab and field applications.  My role as the Customer Communications Lead is to design and implement strategies focused on customer engagement and support.  Recently my team was nominated for an award for our work on creating the first ever self-service website to support our R&D IT software customers.

What motivated you to join BALSA in the first place?

I had great interest in investigating different career opportunities to leverage my scientific background in new ways.  I had taken a course in Entrepreneurship, which provided many opportunities to explore and joining BALSA seemed like the next step in my exploration.

What did you learn from your BALSA experience and how did that help get you to where you are today? 

I think the experience working on cross-functional teams is valuable for any career path.  For example, the projects I worked on had teams with business students, engineering students, post-docs and many different scientific backgrounds.  The exposure to this diversity strengthened my ability to communicate and work effectively with others and provided a solid experience to share during interviews.  In my current position, I work on many cross-functional teams with software developers, testers, researchers, project managers and marketing professionals. Also, BALSA honed my skills on being resourceful.  Oftentimes, particularly on new projects, you may be unfamiliar with the field or the tasks being asked of you.  I found that I learned to be much more resourceful with not only perusing the internet but also relying on connections to my network of colleagues who may have more experience or knowledge about the issue I am tackling.

What would you change about your time in graduate school and BALSA?

I don’t think I would change anything; instead I use those experiences to shape my behavior in the future.

What advice would you give to current BALSA members today? 

Network, network, network.  I can’t say this enough.  When you meet with someone, ask them to introduce you to one or two other people with similar interests, it is amazing how quickly you can build your network.  Be sure to maintain those relationships too, drop a note to your connections once in awhile.