Tawni Koutchesfahani is an accomplished operations leader in the medical device and biotech sector. Currently, she is the Senior Director, Contract Manufacturing of Drug Product at Catalyst Biosciences. From 2016-2018, Tawni was the Director of Supply Chain, and Manufacturing Strategy at Relpysa (acquired by Vifor Pharma), working closely with Relypsa’s global contract manufacturing sites. Prior to joining Relypsa, Tawni was a key manufacturing leader within the Baxalta (spin‐off as a public company from Baxter) manufacturing network for its BioScience division as well as Baxter’s BioSurgery division since 2009. Tawni earned an M.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
WITH GROUPS CREATING PROGRAMS TO ENCOURAGE FEMALES TO CONSIDER STEM, WHAT IS THE BIGGEST BARRIER TO ENTRY THAT IS STILL PREVALENT TODAY?
It comes down to bias. There are still biases out there in the work force. I am defining bias in a way where some people are still coming to the work force with the thought, or bias that your male counterpart will do a better job, simply because he is a male. We have to realize that we have work ahead of us to influence the entire population out there that believes in the equity of women and men. Our biggest barrier is the biases that still exist in the work force. Until we can turn this over, there will still be people in the work force that carrier bias against a female based on her gender.
WHAT OR WHO INSPIRES YOU?
My Mom. She came to this country with broken English, but with a BIG dream, and an open heart to start her own business. Without a formal education, she started her business. She taught me that it doesn't matter where you go to school, but it matters how you push yourself, and carrying your focus, regardless in who believes in you. She taught me to shut the noise off, and know that you won't have everyone supporting your dreams, but you need to be your own number 1 cheerleader, who believes in herself, and her own dreams.
WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT/ACCOMPLISHMENT?
I think my answer will surprise people, but graduating from college was the most gratifying moment, more so than graduate school, or being in the best roles at work. College pushed me, and it shaped me. It shaped me in a positive way. I graduated with my class that was 50% smaller than the first day of the program. There were so many sleepless nights in the lab, working on many different assignments at the same time, working in the lab to gain experience, and trying to address extreme challenges on topics that were complex in nature. This really helped me design my mind on how to tackle issues in my professional and personal life, and I am so grateful for the school experience. Go Gauchos!