Throughout her career, Ferolyn Fellow Anura Patil has sought to solve large problems that deeply impact people’s lives, by addressing the technical and commercial challenges that are bound to arise. An advocate of diverse and cross-functional teams, she has also focused on developing strong communities of women at her workplace and school. Today she is bringing that passion and skillset to Tueo Health as COO, a position she found as a result of relationships built through the Ferolyn Fellowship.
Science and community come together
Anura’s parents were polymer chemists, and their lab became her playground when she was just a toddler. Beakers and computers were her toys, and science was a source of fascination. But it wasn’t until her high school participation with the Model United Nations and Youth in Government – escalating from local and state levels to eventually run the national conference — that she realized her real passion was in bringing together a group of like-minded people to debate, learn from each other and then frame out mutually beneficial solutions. She enjoyed the technical aspect of solving problems, but found more joy in finding the right resources, creating the environment for compromise and synthesizing an implementable solution.
While attending Tufts University and pursuing a degree in chemical engineering with a focus in biotechnology, she saw that technology could only be adopted if developed with an understanding of the broader system. She thus became the first engineer to participate in the International Relations Institute and plan an international relations symposium. In addition, she was an informal student ambassador to the administration, helping to shape the academic program.
Her university experience and understanding of the dependencies between health, economics and society led her to a role at Johnson & Johnson. During her four-year tenure at the company, she held a number of technical positions in R&D, operations and quality and had the opportunity to work in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medical devices; in manufacturing plants, R&D facilities and pilot plants; and on global launch teams, in all stages of the product life cycle. These varied roles provided a solid understanding of how to bring a product to market, and also gave her the opportunity to collaborate with diverse teams locally and globally. She also helped run the local branch of the Women’s Leadership Initiative and developed a small peer mentoring program.
It was at Harvard Business School that her passion for solving big problems and her drive to build communities around solving those problems came together in the co-founding of a company bringing vaccines to developing markets. She further developed her business strategy expertise when she joined McKinsey & Company.
To learn more about developing and implementing commercial strategy in medical devices, Anura left the consulting field and became the marketing manager for Nevro Corp., creator of HF10™, an innovative, evidence-based treatment for chronic pain. She later joined Ceterix Orthopaedics, a company that enables surgeons to repair the 90 percent of meniscal tears that were previously deemed irreparable. There she had progressive responsibility helping with virtually everything involved in building the commercial organization – from upstream and downstream marketing and sales training to fundraising, rising to the position of director of marketing.
Earlier this year, Anura took a sabbatical to explore ideas for how she could best utilize her skills to make a significant impact in the healthcare field and reaffirm what drives her.
She spent a month in South Africa, where she collaborated with a local team on a health guide accessible by mobile phone that supports low-income patients as they seek to manage suspected or newly diagnosed HIV.
“It was eye-opening to experience first- hand the advantages that digital health can bring to patients if they are able to access the right information at the right time,” she says.
She finished the sabbatical with a rugged journey through Namibia and Botswana. Her experiences camping with lions, digging the car out of sand and getting baboons out of the car inspired her to start a blog to share with a community of travelers.
Anura is currently the COO at Tueo Health, which was founded by Ferolyn Fellow Bronwyn Harris. In this position, she is responsible for business model development and commercial and operations strategy for the digital health product and service. She is excited to bring her product development, commercialization and teambuilding experience to the company.
Anura applied for the Ferolyn Fellowship to become part of a vibrant community of innovators. Her goal was to learn, connect and eventually create a path that would allow her to give back to the community.
“When you have your head down focusing on one company, it is easy to lose perspective of your surrounding environment,” she noted. “The Fellowship exposed me to new ideas and ways of thinking, and the mentoring was invaluable to learn from seasoned experts about their career successes and challenges.”
The relationships Anura built have been transformational. She feels fortunate that Liz McDermott, her assigned mentor and co-founder of the Fellowship, was so passionate about the program and industry that she was able to help inspire Anura’s personal development. She has loved the brunches, walks, dinners and brainstorming sessions with Bronwyn and Shreya Mehta, the two other current Fellows as well as building relationships with last year’s Fellows Kate Garrett, Matt McLean and Julia Fox.
“The program gives you a space where you can explore your career options,” she said. “The mentors and others whom I met through the Fellowship have been tremendously open and helpful in sharing their own personal experience as a way to help guide me in the right direction for my future endeavors.”