Women in Spine Series: Aviva, Commercial Information Technology

In honor of International Women’s Day coming up on March 8, we’re dedicating a special series for some of our female leaders at NuVasive. What is International Women’s Day (IWD)? It is a global day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women all over. In addition, IWD marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Internationally, purple is a color for symbolizing women, signifying justice and dignity. At NuVasive, our mission is to paint the world purple and continue to change as many patient lives as possible. Pairing the two purples together, we hope NUVA can help drive the movement to increase unity, advocacy, and action in our society.

Featuring our next #WomenInSpine, Aviva, Vice President of Commercial Information Technology:

What woman inspires you and why? 

I am lucky to come from a line of bright, curious, and intrepid women. My grandmother was a biochemist in a lab at a time when women rarely had professions outside of teaching and office administration. Her lab developed a technique for isolating specific hormones that led to the commercial development of today’s serotonin re-uptake inhibitors like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, etc. She was published in over 50 scientific papers and the doctor she worked under won the Nobel Prize for work based on this research. Following that, my mother was a chemist that went on to be one the first women awarded a PhD in Neuroscience and BioMedical at Stanford. Her research around stress and cardiology is still leveraged today!

They were never out to prove anything – they simply found a way to pursue what they loved, what they were good at and what could make an impact to people and society.


What advice would you give to other female professionals in Information Technology? 

Work hard, work smart, and try to be fearless. Recently my team read a book on the “Ideal Team Player” by Pat Lencioni and one part in particular resonated with me: being hungry. People who are hungry are always figuring out how to do more, how to learn more, and how to grow. We are lucky enough to live in a time where we are often the only ones holding ourselves back. I don’t think it means working all the time or sacrificing time with your family or other activities for work. For me, it means making sure you are making the most out of anything you take the time to do.

What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership? 

Second guessing yourself. When I was in college, if a female friend got a bad grade on an exam, she would seem to internalize it and question whether she belonged or whether she was smart enough. If my male friends got a bad grade, they would take it as a challenge and just keep going. Failing at something doesn’t mean you are a failure. It means you have something to learn and a way to grow. One of my favorite proverbs is “fall down seven times, get up eight.” That is the barrier to overcome, to learn from things that don’t go well and just keep going.

How do you think the female perspective benefits our company’s mission of changing patient lives? 

When you bring in anyone from a different background, you invite a way to enrich and enliven a conversation. Spine surgery is a male dominated field, so women might be able to bring an approach from a different perspective or a new way to problem-solve altogether. They might be able to invite different ways of collaborating within our company or with our health care practitioner partners.

What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you? 

I think there are challenges for both men and women in today’s landscape. I believe the best ideas are the ones that survive constructive debate and we have to enable an environment that encourages that. That means not being afraid to voice an opinion, but also not being afraid if someone challenges your idea. It also means helping those around you to make sure their voices are heard. It is easy to believe our world is getting more and more polarized, whether it is in our political landscape or in the office. I think the challenge will be to make sure you aren’t keeping yourself in a bubble. You have to stay willing to refresh your thinking by listening to people who might have different ideas than you.

To learn more about International Women’s Day and how you can get involved, click here.

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