Florentin Scarlat Finds Both Career Opportunities and Community at Gilead
Senior Director, Liver & COVID-19 Therapeutic Area Lead
Government Affairs & Policy
Location: Foster City, CA
Joined Gilead: March 2020
In his role in our Government Affairs & Policy department, Florentin Scarlat is part of a team that interfaces with government institutions, policymakers and health officials to help improve access to Gilead’s innovative medicines. Read why this calling led him to join Gilead and relocate from France to California.
Q: What drew you to your field and how did you come to work at Gilead?
From an early age, I was always interested in the fields of government and public affairs and pursued this as a career. During my 20 years in government affairs and 10 years in the life sciences industry, I acquired a lot of experience and expertise in inflammation, immunology and hepatitis C virus (HCV), which overlapped well when looking for a role at Gilead. I joined the company in March 2020 in a role supporting our inflammation therapeutic area, before transitioning to our COVID-19 team in August 2020. A year later, I was appointed to my current role as the Therapeutic Area Lead for Liver and COVID-19 and relocated from Paris to Gilead’s global headquarters in Foster City, CA.
Ultimately I ended up at Gilead for a couple of reasons: first, because of my background in political science and public policy; and second, because I believe healthcare systems represent the cross section between science and public policies. It’s never enough to just provide innovative medicines. To truly address unmet medical needs, we must make sure that we help increase timely access to these medicines for the people who need them by advancing innovative policy solutions. Gilead has demonstrated over the years that it shares this belief.
Q: Why did you choose Gilead?
The decision had to do with many things, and I’ll attempt to describe them in order of importance for me. First and foremost, I was excited to join our incredible Government Affairs team. I had the chance to meet many team members throughout the interview process and decided I wanted to be their colleague.
In addition, I was inspired by how Gilead’s work has made a significant difference in people’s lives, particularly those living with HIV and HCV. Developing curative therapies for a disease such as HCV is not a small thing. Although I spent many years in France, I’m originally from Romania – a country with a high prevalence of HCV – and I have family members who died of this disease. Even now, my aunt cannot talk about HCV, which made her a widow.
Third, I was impressed by the culture of inclusion, which makes you feel welcome and provides a sense of belonging that you feel throughout the company. It’s amazing.
Q: How would you describe the company’s culture?
Gilead is the most inclusive company I have ever been part of. It’s a place where people can be who they are without having to hide or pretend to be someone else because of stigma or societal pressure.
In my experience, the executive leadership at Gilead is also very approachable, which is something that you don’t really see everywhere.
Almost all my colleagues here are people I’d call my friends, so it’s more than a job – it’s like a family or, better yet, a community. It impacts both your professional and personal life. I like sharing with my team what I like and who I am. For example, I’m a self-trained pastry chef and I was proud to share this passion and part of my culture with my colleagues at our annual Legal and Corporate Affairs baking contest. I won first prize with the “Equinox,” a cake created by two famous Parisian chefs.
Q: Tell us about your most memorable day at Gilead. What made it special?
When I joined the first meeting of the COVID-19 team. I was in awe, as I was now working with people who I considered to be making history by providing the first approved antiviral for COVID-19. It was remarkable to see the dedication and speed with which the team worked. I was still based in Europe and it was late my time, but it felt so important to me. I mostly listened and tried to understand what was going on – and boy, there was a lot going on. At the time, the team had not been together for long, but it felt to me that they knew each other forever. This is how I feel now being part of that team.
I still often think about that day. I can even remember what I was wearing.
Q: How would you describe the opportunities for career growth at Gilead?
This is already my third role since I joined the company in 2020, so I think that speaks for itself. Of course, it’s important to focus on what development means to you and discuss how to achieve that with your manager. But if you’re flexible, open to new opportunities and willing to take on additional responsibilities, Gilead is definitely a place where there are countless possibilities for career growth.
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