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Dr Tina Soulis – CEO of niche not-for-profit CRO, Neuroscience Trials Australia

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Dr Tina Soulis – CEO of niche not-for-profit CRO, Neuroscience Trials Australia

Tina

Tina is currently CEO of Neuroscience Trials Australia and has over 25 years of experience in the pharma and biotech industry. She also trained as a medical researcher until she found her calling in the clinical trials space.

One of Tina’s greatest successes she says, ‘has been the relaunch, growth and expansion of Neuroscience Trials Australia.’ Tina has successfully turned the CRO around, transforming it into a very profitable business. In fact, the niche CRO averages 39% growth in revenue annually. Tina explains, ‘fundamentally, it has been due to hard work – nothing happens without that and having a clear strong vision with a plan is paramount. Sticking to what you are good at is vital to fulfilling that vision.’ She adds ‘the vision is probably the most important – developing one that involves a point of difference and for us, it has been our unique specialty and our connections to the neurology world.’

One of the drivers of her success is the fact that she loves most things about her job, from the variety to the autonomy to her exceptional team. One of Tina’s other loves in her role is mentoring, which she does both formally, with various industry mentor schemes, as well as informally. The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health (The Florey) mentor scheme is one formal mentoring scheme she has been a part of for over 4 years. Tina says, ‘there is rarely a week that passes without me having a cup of coffee to provide advice or career guidance. It is such a privilege.’

Neuroscience Trials Australia staff are predominately women, in fact, it’s a 9:1 ratio. Tina explains that this was never deliberate but clarifies ‘by facilitating a work-life balance through offering part-time roles, flexible working hours and the option of working from home just seems to attract more women. It’s as simple as that.’ Her advice to women wanting to advance their science careers is to ‘don’t be scared to talk, email, phone and actively seek out advice from other people – be open to learning and doing things differently – remember, I too was once where you are.’

On that note, we asked Tina for one piece of advice she would give to her younger self. She said, ‘be kinder to yourself and believe you can do it!’ Tina goes on, ‘there is one piece of simple advice from a former manager that I have valued- there are no two studies that are the same, there are no two clients that are the same and you need to have patience.’ Tina says she is much better at being patient these days and she has also learned to ‘trust my gut instinct.’ As a leader, she says there is one thing she has been very deliberate to develop and one she has found to be powerful and rewarding, ‘I consciously practice demonstrating my confidence in my staff.’ She explains, ‘showing your trust in your staff empowers them to get on with delivering projects on time and on budget, knowing they are fully supported and have my full endorsement.’ She goes on, ‘I am constantly in awe of the calibre of people in our organisation, who often go above and beyond the call of duty to make a deadline or help someone else.’

One thing Tina is also keen to mention is the credit due to her husband, family and mentors for her success. She says, ‘I would not be who I am and be where I am without the loving support of my family- even when I am not nice to live with when stress gets the better of me! I would not be in this position without people that believed in me and supported me to succeed.’

Outside of work and family, Tina loves to read, cook and travel. Most of her staff know that she does not drink coffee and doesn’t like to exercise, even though she knows she should, but what they don’t know is that she can sing the Hawaii-5-0 theme song in Greek! She can also sew and design her own patterns! We are exceptionally lucky to have a forward-thinking, open-minded and remarkably dedicated woman to lead the organisation to a bright future where it can make a real impact in the world of medicine.