Stefanella Bortini
“Facing Challenges W
ith Passion”

German-Swiss and Italian blood runs through Stefanella Bortini’s veins as she’s certain that this mix determined a different approach to life: she grew up believing that “working is essential” and the economic freedom equals life freedom. Along the years, she considers, working in the corporate world taught her the tough way that we all are interdependent, and her independent spirit had to adapt to this context. Stefanella is now a global leader in Labcorp Clinical Development Services, governed by the motivation to improve the lives of persons suffering from cancer. Courage and continuous interest in new challenges contributed to the success she registers today.

After the humanistic high school, she received her degree in medicine at Florence University, followed by 6 years in the US pursuing her passion in science. She gained a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University and the ECFMG Medical Certification allowing her to join an internship in the US. She followed her heart, and her desire to return to Italy prevailed over her dream to become a surgeon in New York. Back to Florence, looking for a way to support herself, she chose to work for Eli Lilly for what she thought it would be a short period. 30 years after, she made a career leading project in clinical research. She chose the oncological field of the research as she found a strong motivation for her efforts: “you do good, you make a big difference in a person’s life”.

Freelance for several years, she spent other years setting-up an entire Contract Research Organisation affiliate in Italy, few years managing projects in Spain and ultimately, in the last 16 years, in Rome: this is just a summary of the long experience she accumulated. A Senior Medical Director, she now has such a level of expertise that she can choose the projects she works on, like for example, vaccines against cancer and other immunotherapy trials.

Prone to disruptive changes, at the peak of her career, Stefanella has now decided to retire prematurely and focus on the love of her life: travelling.

Seeing Stefanella, I feel immediately that I have in front of me a strong and accomplished women, certain of her achievements and curious of what she will find on her path next. Apart from the different exposure that she received from her non-Italian mom, Stefanella is convinced that the years spent in the US instilled in her the skills she carried on her entire career: “dare taking (good) decisions, have the courage to make radical changes as you will always find a solution”. I will add, as she’s a great example: focus on getting a good education.

Asked for her definition of a successful woman, here is what Stefanella answered:

A successful woman is not the one trying to do the job of a man, but the one that builds a career in what she’s passioned about, while also building a family.

As I saw what a great mentor she would be, I asked Stefanella her advice to the young girls of today. Her ideas sprang out as if she was just waiting the question: “dare study STEM if you’re passionate about it”. “Decide and study to become whatever you are passionate about: a doctor, biologist, engineer, a musician or an artist, and don’t choose it for money or for status”. Some other advice she has is to “study languages, go abroad and outside of your comfort zone, doubt yourself “.

She joined PWA Rome as she likes social gatherings and likes it for the diversity of the women that are part of it, all with different and interesting backgrounds and for the friendly atmosphere one breathes from day one.

Written by: Mirela Cojocaru

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