Saisree Cherukuri
Saisree Cherukuri
Central Monitoring Associate

I started my journey as a small-town girl in South East India. My family wished I would continue the legacy and become an engineer. However, I wanted to go into life sciences and chose pharma, as it was affordable and I could still make a difference in people’s lives. After pursuing my bachelor’s in pharmacy and qualifying as a pharmacist, I aspired to study abroad for my graduate degree in London. It wasn’t an easy decision for my parents to send their only child to a different country, especially given how expensive the education was. But, beating all the odds, I got a master’s degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Kingston University.

It opened a world of new opportunities for me. I learned how to be independent. Not only did I survive but I thrived in London, a completely new place to me. I interned for my professor and moved on to work as a quality control analyst for a big pharma company that specialized in generics. I really wanted to make a direct impact on people’s lives with my work, so I joined PRA which specializes in clinical research. I joined as an in-house Clinical Research Associate (CRA) in 2012 in the London/Heathrow office, and my colleagues at PRA supported and guided me through my transition into my new role. My colleagues and management were always supportive and inclusive. The PRA-LHR office is like a second family—they even celebrated traditional festivals with me, such as Diwali.

At PRA, I was given an opportunity to train for a CRA program. Upon completion, I became a bridge CRA, and later gained experience and got promoted to CRA-1. PRA played a major role in my journey from 2012 and continues to today. I was also fortunate to have another opportunity to move from the UK to the US and further grow my career as a CRA-2.

Settling in a new place and starting a family on top of being a CRA wasn’t an easy task for me, but the extensive support I received from my colleagues at PRA and my family kept me going. Gaining and sharing experiences and information from my fellow CRAs helped me to be a “Travel-Ready CRA.”

I've been very fortunate to work and collaborate with people of various backgrounds who were generous with their time and shared their vast knowledge with me. That learning experience shaped me as a better person and a mentor for new employees. Together by sharing knowledge and experiences with one another, we create a culture of unity in diversity.

I have to narrate an incident here to show the amount of support I received. One time I told my manager at PRA that I couldn’t make it to the PharmaTimes Clinical Research of the Year awards ceremony as a finalist because I couldn’t find someone to babysit my daughter. My SVP called me to say that she would be happy to babysit while I attended the ceremony. I was moved by the gesture. I think this culture of going above and beyond and the willingness to help is what makes PRA successful. I was able to find alternatives and attended the ceremony, but I was really moved by her willingness to help me.

While working and traveling, I noticed that I’m one of the very few brown women pursuing a career as a CRA. The same goes for any meetings, conferences, and competitions that I had a chance to attend. It only motivated me to progress and lend a helping hand to others. At PRA, we have a HI*PRA framework which provides us with principles to drive our success as an individual and collectively as a company. I’m drawn to the guiding principles of HI*PRA and I think those principles are very useful in building and accomplishing things I do every day.

I feel the internal chatter groups within the company provide support and a safe space for employees to open up and discuss their amazing journeys and thoughts. Some of the groups I’m involved in are brilliant, such as the Black Asian Minority Ethnic group (BAME), BAME @PRA, LGBTQ @PRA, PACE, Women’s Network, and the Mindfulness Group. All these groups and many more within the company help us to lean into each other, learn, collaborate, and foster growth.

While I originally began working at PRA in the US as a CRA, PRA adjusted with me to fit my lifestyle needs as a mom after having children. I was also given a chance to explore different roles within the company. The flexibility, opportunity, and growth that PRA has provided me through all these years helped a small-town girl to dream big!

I currently work as a Central Monitoring Associate (CMA) based out of Albuquerque, NM. My elder daughter looks at me as a working mother juggling various things—these days the thought that she looks up to me motivates me to do even better.

I’m so glad to be a part of this amazing company, where I’m given the chance to learn, grow, and excel, and also encouraged to share my knowledge. I look forward to learning and growing more with PRA!

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