Meet the team behind c4c! We are a diverse group of people from many different backgrounds, but all of us are working towards a common goal: better medicines for children through European clinical trials.
Today’s spotlight is on Sofia Jacob, who oversees multiple activities within c4c to ensure they are completed in time. Sofia specifically focuses on making c4c successful in the long-term.
Originally from Argentina, Sofia has travelled the world, living in Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands before moving to Belgium in 2015. She has been taking on different roles in the life sciences sector in these countries, initially working as a researcher and now as a project manager. Currently, she is working at Janssen Pharmaceutica as a Program Management Leader in the ExPoint team, within the Janssen Project Management Office (PMO). The ExPoint team ensures the integration and execution of public-private partnerships of externally funded projects such as c4c. “Having a centralized office focusing on this type of partnership allow us to provide expert & high-quality support – I can count on many colleagues who are working on other projects for support and advice” says Sofia, who is supporting the c4c project full-time from Janssen’s side.
Focus on the ‘bigger picture’
Sofia has a background in neuroscience research – examining the brain and nervous system – and has obtained a PhD in this field. However, she switched to project management two and a half years ago. “While working on my PhD, I realised that the aspect of a project that I enjoyed the most was the ‘bigger picture’. I liked understanding how my research fitted within the scientific field, dealing with overall organisational aspects, and putting the pieces of the puzzle together, which are largely project management tasks.”
“Not only do I enjoy these aspects the most, but I also feel that in this role I can make the biggest difference. I can apply my organisational and communication skills to ensure that projects lead to practical results,” says Sofia. “This is how I think I can offer the most help to improve our public health sector and thus our society. And in the specific case of c4c: to support the development of better medicines for children and in this way improve their future.
Having all voices heard
Sofia is part of the c4c PMO team supporting multiple work packages, including the development of a business plan and sustainability of the network post the European funding, the scientific advice service, and data coordinating centre and data quality standards. She is also part of the team supporting legal requests concerning the overall project. “On a day-to-day basis, my job is all about keeping the project moving forward in an organised way, for example by keeping a record of meetings, agreements and decisions. This way, we can always efficiently determine which actions to take next to achieve our goals.”
Sofia is also helping to ensure that the voices of all partner organisations are heard. “This isn’t always easy in a project with more than 45 partners from very diverse cultural backgrounds,” she says with a smile. “And it’s not only about managing the cultural diversity. You also need to consider what drives people and how their point of view might be different from others. To make the project a success, having great individuals is not enough, you also need to have a great team. This means my job is about more than practical organisation, it also requires excellent people skills”
Moving forward, with everybody on board
Much of Sofia’s work focuses on making sure that the c4c initiative lives on when the European funding for the current project ends. “We have now passed the halfway mark of the IMI funding for the c4c project and have entered a critical phase. A lot will happen in the next three years,” she says. “We are investigating how the c4c network is functioning at the moment and how to move forward to set up the successor organisation.”
For this purpose, Sofia explains that recently she helped to organize a number of workshops in which different partners could help define the different aspects to consider for the successor organization. “These workshops were very useful to understand clearly how to move forward, with everybody on board.”
“I cannot wait to see how c4c will continue to grow – I am very happy to be part of such a great team in a project with very strong ambitions that can make a difference in children’s lives,” Sofia says with enthusiasm.