Thank You For Being Such A Vital Part Of Our Team, Sonali Srivastava! We Look Forward To Sharing More About You So Others Can Get To Know You Better!
Tell us a bit about your backstory and what lead you down your current life path.
Both my parents were professors of genetics in India where they dedicated about 40 years of their lives to education and research. However, despite the academic environment at home, amid many political upheavals and instability, I moved out of the state to pursue an education. I received a full academic and residential scholarship to complete high school in England and subsequently received my undergraduate and graduate diplomas in India. It was clear that education was going to set me free to pursue my passion in the STEM field. In the 1980s and 1990s, it was uncommon for girls to study chemistry, physics, or mathematics. With monumental support from my parents and teachers, I followed my dream by majoring in chemistry and minoring in physics and mathematics. After completing my Master’s in Chemistry, I moved to the United States, where I pursued a doctorate in law, JD. I have been a practicing intellectual property lawyer since 2000, and I am deeply committed to education as a conduit to enabling all dreams. As a legal professional, I am also dedicated to giving back through pro bono work and work for non-for-profit organizations, where I contribute via numerous boards and have helped found two organizations.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career?
I derive my inspiration from many life events. When I was six years old, I lost my older sister to cancer and by 38, I lost both my parents to cancer as well. I was determined, as never before, to use my knowledge of chemistry to help in bringing innovative medicine to patients. Growing up, I was fascinated by the sciences. With law school, I was able to combine my scientific and legal pursuits by becoming an intellectual property lawyer. As a patent lawyer, I interact with cutting-edge chemistry/biochemistry and help in protecting new and useful pharmaceutical inventions to positively impact the lives of patients.
What is one thing you are proud of achieving in your life?
I am proud of living in the intersectionality of being an intellectual property professional, a first-generation immigrant, and a mother of two passionate children, who are finding ways to give back to the community despite the pandemic.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I love playing the Indian classical drums, the Tabla, which I started learning about 39 years ago! As a family, we love to travel across other states and countries. I also find meaningful opportunities to give back to the community through pro bono legal work and non-for-profit work.
Is there something exciting you are working on now? What is it and why did you choose to start it?
I work on numerous collaborations, licenses, acquisitions, and merger transactions for AbbVie Inc., which keeps me very excited and busy. Sometimes, it means I am working with entities in Asia and Europe, across various time zones, which can be taxing and exciting at the same time. I recently concluded two transactions to bring potential new pipeline treatment options for COVID-19 and neurodegenerative/neuropsychiatric diseases. When I am not working as a lawyer, I study music, and in turn, teach music to students, which allows me to pass on an old classical Indian drumming tradition to the next generation. I am currently working on a music theory book for Indian classical drums.
Share one professional development goal and one personal goal you have for the upcoming year.
One of my professional goals (which also happens to be my personal goal) is to become a better ally. Especially after seeing the country divide along political and social viewpoints following the recent social justice movement, I would like to understand with greater empathy how to be an ally and to make my local community more tolerant and more equitable. To work on my professional and personal goals, I have been leading mentoring circles that support diverse and inclusive attorneys, as well as members who identify with the Women Leadership in Action, Asian Leadership Network, and the PRIDE employee resource groups.
The road to success is difficult and requires tremendous dedication. What advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
Set a dream and follow through with persistence and resilience. Dreams come true when you work hard to achieve them. Excel through your strengths and work harder on your weaknesses. Calibrate and recalibrate when you miss your goal. Just do not stop believing in yourself.
Please share your favorite Life Lesson quote. How is it relevant to your life?
“There is no shortcut to hard work.” Deciding to leave home as a young teenager and pursuing my dream could have faltered many times over. There were so many reasons to pause. However, through inspiration especially from my parents, family, and teachers, and with sweat, persistence, and hard work, the journey was possible.
Why did you choose to be a Board Member of Educate. Radiate. Elevate.?
I chose to join E.R.E. because I strongly believe in its mission. Educational opportunity gaps can prevent a child from reaching their full potential. Every child who can get help through tutors, without increasing financial burdens, will grow in their academic confidence, and will likely succeed in setting goals and accomplishing them, including attending higher academic institutions.
What about the Educate. Radiate. Elevate.’s Purpose, Mission, and Core Values speaks most to you and why?
Education has the potential to change life trajectories. Meaningful and equitable tutoring support services can assist students in their educational journeys and eventually elevate them to becoming positive role models and contributing members of our society. I strongly believe that education can set you free. That has been my personal experience and a reflection of my journey from a small town in India to being a first-generation immigrant and an intellectual property lawyer.