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Women In Medtech: Swetha Chinnayelka

Careers for for the head and heart

Meet women who are changing lives at LivaNova

Swetha Chinnayelka is a Senior Program Manager at LivaNova. Her responsibilities include overseeing the planning, execution and tracking of projects in the Neuromodulation Business Unit. She’s been with the company since February 2018.


Q: What made you pursue engineering as a career choice?

A: As a kid, I was always interested in biology and math as core subjects. I selected those, but the most important factor was the support I received from my family. I wouldn’t have earned an undergraduate degree, master's and then a Ph.D. without their support.

Swetha Chinnayelka

Q: Please tell us a little bit about your career path and what led you to LivaNova.

A: After my Ph.D., I focused on research and technology. My first job was at a Fortune 500 company as a research engineer doing advanced technology. I feel lucky to have had the job because it opened my eyes to what else I could do. I saw my colleagues doing product development. That made me curious and say to myself, "I don't want to be here, but I want to get there.” My next step became clear, and I landed as a product development engineer. Eventually, I led the team. Five to six years into product development, I said, “I'm ready for a bigger challenge.” That's how I got into my program manager role here. I’m responsible for the whole project ─ from product definition to launch, and sometimes beyond that, too.

Q: Is there a woman who mentored or inspired you throughout your career?

A: Her name was Carol Reno, and she was the senior person at my first job. I would say she has been more of an inspiration than a mentor throughout my career. When I worked with her, I was curious about what she did. I wanted to get to her level someday, but I didn't know how. When I had a chance to select a mentor, I chose her and had an initial chat. Over time, we drifted; she moved along with her career, and I left the company. But, her position and how to get there remained on my mind. Going into product development helped me when I got this role as a Senior Program Manager at LivaNova. She had the same title back when I looked up to her and said, "I want to get there one day." 


Q: What inspires you to do this work?

Q: What advice would you give to women engineers who are entering the workforce?

A: Don't be afraid to challenge yourself. That's what I wish I had done for myself sooner. I waited for more than a year to go find my next job, but I'm at least glad that I took that step and went in the direction I wanted to go. So, I want to underline and bold that – challenge yourself.


Q: Why would you encourage other women in medtech to come work for LivaNova?

A: My experience here has been wonderful; it’s a very encouraging environment. It's been challenging, but highly rewarding. It has a wide variety of opportunities. Whether you take on a role or want to do something else, there are pathways within the organization for you to explore to get there. To me, that’s big. On top of that, there is the “Women’s Network,” where you’re tagged with a mentor. It opens the opportunity to ask questions like, "I want to go talk to that manager about this new position, but I'm hesitant." That’s the advice you can get from a senior person. Having this supportive network is wonderful.


Q: Can you share with us a little-known fact about yourself?

A: During my first job and while pursuing my doctorate degree, I was a lab rat for almost nine years. My role at LivaNova is so different and demands a completely different skillset from what I learned in school.


This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

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