In this week’s blog, we’d like to introduce you to Sophie Costello, Director and CEO of Costello Medical, and one of our two newly appointed Trustees!
Hi Sophie, what made you decide to become a trustee?
I have been aware of Findacure and the charity’s great work for some time due to your collaboration with Costello Medical, the company I founded in 2008 and continue to run.
The work Costello Medical does is all centred around trying to improve outcomes for patients, through the identification, analysis and communication of scientific data and we have increasingly been working in rare disease.
Coupled with this professional interest, experience in my personal life, when my brother suffered a severe brain injury, gave me direct exposure to the huge impact health can have across a family. The belief in the power of effective healthcare and the transformational impact it can have on people’s lives was one of the reasons we founded Costello Medical.
I would very much like to be able to contribute to the health care arena more broadly than through the work done by Costello Medical. I see the opportunity to be part of the Trustee team at Findacure as a way to make this contribution and that perhaps my technical background, coupled with my first-hand and ongoing experience of growing an organisation from the ground will mean I can help the charity achieve its ambitious aims.
How do you think you can help Findacure?
I feel my experience in growing an organization from a team of 2 (myself and my husband) in 2008 to a much larger entity (with currently over 160 people in 5 offices in 3 countries) could bring something to Findacure. Much like Findacure, Costello Medical was started in Cambridge, and built from the ground up through the controlled addition of staff as demand for our services increased. My experience in developing an organisation is broad as I have been heavily involved in all aspects of the company at some point in the ten years since it was founded. Hopefully my skills in retaining and enhancing an organisation’s culture as it grows, financial and people management and strategic direction could be beneficial to Findacure.
Why are rare diseases so important?
I have some experience of the challenges posed in the management of rare diseases, based on the work our specialist rare disease team have conducted and know that the issues faced by patients, carers and healthcare professionals in this area are many. Given the number of individuals who collectively are impacted by rare diseases and the unique challenges they face I think it is vital they are supported and given a voice.
To draw on personal experience again, seeing how uncertainty, a lack of information, limited or no treatment options and a sense of isolation can make an already challenging health situation much harder gives me a great appreciation of what families affected by rare diseases have to cope with and the benefits of the work that Findacure does.
What do you think makes Findacure special?
Findacure has clearly been founded by exceptional people with a true and personal commitment to changing the way rare diseases are perceived and managed and have built a team that share those values and aims. This kind of passion is very special and is clearly visible in the work Findacure do. Having spoken with the attendees at Findacure events it is clear that the organisation really does put patient empowerment at its heart; the education, tools and network provided by Findacure really enable patients and parents to take charge of moving their own ideas forward; I think this means that Findacure can have a really wide reaching and last impact.
What would you say is your greatest professional life achievement?
I would say that Costello Medical being listed in The Times Top 100 Best Small Companies to work for is the thing I am most proud of. One of the reasons we founded the company was to give dedicated and talented people a great place to work and this award, based on feedback from our teams, made me feel like we have created a company that people enjoy being part of – and that is really important to me.
Do you have any advice for a young woman looking to start a career in the life sciences?
I would say that the most important thing is to find the things you love doing, and as far as possible, build your career around that. I would never have imagined where my career would take me but I have always followed the advice given to me by my A-level chemistry teacher to choose what I love doing – that is how I chose my degree, and my first job and is how we have built the company so far.