The “Schlieremer”: Women in the top leadership of companies
"It wasn't always easy"
CUTISS' management team consists of five people, including three women. One of them is 52-year-old Kathi Mujynya Ludunge. She has been Chief Operating Officer for a year. Until recently, CUTISS only had its research lab in Schlieren. The offices of the startup, which was founded in 2017, and the production facilities are now also located here. Mujynya Ludunge's biggest challenge at the moment is therefore to establish and consolidate the operational structures in Schlieren, as well as to keep to the timelines and budget.
CUTISS is a life science company developing personalized skin grafting technologies for the treatment of a wide range of skin defects. European market approval for its most advanced product candidate, denovoSkin, is expected in 2023. Cutiss achieved 1st place in the "Top 100 Swiss Startup Award" competition this year. The company has thirty employees.
Mujynya Ludunge studied biology at the Ecole Supérieure de la Santé in Neuchâtel and subsequently completed a master's degree in business administration at the University of Geneva. Later, she added a postgraduate diploma in Management of Biotech and Pharmaceuticals Venture at the EPF Lausanne. "I always wanted to have an overview and understand the big picture," Mujynya Ludunge says of her current job. "At the same time, I want to positively develop organizations and share my energy and passion for science with others." Mujynya Ludunge has led teams in Switzerland, the U.S. and Singapore over the past 18 years.
Her rise to leadership positions has "not always been easy," Mujynya Ludunge explains. On the one hand, it was not common in the past for women to be represented at middle and senior management levels and also to be responsible for entire teams. On the other hand, she says, she is not only a woman, but also a "person of color" - her father is Congolese, her mother Swiss. "Fortunately, the world has become much more diverse in 2020," Mujynya Ludunge says.
Mujynya Ludunge works between fifty and sixty hours a week. However, she is now getting better at not thinking about work on weekends, she says. She also has the good fortune of a large family, which keeps her busy in her private life. Mujynya Ludunge is married and the mother of five children. In her sparse free time, she reads a lot - "mainly between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.". She and her family also grow fruit and vegetables for their own use. With the garden's harvest, she loves to cook for family and friends in the evenings and on weekends.