Laura Kanalina

Process Engineer
Northeastern University
AWIS member since 2023

“Eyes are afraid, but hands are doing.”

AWIS member Laura Kanalina

What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned?

Being a leader does not always mean to be the best; being a leader means to help others to succeed and become the best.

What do you consider to be your most important career achievement or milestone?

I earned my BSc in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Petroleum Engineering. I put everything on the line and had to learn all over again when I decided to switch the industry to Biotechnology. That’s my biggest personal achievement. It’s never too late to start again.

What do you aspire to accomplish in your career and why? What obstacles will you overcome?

I love when my work is challenging me. It feels incredible when the problem is solved and something that seemed so challenging was not that complicated! I aspire to become an engineer who truly makes an impact in my field, but I don’t want the challenges to end.

Describe an amazing opportunity in your STEM career.

I feel blessed because I wake up every day with a purpose, working on developing and manufacturing lifesaving gene therapies. It’s frightening and amazing how gene therapy is changing the future of healthcare. A hundred years from now people won’t believe that this was how the healthcare was like.

How was AWIS helped you professionally and/or personally?

I’m inspired when I learn about women in STEM, their stories and the challenges they overcame. I also want to help and inspire girls to study engineering and believe in themselves. I truly wish women had the same opportunities in STEM as men do.

What is your favorite word? 

Risk.

How do you define it?

Risk is a willingness to lose something in order to get something more valuable.

How has this word influenced or inspired your career?

There is no success if there is no risk involved. Everything that I am proud of in my career came from overcoming a fear and taking a risk.

How does AWIS impact your career journey?

I became a member of AWIS to connect, to network, and to learn.

What are you currently reading or listening to?

I’m reading “The Fiat Standard” by Saifedean Ammous.

What do you consider the best professional or personal advice you’ve ever received?

Whatever you want to pursue, just start doing and taking small steps every day to achieve the goal. The more you think about it, the more reasons you will find to “avoid” starting. There is a saying where I came from that truly impacted my life and career: “Eyes are afraid, but hands are doing”.

Laura Kanalina earned her BSc in Chemical Engineering in 2019. Her thesis was on the conversion of naphtha into aromatic compounds via catalytic reforming. She interned at oil refinery as a plant operator in the crude distillation unit and the vacuum distillation unit, and as a lab technician. She earned her MSc in Chemical Engineering from Northeastern University in 2022 and interned in big pharma. Currently she is working as a Process Engineer providing operational & engineering support to manufacturing of lifesaving gene therapies.