“In medical school, I purposely got the worst grades”

Sumbul Desai wants to put technology at the service of medical progress.

Miss Figaro. –A wake-up time?
Sumbul Desai. – 5:50 a.m.

If we have to go back to the origin?
In my traditional Indian family, academic background and a deep work ethic were at the heart of everything. I admired my father, a university professor, but my mother, above all, inspired me. She passed three diplomas at three times in her life, showed me that we could evolve continuously and, by applying ourselves, succeed in everything. My parents saw me as a doctor or an engineer, I dreamed of journalism.

The red thread of your career?
In medical school, I purposely got the worst grades. My father finally gave in. I negotiated studies in computer science, communication specialization, at Columbia University, in New York. Journalist on the ABC channel – the morning news -, then working at Disney in development, I learned rigor, to analyze the data and to refine the messages.

A decisive moment?
My mother’s heart attack, just before 9/11. When we had to change her hospital, I understood that we had to take charge of her health and that of her loved ones so as not to feel helpless. I gave up my media career and went back to medicine. I loved my seven years at Stanford, I stayed there to teach *. Then in 2017, Apple made me an offer.

The pitch of your position?
Detect in medicine and science what can be associated with technology to offer intuitive and non-intrusive tools helping to better understand the body. I work with everyone: engineers, doctors, regulators, and with designers, who create very beautiful objects!

I understood that you had to take charge of your health and that of your loved ones so as not to feel helpless

Your next challenges?
Give everyone the right tools to understand the signals sent by their body and be proactive. We continue to make progress in everything related to the heart, taking medication and psychological well-being.

What about the confidentiality of this data?
Our features would be built faster if we weren’t fiercely attached to this confidentiality: all of our clinical trials are volunteer-based. We have no access to our customers’ data.

A digital addiction?
I count my steps! And I have an app for positive thinking.

A moment off?
Every evening with my children, we take a little walk, we tell each other about the day, we are in the present moment.

Your definition of influence?
Make an impact, not for vanity, but to give back. Help other women gain power, knowing never to be afraid to ask for help.


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