Colleague Alejandra Pecka smiling in the camera. In the background are three icons: A graduation cap, a plane and a scan of a human.
Oncology

Career with purpose: embracing culture and science

Find out how our colleague Alejandra Pecka encounters cultural diversity through her career as a medical physicist in radiation oncology, always eager to learn and seeking challenges.

4min
Lena Stauber
Published on 28. August 2023

Alejandra Pecka still remembers some of the reactions to her desire to study physics. “I heard things like: You need to be an intellectual to become a scientist. Are you even smart enough?” Pecka says. But she remained undeterred: While attending college in Bolivia, she participated in a science Olympiad and earned a scholarship for her physics studies. A few years later, she stands proudly by one of the first proton-therapy devices that Varian installed in Munich. She played a significant part in building the chambers. Embracing her own path and preventing doubts or worries from holding her back, this quality makes her a remarkable woman.

“Self-confidence is something that I sometimes truly lacked, but I tried to overcome that step by step,” Pecka says. “It is the biggest challenge to believe in yourself and what you are capable of.” Her mother eventually encouraged her to always raise her voice and have the courage to lead. This lesson has been Alejandra Pecka’s constant companion, giving her the self-confidence she needed to forge her own path in physics. 

Her grandmother developed cancer when Pecka was in college. “In Bolivia back then, cancer therapy was usually related to surgery or chemotherapy,” she remembers. “I discovered that there is radiation therapy and that could be very well used in my country.” To learn more about this treatment option and further her journey, Pecka first moved to Italy for her Ph.D. and then to Germany and Switzerland to work on proton therapy and pursue different roles from physics support to tender management and product marketing at Varian.

She has not only conducted application training in more than 40 hospitals across Europe but has also experienced firsthand the richness of cultural diversity: “It’s about understanding how other people live and that not everyone thinks like you. I get a different perspective from every person I talk to. Depending on where you are, the solution remains the same, but it will be applied in different ways.”

Alejandra Pecka is smiling in the camera.

Conversations with people and exposure to new cultures are like a second passion for Pecka. But what impressed her the most is the shared goal of providing the best for the patients that unites everyone. “Without my job, I would not have experienced this side of the world. I would not have met so many people or learned so many other things. It all enriches me every day.”

Today, Alejandra Pecka works as a product marketing manager for CT in radiation oncology. Her journey to this point has been anything but a detour, as she always kept her goals firmly in sight. “When I saw a Varian booth at a conference for the first time as a student, it impressed me. I thought it must be so hard to get there. And, finally, being a part of the company as an employee myself was a highlight in my career. It made me feel very special. For some people, it might not be impressive, but for me, it was like a milestone.” 

Today, when she hears comments about her career path, she simply says: “I just went ahead and did my thing.” And her journey is far from over: “I wanted to do more. I wanted to take a step farther, so I went back to college and am finishing my master’s in brand and marketing management right now.”


By Lena Stauber

Lena Stauber is an editor in corporate communications at Siemens Healthineers. The team specializes in topics related to healthcare, medical technology, disease areas, and digitalization.