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Jazz Shaper: Andrea Berchowitz

Posted on 08 June 2022

Andrea Berchowitz cofounded a start-up in 2019, Vira Health, which focuses on women's health, an underserved area with impacts in the workplace, families and society.

The company's first product is an app called Stella that supports women to manage the symptoms of menopause. Prior to this, Andrea spent 10 years with McKinsey & Company before joining the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as head of Middle East relations. In these roles, she sat in boardrooms and senior leadership meetings around the world. Regardless of industry or geography, she noticed that there were very few women in top positions. 

Highlights

We have an opportunity to extend healthy life-expectancy for women, which means they can work longer if they want to, they can be more in control of what they do, they can live their lives to their fullest and the way that we can do that is actually better menopause care. 

I think that our business is coming along at a time when there is more conversation, which is great, and now it’s time to move from awareness and conversation to action. 

Women’s health issues are part and parcel of women's economic empowerment, that a healthy person is going to be a better worker and able to pursue their dreams with more gusto. 

Health feels so intertwined with your ability to work and therefore your ability to realise advancement. 

I learned at McKinsey rigour and stamina and it opened my eyes to people around the world, to all sorts of different business questions, moral questions and growth questions. 

The day-to-day of what you have to do in a start-up is so much more granular; you have to be willing to do anything and everything. 

There is a seriousness piece that is different - you are responsible for the pay cheques of your staff and for those people’s professional development. 

We hired a person to lead on people and talent really early to make sure that our staff did have someone to talk to that wasn’t me and Rebecca, the founders of the business, 

Finding talent is really difficult and it is critical to grow the business. I want people to have a great experience but everyone’s great experience looks different, so managing all those different things is a huge challenge. 

At a clinical level, I want to see women manage their menopause symptoms better, I want the frequency and severity of symptoms that disrupt their lives to go down. 

Another key facet is the business; it will only be a success if people continue to love coming to work every day, and that people who work with us right now go on to start other mission-driven companies. 

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