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WIB-Boston: “Lift as you Climb: Women Supporting Women for the Success of Industry, January 23, 2019

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Tuesday, July 30, 2019

WIB-Greater Boston kicked off 2019 in January with a stellar event featuring a panel of accomplished executives hosted by the Novartis Institute of Biomedical Research (NIBR) in Cambridge. 

The evening’s theme, “Lift as you Climb: Women Supporting Women for the Success of Industry,” focused on the merits of women supporting each other at the individual level, organizational level and at the level of the larger ecosystem. 

Our esteemed panelists were:  
Revathi Rammohan, CFO, Novartis/NIBR
Karin Briner, VP & Global Head of Chemistry, Novartis/NIBR
Aoife Brennan, President, CEO & CMO, Synlogic 
Donna Higgins, CEO, The Higgins Group, Inc.

Despite their diverse backgrounds, the panelists agreed that as women support each other, the climb actually accelerates and becomes more meaningful. Each of the panelists serves as a mentor or sponsor to the next generation of leaders with the acknowledgment that this relationship is not only crucial for the mentee’s career advancement but is mutually beneficial. 
An illuminating discussion emerged that emphasized the importance of thoughtful career planning, during which each panelist shared how her personal life impacted her career, and vice versa. They encouraged future female leaders to learn as much as possible about a company and its culture before taking a new position and advised that they would be well-served to build a network outside of their current job. A nuanced discussion ensued where the panelists acknowledged that we all possess unconscious bias and the need for women to be aware and to actively work to dispel any potentially false assumptions. One area that was noted was the difficulty with the “climb” past a certain level and the tendency for competent women to be viewed as operational rather than strategic.

During an engaging question and answer session, audience members shared their experiences while expressing gratitude to the panel. The WIB-Greater Boston chapter is also grateful for the panelists and to our host for a stellar kick-off event for 2019.

Many thanks to NIBR’s Cambridge Women’s Resource Group (CWRG) for sponsoring this event and helping to publicize it. CWRG’s objectives are to:
Promote the Diversity & Inclusion vision, goals and values of Novartis that will lead to enhancing the professional growth and development of its members through Career Development, Community Alliances, Mentoring, Networking, Leadership, Work-Life Synergy, and Seminar Series.
Provide a forum that will encourage discussion and enhance awareness of issues that affect women in the Novartis workplace
Provide communication about Novartis internal resources and initiatives
Assist in the attraction and retention of talent
Support all women within NIBR, Translational Medicine, Development in Cambridge regardless of position.

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Tags:  2019 

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WIB-Greater Boston: Mentorship, Advisors, Peers, and Sponsorship (MAPS) 2019 Program Kickoff, April 9, 2019

Posted By Jenny Long , Thursday, April 25, 2019

On April 9, WIB-Boston kicked off our 2019 MAPS program with an event featuring the inspirational Brenda Loan Baker. MAPS pairs mentors with mentees in small groups based on common goals that participants hope to achieve in the program. The diversity of participants provides a richness of perspectives and fosters opportunity for personal and professional growth through a structured program with regular meetings and seminars.

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An Executive Coach and Partner at innerOvation, Brenda facilitated an interactive session of breakouts for participants to connect, speak candidly and share their personal professional goals. Between each group activity, she imparted bits of wisdom to a room full of attentive ears:

Start with a Vision. Always remember how your values fit in and that often, two important values will clash, so choose to rank values carefully. Participants' top values are: integrity, honesty, compassion, courage, trust, health and respect.

Measure the Leadership Confidence "Pie" at beginning of the program and at the end to understand overall progress and how pieces have changed over time. The “pie” exercise is also invaluable to visualize what pieces require focus to achieve that greater goal; break down what we can do every day that will contribute and help to obtain the results required to achieve our goal.

Tools for a Mentee’s journey:  
1. Prepare for meetings
2. Be open
3. Listen actively and ask questions
4. Review goals at the beginning of a relationship – adapt action logs over time if required
5. Take initiative and ask for feedback
6. Summarize for next time  

Community is valuable to understanding that others experience the same struggles and that we can figure it out together. By continuing to ask ourselves and each other questions, we will get to the big ‘why’! When we understand why something is important and what it means to us - it will become easier to stay accountable and achieve our goals.  

The audience was engaged and inquisitive. WIB Boston Chapter is so excited to hear the progress the mentees make through the MAPs program. Many thanks to Haug Partners LLP for hosting to make this event possible.  

Twitter: @bloanbaker
Linkedln: Brenda Loan-Baker PCC

Tags:  2019 

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WIB-Greater Boston: 5th annual “Lobster Pot” Event, March 25, 2019

Posted By Jenny Long, Thursday, April 25, 2019

We had a wonderful time celebrating Women's History Month with our annual “Lobster Pot” Pitch event, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Innovation. Attendees networked and exchanged business cards and ideas over lobster rolls and wine at the Broad Institute of MITHarvard before the main event. The pitch presentations featured impressive women-led startups and their stories: safer gene editing technologies, novel ear tubes for chronic ear infections, placental allografts for animal therapies, and phage technology for Cholera.

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Many thanks to our esteemed VC panelists and CEO presenters.


Marian Nakada, Ph.D., Vice President, Venture Investments, J&J Innovation

VC panelists

Laura Brass, Ph.D., MBA, Partner, Novartis Venture Fund
Michelle Doig, Partner, Omega Funds
Deborah Palestrant, Ph.D., MBA, Partner, Head of 4:59 at 5AM Ventures
Anna Turetsky, Ph.D., Vice President, Lightstone Ventures


Amanda Drobnis, CEO, Founder, Hilltop BioSciences
Ida Pavlichenko, Ph.D., CEO and Co-Founder, PioEar Technologies
Elizabeth Reczek, Ph.D., Founding CEO, Excelsior Genomics
Minmin Yen, Ph.D., Founding CEO PhagePro

The investors had great advice for the pitch companies, including:
1. Keep your slides clear and simple - Important content may be missed if slides are too busy
2. Use visuals to show your technology/device – Capture investors’ interest in the science of how things work
3. Break down your numbers – Help investors understand your ramp to operations
4. What’s the value inflection point? How far does your funding ask take you?
5. Know your exit strategy – All investors are looking for this!

Once again, “Lobster Pot” event was a fabulous display of the Boston women shaping the future of life science.  Many thanks to Broad Institute for hosting and for Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABs for their sponsorship, which makes this event possible.

Tags:  2019 

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WIB-Greater Boston: “Thrive Beyond Your Silo: Mid-Career Transitions”, October 24, 2018

Posted By Marsha Morgenstern, Tuesday, February 19, 2019

As part of our ongoing Leadership Ready Seminar Series, WIB-Boston convened a round-table of esteemed women who shared insights about how to guide your career and transition with intention. Our panelists included:

Christine Guertin, Head of Regulatory Affairs, Synlogic, Inc.
Jessica Goodman, Ph.D., Director of Corporate Alliances, Harvard University
Suzanne Giordano, Ph.D., Executive Director and Head of Medical Science Liaisons, Sunovion Pharmaceuticals
Michelle Mellion, M.D., Medical Director, Fulcrum Therapeutics.
Moderator: Jennifer Chadwick, Ph.D., Director of Biologic Development, BioAnalytix, Inc.

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An introduction to Career Transitions

Panelists each shared their own personal journeys – at times intentional and other times not.  They each believe that as women, career transitions never occur in a vacuum - they involve other people who are part of the equation, such as significant others or children. The panel also highlighted obstacles, such as how women are often perceived to be a support person, especially when transitioning to higher corporate levels. They advised that during such transitions, it’s important to understand people’s perceptions and deliberately work to change them.  

How to Prepare for Transitions

Always be mindful of where the gaps of are in your CV and find opportunities to fill them.  Don’t worry about where you’re going (you’ll figure out where you need to go), but as long as you are moving forward in some way, you are bettering yourself.

Think about the transition in a structured way: who and what you utilize to prepare
o Make a list of potential people who can help you: reach out to those in positions you seek to attain to understand what they are doing and how you may expand your skill set in that direction.
o Visualizing on paper often brings a different perspective, and making a pro and con list may be helpful.

Don’t forget the importance of networks: new opportunities often come from old contacts, and in addition, use your network to de-risk.

Emotionally Digesting Career Transitions

All panelists agreed that “forward is not always a straight path,” and advised the audience to be thoughtful and deliberate to understand and set expectations during an initial phase of a transition.*  As women, we are in charge of our own decisions – after a decision is made, avoid conducting a post-mortem on the decision and analyzing what went wrong – instead we should have confidence in ourselves and move on. Finally, the panel left the audience with a final word of advice: “Do your passion: wake up to something you want to do every day and if you do that, you’re making the right decision.”

*The first 90 days book 

The audience was engaged and grateful for the advice learned from each individual panelists' personal journey. The WIB-Greater Boston chapter thanks the panelists and also our host Fish and Richardson, LLP for a wonderful fall event.

Tags:  2018  Leadership Ready 

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WIB-Greater Boston: Solving for X in the Y Domain: Strategies for Women to Thrive Within Male-Dominated Fields, May 3, 2018

Posted By Marsha Morgenstern, Tuesday, February 19, 2019

WIB-Greater Boston: Leadership Ready Program Seminar, “Solving for X in the Y Domain: Strategies for Women to Thrive Within Male-Dominated Fields” by Gae Walters, PhD.  May 3, 2018 at McDermott Will and Emery, LLP

On May 3rd, 2018, Gae Walters, PhD., shared insights and inspiration from her research, a literature review of how women have employed buffering behaviors* to achieve senior leadership positions in male-dominated fields.  

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Gae is an organizational psychologist, author and executive coach.  She framed her talk as all the things that she wished she had known at the start of her career.  Gae enthusiastically expressed her wishes for the next generation to have an easier professional path than she did and that this generation will push forward for female achievement in traditionally male-dominated fields.

She explained that there is extensive literature on reasons why women do not attain leadership positions, but that less is known about why some women do reach the top. Buffering behaviors have effectively helped many women successfully achieve senior leadership positions in traditionally male-dominated professions, and include:

Self-monitoring – IQ gets you hired, EQ gets you promoted.
Impression Management – is a mechanism for overcoming inaccurate stereotypes (Leary & Kowalski, 1990). “In less than four minutes, people make judgements about your credibility, knowledge and expertise…just by looking at you” – L. Zunin Contact the First 4 minutes.
Political Skill – this is actually a gendered advantage area for many women in STEM over their male counterparts.
Performance – You can’t be equal to, you must be better than - over prepare, over achieve, over deliver.

Gae’s presentation was heavy on data as well as on quotes: “Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did ...but she did it backwards and in high heels.”  It was wonderful to be her audience. All the women in the room felt the sincerity and power of her words. We hope that our generation can fulfill her wishes for us.

Further information:

Gae’s linkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gae-walters-phd-0623656/
Gae’s book summarizing this research: https://www.amazon.com/Solving-Domain-Strategies-Overcoming-Leadership/dp/1480852708

*Buffering behaviors are defined as the self-monitoring skills and strategies that utilize knowledge of political behavior, impression management, and performance to overcome the gender bias and backlash women often experience when behaving in counter stereotypical ways.

Tags:  2018  Leadership Ready 

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WIB-Greater Boston: Young Women In Bio Event at Sarepta Therapeutics, January 28, 2019

Posted By Marsha Morgenstern, Tuesday, February 19, 2019

On Monday, January 28, 2019 the Greater Boston YWIB Chapter co-organized with Sarepta Therapeutics an opportunity for young girls to peek inside the world of a biotechnology company focused on combating rare diseases, in particular, Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Students from the Boston area convened at the Company headquarters in Cambridge and began the evening networking over light fare (pizza, salad, and cookies). Following a brief introduction to Young Women In Bio led by Suzanne Grillo, Chair, Young Women In Bio Greater Boston, attendees heard from several female company leaders holding various positions, including:

  • Louise Rodino-Klapac, Ph.D. (Vice President, Gene Therapy) shared her career journey contributing to the research and development of the Company’s lead drug candidate, the events that led her to choose a career in science, the inspiration she derived from female scientists before her like Rosalind Franklin and the importance of challenging yourself outside your comfort zone to achieve great things
  • Francesca Nolan (Sr. Director, Investor Relations and Corporate Communications) provided an overview of the Company, the team effort required to bring a drug to market and the importance of finding helpful mentors along the way
  • Tiffany Thompson (Medical Affairs Associate, Gene Therapy Operations) shared an overview of her career path starting from her major in kinesiology at college and the opportunities that unfold in nurturing companies such as Sarepta

The girls were then invited up to their onsite laboratory where they were able to participate in an interactive scientific experiment led by Danielle Griffin, Senior Manager of Gene Therapy. Danielle works closely with Dr. Rodino-Klapac as head of research operations. After donning lab coats and protective eye gear, girls moved to independent lab stations set up so that the girls could extract and purify DNA from their cheek cells. Then they were invited to view and discuss the differences they saw between normal and diseased muscle tissue.

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Following the lab experiment, the girls returned to the conference room and each participant received a book about Dr. Rodino-Klapac’s scientific inspiration, Rosalind Franklin.

Tags:  2019  YWIB 

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Previous Past Event Recaps

Posted By Marsha Morgenstern, Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Click here for Women In Bio Greater Boston 2018 Past Events

Click here for Women In Bio Greater Boston 2017 Past Events

Click here for Women In Bio Greater Boston 2016 Past Events

Click here for Women In Bio Greater Boston 2015 Past Events

Tags:  2015  2016  2017  2018 

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