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WIB-Southern California: Women for Social Impact, June 18, 2019

Posted By Roberta Alexander , Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The WIB-Southern California event on June 18, 2019 offered the rare opportunity to hear from Peggy Callahan, an inspiring anti-slavery activist, and filmmaker. The evening was sponsored by our chapter sponsor, American Laboratory Trading (ALT), and by Ferring Pharmaceuticals. After a lively networking reception with delectable appetizers and fine wines, the program started with brief presentations about WIB and Ferring. Peggy Callahan then took the stage and spoke about issues we rarely hear about at WIB’s events. In fact, the evening focused on anti-slavery activism rather than life sciences or career-related topics.

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Peggy is currently working and raising funds for a film poised to have a global impact. The film is based on the book that His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote together, The book of Joy.

While working on the film, Peggy got to know these Holy men well and shared with us their wisdom. Although their faith is different, they both believe in telling the truth even if it can get you killed, and in living with joy, especially in difficult times.  They are transcendent visionaries and inspire others in living with self-honesty and in aligning internal and external life. The Dalai Lama believes that most of the things that upset us are self-inflicted. Ask yourself if what is upsetting you is really true. If not, let go. If true, can you do something about it? If no, let go. But, if you can do something about it, make it happen.

Also, Peggy has a make-it-happen attitude toward social injustice. Even as a child she had a strong sense of what was unfair. As an investigative journalist, she has spent her career covering poverty, the foster care system, the death penalty, farm-workers, racism, homelessness, and slavery.

Peggy co-founded her first international anti-slavery organization, Free the Slaves, after reading the book Disposable People, which is about modern slavery. She felt that she had to do something about this problem. Her passion made the work not feel like work, even if for 5 years she had a day job, spent time with her children in the evening, and then helped Free the Slaves pass critical legislation. Although slavery is illegal everywhere in the world, it is estimated that there are 40 million people working in slavery today, the highest number - albeit the smallest percentage - in history.  

Voices4Freedom is the second anti-slavery organization that Peggy founded with the belief that, when you help someone else, the first person you help is yourself. Voices4Freedom works mainly in India and has a network of people on the ground to identify families who, after having taken sometimes a very small loan, find themselves the property of the slaveholder. With the financial support of friends, foundations, and companies, Voices4Freedom builds co-called Schools4Freedom in communities where slavery is common. The schools provide shelter, education by a male and a female teacher, books, supplies and, importantly, daily hot meals. This holistic approach to children education empowers adults to use the legal system to fight their slave owners and free themselves. In just 3 years, Voices4Freedom has helped 11 villages and over 3,500 people to thrive and be completely free from slavery.


Tags:  2019 

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WIB-Southern California: How to Crack the Funding Code!, May 30, 2019

Posted By Roberta Alexander, Tuesday, June 4, 2019

On May 30, 2019, Judy Robinett spoke at a Larger than Life Science event organized jointly by WIB-Southern California and LaunchBio and held at Biolabs Towne Centre in La Jolla. California Life Sciences Association (CLSA) was the keynote co-sponsor. Many life sciences and non-life sciences professionals came to the event and joined the lively networking reception with gourmet pizza, salads, wine, and beer.

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Judy’s talk was entitled “How Investors Think and What They Need to Hear to Fund Your Start-up” and leveraged her experience in helping entrepreneurs find capital by connecting them with venture capitalists, angel investors, and other sources of funding. Judy encouraged the audience to contact WIB-Southern California for her hand-out of useful funding resources.


Lack of funding is one of the biggest reasons small businesses fail. In 2016 alone, more than 31 percent of U.S. small business owners reported that they could not access adequate capital, and the lack of capital prevented them from growing the business/expanding operations, increasing inventory, or financing increased sales. On the other hand, the average return on investment in start-ups is 20% vs 12% in SP100 companies, indicating that entrepreneurship works better than a top-down approach. 


Technology is changing rapidly and wearable technology, voice-activated devices, health monitors, artificial intelligence, autonomous driving cars, and robots will play an increasingly important role in our lives. You probably read the story of Paro, a therapeutic and interactive robot developed by AIST, a leading Japanese industrial automation pioneer. Paro provides the benefits of animal therapy to patients in Japanese nursing homes where live animals are not allowed due to treatment or logistical difficulties.


To increase your chances of getting funded, be persistent, fight back when you feel defeated, know yourself and your assets, but remember that investors are not interested in your technology but in making money. It is important to know or to get introduced to the right people. Quality of contacts is more important than quantity: do your own due diligence and focus on the relationship with 25 to 50 people who can make a difference for your business. Emotional intelligence is important as well: be an active listener, ask questions, and be likable. Importantly, be authentic.

Tags:  2019 

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WIB-Southern California: Special Interest Panel; Business Operational Roles, May 14, 2019

Posted By Roberta Alexander , Tuesday, May 28, 2019

On May 14, 2019, the MAPS committee of the Southern California chapter of WIB organized a special interest panel (SIP) focused on Business Operational Roles. 

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Panelists were Navjot Kaur, Kristina Herbert, Laura Pomeroy, Jennifer Guzman, and Meghan Norvell. They started by introducing themselves and describing their career paths in virtual start-up and biotech, medical devices, finance, and business development.

The panelists described a few traits that led them to their current roles. For example, project management skills can be used to increase efficiency in an academic lab and to apply for grants on a regular basis without missing deadlines. In addition, good communication and organizational skills are useful in every type of career. It is important to communicate data or business goals in a clear and persuasive fashion to convey the important points and get the buy-in from the audience.

It is important to nurture professional connections, to be adaptable, to take risks without being afraid of new responsibilities, and to learn new skills that set you apart from the crowd and can transform a job into a career. Formal training and degrees are important, but not absolutely necessary for a successful career. MBAs are not considered as essential for a career in business development or sales as they used to be, and one can be a good grant writer without any formal training. 

Important skills can be learned from practice and from volunteering opportunities, especially outside your comfort zone. Try to participate in writing a business plan, in a due diligence activity at your company, learn to negotiate a budget, and volunteer to be on a board.

The panelists concluded by describing how they spend their time. While meetings with members of project teams and cross-functional teams often take a good part of the day, it is important to have a good work/life balance and to know what makes you thrive.

Tags:  2019 

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WIB-Southern California: Executive Presence. How to Own the Room and Own Your Voice, April 25, 2019

Posted By Roberta Alexander, Wednesday, May 1, 2019

On April 25, 2019, WIB-Southern California members and guests had the opportunity to attend a very interesting presentation by Maya Hu-Chan, a globally recognized leadership consultant, executive coach, speaker, and author. DLA Piper LLP US sponsored the event, which was held at their offices in La Jolla. In addition to DLA Piper, we thank American Laboratory Trading (ALT) and IQVIA.

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The networking reception before and after the event gave the opportunity to chat over wine, appetizers, and desserts. 

Sibylle Hauser introduced Maya, who started out by telling the story of her first leadership position when a teacher appointed her class president. Although she only had to direct the other students to stand up, bow, sit down, and say “Thank you, teacher”, the first few times were terrifying. As the days went by, she became more and more confident. Now that she is a coach, she knows that everybody can become comfortable in their roles and develop executive presence. 

Although one size does not fit all, common traits of individuals with executive presence are confidence and assertiveness. They smile, are never rushed, speak clearly and calmly, and “dress the part” even on casual Fridays. They stand their ground when challenged, hold their own, and can diffuse difficult or unpredictable situations.
Gender bias may catapult men forward and hold women back, as certain characteristics are viewed in a positive light in men but not in women. A rule breaker (push the limits without thinking at the consequences) is seen as a change agent if a man and inconsistent if a woman; an egotist (self-centered and competitive) is considered confident if a man and self-centered if a woman; an upstager (likes to be in the spotlight and dominate meetings) is selling his point of view if a men, while is too opinionated if a woman; a worrier is seen as unwilling to make tough decisions for fear of criticism if a woman, while a man worrier is considered a thoughtful decision maker.

To manage perceptions, you need to know what the perception is. As we often have blind spots, ask people you trust for feedback. Remain authentic to who you are, but also work toward changing your behavior to be perceived in a positive way.

Maya shared practical strategies for developing executive presence: Don’t rush from meeting to meeting and give yourself 10 to 15 minutes to walk across the building. When giving presentations, focus more on the big picture than on the details. Don’t apologize and don’t say things like “I am not 100% sure”, “I am not an expert”, “I am sorry if…”. Do your homework, be prepared, and when you need to say something, raise your hand up high and open with something like “this is my thought”. Be clear and concise when delivering your opinion. Know your audience and tailor your speech to what is important to them. In terms of body language, stand up straight, don’t hunch, own the room, and dress for success. Modulate your “dimmer switch” and adapt to the people you are talking to. Think about how you speak and keep your tone even; at the end of your sentence, go down instead of “upspeaking” like if you were asking a question.

Finally, if you want to be viewed as an accomplished expert, learn from failure, be a colorful storyteller, be experienced and street smart, be assertive but not aggressive, speak short sentences, and be sure of yourself.

Tags:  2019 

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WIB-Southern California: Fireside Chat with Woman Founder & Townhall Meeting, March 28, 2019

Posted By Roberta Alexander, Sunday, March 31, 2019

For Women’s History Month, WIB-Southern California featured a fireside chat with Stephanie Hsieh, CEO of Meditope Biosciences, on March 28, 2019. The event was also a Town Hall meeting where representatives of all WIB committees spoke about what they do for WIB, how rewarding volunteering is, and how what they learn while volunteering can be useful for their careers.

The event was sponsored by the law firm Latham & Watkins LLP and was held at their San Diego location. We started off with a networking reception with appetizers and delicious wine and beer, after which representatives from Latham & Watkins and our chapter sponsor, American Laboratory Trading (ALT), spoke about their companies.

 

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Julie Fishman introduced Stephanie and asked interesting questions about her winding career path. The common theme has been her courage to follow opportunities that piqued her interest, the connections she maintained throughout the years, and the support of her family. She finds change exciting, but recognizes the importance to gain transferable skills and, at the same time, be able to learn as you go. Entrepreneurship is somewhat in your blood, but you also need to force yourself to change or acquire necessary character traits; for Stephanie, these were shyness and persistence, respectively.

 

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Stephanie’s parents, whom she considers her mentors, wanted her to become a physician. Growing up, this is what she thought she would do, until an internship at Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital while studying Biochemistry at Wellesley College made her change her mind. As she did not like the work in the hospital, but was not interested in a career as a scientist, either, her thesis advisor put her in contact with a patent attorney. This led to her decision to go to law school at Columbia University. Patent litigation sparked her interest in the business of biotechnology. Thus, she made the bold decision to give up a lofty salary and go back to school to earn an MBA from Stanford. She worked for a few years in commercial real estate until some friends from law school invited her to join their new patent litigation venture. Building the practice was interesting, but then the opportunity to join a biotech start-up presented itself. The operational role in this small company was very rewarding and gave her the experience to join another old friend when he called her up to say that he was up to something. Together they started Meditope Biosciences, an early stage biotechnology company that develops immuno-oncology therapeutics.  

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Tags:  2019 

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WIB-Southern California: The Broken Wheel: Connecting Data with Real People, February 26, 2019

Posted By Roberta Alexander, Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The February event of the Southern California chapter of Women In Bio focused on how to close the gap between research and clinical data is and how progress in this area can positively impact patients. The event was sponsored by our chapter sponsor, IQVIA, and was held at their facility in San Diego. As usual, the event started with a lively networking reception with delicious finger food, cheese and crackers, wine and soft drinks.

 

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More than 80 people came out to join the panel discussion. The upcoming chair of WIB SoCal, Katy McCowen, spoke about WIB and Linda Strause introduced the panelists.  

Tracy Dixon-Salazar, Ph.D., Director of Research and Strategy at LGS Foundation, shared a very personal story. She decided to get a Phd. in neurobiology and neuroscience to better understand and study Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS), a rare and severe form of childhood-onset epilepsy that affected her daughter.
Dawn Barry co-founded approximately a year ago LunaDNA, a community-owned platform to securely store and share de-identified personal health information for health and quality of life research.

The theme of genome research and personalized medicine continued with Anna Barker, Ph.D., co-director of Complex Adaptive Systems – Biomedicine, Director of the National Biomarker Development Alliance, and Professor at Arizona State University and Wendy Benson, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives at Rady Children’s Institute of Genomic Medicine. Rady’s launched a few months ago the Project Baby Bear, the first California state-funded program to offer whole genome sequence for critically-ill newborns hospitalized in intensive care units. Finally, Kelly Theel, Ph.D., Senior Regulatory Affairs Officer at IQVIA told the story of how the mother of a child with Tourette’s syndrome advocated with Congress to pass the Rare Disease Act in 2002 to incentivize companies to develop much-needed treatments for rare diseases.

To read more, visit Dr. Roberta Alexander's Linkedin page here.

Tags:  2019 

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Previous Past Event Recaps

Posted By Marsha Morgenstern, Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Click here for Women In Bio Southern California 2018 Past Events

Click here for Women In Bio Southern California 2017 Past Events

Click here for Women In Bio Southern California 2016 Past Events

Tags:  2016  2017  2018 

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