On October 26, 2017, WIB-San Francisco Bay Area hosted a panel discussion at DLA Piper in San Francisco featuring active leaders in Women in Bio (WIB) and the Association for Women in Science (AWIS). Emilie Besnard, co-chair of the programming committee, briefly introduced WIB and the different WIB committees in which members can volunteer (programming, sponsorship, communication, membership, and Young Women In Bio (YWIB)). The moderator, Shehnaaz Suliman (M.D., MPhil, M.B.A), who is a Senior Vice President for Corporate Development & Strategy at Theravance Biopharma then shared her career path and highlighted the importance of staying open to new opportunities, as showcased by her journey from medical school, to Wall Street, and ultimately to M&A and corporate strategy.
After the introductory session, each panelist, Susan Bernhard (AWIS mentor), Deborah Ovadia (WIB - MAPs), Jaya (Yalia) Jayalakshmi (YWIB / WIB - LDL), and Yasmin Chandrasekher (EWIB / WIB - MAPs), presented her perspective on how different programs in both organizations are structured and what they offer participants. First, the panelists discussed the opportunities women in the Bay Area must participate in mentoring and leadership programs with WIB and AWIS. Susan Bernhard presented AWIS and the framework provided for their mentoring program, for which she has been volunteering for many years. Deborah Ovadia discussed the WIB Mentors-Advisors-Peers Program (MAPs) that offers peer-to-peer mentoring groups for women at all career levels as well as one-on-one mentoring (pairing a mentee with a more experienced mentor). All panelists agreed that everyone needs mentors at every stage of their career, and that mentoring is a two-way relationship and should be a win-win situation, where the mentees guide the mentors to get the help they need.
Next, Jaya (Yalia) Jayalakshmi presented the YWIB program that aims to expose girls to the life sciences and the business of science. Jaya also introduced a new WIB program, Leaders Developing Leaders (LDL), that is now in a pilot version where small group dinners are organized with one senior woman who participated as a panelist or moderator in a past event and a few chapter committee leaders. This program is structured to give back to committee leaders and bring the panelists and moderators into the WIB community. Finally, Yasmin Chandrasekhar presented the Boardroom Ready Program from Executive WIB (EWIB) that started 2 years ago. This program is offered to 20 women who are selected through a rigorous application process. These women complete a two-and-a-half-day program and are rewarded a Boardroom Ready Certificate upon graduation. EWIB is working on expanding this program and building a national community of boardroom women. Throughout the event, the moderator and panelists left time for the audience to ask questions, participate, and share their own experience with WIB, AWIS, or their career path. Women scientists from every level, from graduate student, to bench scientist, to Senior VP, as well as lawyers attended this event. Thanks to all of you - event attendees, members, and volunteers - for helping WIB build an empowering community of women in the life sciences. Importantly, WIB is here to set up and continue beneficial mentoring partnerships to support the career advancement of women in our community. WIB members, do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about our mentoring programs! Many thanks to all the attendees, the panelists, Shehnaaz Suliman for steering the discussion, the event sponsor, DLA Piper, for hosting us, and the event Co-Chairs Emilie Besnard and Meej Kim for putting this event together!
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