The Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association’s top awardee said biotechnology’s pioneers, who started with “little more than some great science and a dream,” offer a prototype for today’s leaders.
“That dreaminess, hope, promise and passion to do something that’s never been done before … is a great thing,” said Susan Desmond-Hellmann, recipient of the Woman of the Year Award from the HBA.
Desmond-Hellmann, Genentech president, product development, has spent a decade in biotechnology, all of it with the South San Francisco firm.
Also receiving awards at the New York luncheon were HBA’s honorable mentor, Matthew Emmens, who is CEO of Shire Pharmaceuticals, and Sharon Callahan, president of Summit Gray, who received the star volunteer award.
Desmond-Hellmann offered her keys to leadership, which include being flexible and confident while not being afraid to take a risk.
She urged the 1,700 attendees to “be relentless” in pursuing goals. Her focus while at Genentech has centered on approving drugs to treat cancer.
In case anyone looks to The Apprentice as a guidebook for succeeding in business, Shire’s Emmens offered some advice of his own.
“Pitting people against each other doesn’t work,” he said, referring to a recent episode of the show that featured a test of wills between a team composed of women and one of men.
The women won, but the two camps could have worked together to greater effect. “Women bring to the table a different view, compassion, sensitivity, creativity,” he said. “Whenever [Trump] mentions ‘team,’ I cringe.”