Women are now leaving the workforce at four times the rate of men. What do you feel needs to be done to alleviate this? 

As leaders of industry, we need to be authentic and transparent about the challenges we face both personally and professionally so our teams can feel safe to bring the problems they’re facing to the table. It’s our responsibility to create a culture of psychological safety for our teams. When we can talk openly about these situations, then we can work together to create solutions where otherwise, women and members from underrepresented communities feel no other option but to leave.

Who was your mentor and what are you now doing to send the elevator back down?

I am so grateful for leaders such as Nola Masterson, one of the first women covering biopharma on Wall Street who went on to create and IPO a company when she needed a flexible work situation to be a single parent. Telling me her story inspired me to remember I had power. I had a choice and I had a voice. I pay it forward by being vulnerable, telling my story and believing in others who may not believe in themselves.

What is your golden rule at work?

Be yourself and don’t apologize for it. Society can put the burden of shame on those who don’t match the ideal image of “successful.” And yet, our unique stories build critical qualities for success. For me, growing up in poverty taught me creativity, character, resilience and discipline … it also made me hungry to strive for more.

We all have our stories; they should be told and they should be embraced. 

How have you coped with the unique challenges of the past 12 months?

Events this past year, including the brutal crimes against Black and Asian-Americans, and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on impoverished communities and communities of color, motivated me to reflect and more importantly to act. As the life sciences community, our mission to enhance and save lives is not just about helping people with disease, but lifting people up when life has brought them down. I believe we are here to help spark a variety of solutions for a better, more equitable world.

In particular, as Chair of the Board of California Life Sciences, I formed a sub-committee to determine how we as an industry could make a positive impact on Racial and Social Justice. We didn’t want to just check a box or write a check, this is no ordinary committee. We sought to understand first, and we want to tackle the problem holistically, roll up our sleeves and inspire others to do the same. You can see our plan here. Leading this sub-committee reinforced for me that we all have a role to play and through our collective action, we can make a lasting commitment to change.

What are the first things you plan to do when the pandemic ends?

Travel to Canada to hug my parents!