XX in Health: Powerful women in life science discuss entrepreneurship, risk-taking and fostering innovation

XXinHealth ©SonySalzman

From left to right: moderator Allison King, Senior Director, Strategy & Operations at OvaScience; Monica Singh, General Counsel for Verastem; Sandra Glucksmann, COO of Editas Medicine; Jacqueline Thong, co-founder, CEO Ubiqui Health; Alexandra Pelletier, Digital Health Program Manager, Boston Children’s Hospital. ©SonySalzman

Raising capital, mitigating risk and fostering innovation: these were just a few of the topics on the table at the April 2 XX in Health “Salon Series,” hosted by Ova Science.

XX in Health, part of Rock Health Boston, is an organization that was founded to support female entrepreneurs within life science fields. The evening was also intended as a networking opportunity for women hoping to glean insights from industry leaders.

Leaders in healthcare chatted over wine and snacks at the April 2 Salon Series of XX in Health, hosted at OvaScience.  ©Elizabeth Hoffman

Leaders in healthcare chatted over wine and snacks at the April 2 Salon Series of XX in Health, hosted at OvaScience. ©Elizabeth Hoffman

The women on the panel hailed from all walks of the life. Moderator Allison King is the Senior Director, Strategy & Operations at OvaScience. Monica Singh discussed her experiences as General Counsel for Verastem, and Sandra Glucksmann shared her decision to move from Millennium Pharmaceuticals to become the COO of Editas Medicine.

“I love to be in the start-up space. It’s like dating. It’s fun and exhausting,” said Glucksmann.

Jacqueline Thong, founder of Ubiqui Health, told the audience what it’s like to be a female entrepreneur starting her own company from the ground up. Alexandra Pelletier, Digital Health Program Manager, Boston Children’s Hospital, discussed the challenges facing innovators within a hospital setting.

The panelists settle in for an hour-long discussion about innovation, female leaders in healthcare, and work-life balance. ©Elizabeth Hoffman

The panelists settle in for an hour-long discussion about innovation, female leaders in healthcare, and work-life balance. ©Elizabeth Hoffman

Each of the panelists brought her own perspective as one of the few female leaders in the top echelon of her respective organization. Thong in particular shared her experiences during the early days of her fundraising; she landed much of the early capital for her company during the later months of her pregnancy, a coincidence that made a big impression on her investors.

“The young women who haven’t started families, there are always barriers that we set for ourselves,” said Thong. She encouraged female entrepreneurs to continue with their life plans despite the demands of running a company.

Many of the women in the audience were curious to learn about skills and personality traits that are essential to rise to the top of the corporate ladder. What’s the best way to raise capital for a start-up venture? How do you mitigate risk in a high-risk industry? And what’s the best way to foster innovation in a highly regulated environment?

“Be confident even when you might not have all the answers,” Pelletier said.

“It’s essential that women learn soft skills such as self promotion – not being afraid to move forward even if you don’t believe you’re the best,” Glucksmann said.

Glucksmann added some parting words of advice: “Follow your dreams, think about what you want and make it as objective as possible so that when the opportunity presents you can jump on it.” 

Sony Salzman

Sony Salzman

    At MedTechBoston, we are sharing stories about cutting-edge medical innovation. As Managing Editor, I help coordinate our coverage of hackathons and company profiles. I also create content, update our social media and scout stories. I'm part of an ambitious group of people hoping to inspire a tech revolution in medical care.

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