Updated: Dec 5, 2021
After much thought, I’ve decided to leverage my 20+ years of experience to launch Founder → Leader, offering custom leadership, management, and communication coaching for biotech startups.
Perhaps it’s the unwinding of the pandemic or the aroma of “the great resignation,” but I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting, in my mid-life, about how I can most meaningfully have a positive impact.
HERE's WHY I WENT FOR IT:
After hosting Founder-led Biotech Week in early November 2021, I found myself overwhelmed by the community’s response to the summit. It’s clear we’re onto something; the time is ripe for this “Founder-led” movement. Funding is abundant, human health and sustainability pain-points are acute, and now there are successful models of founder leaders out there, like the Ginkgo Bioworks team. The path has been illuminated and top talent is lining up to solve these pressing problems as entrepreneurs.
After having spent the last two years as Head of Programs at Petri, I’ve found that the greatest learning curve new biotech founders face has nothing to do with technology; it has to do with people.
Most founders are surprised by how hard it is to get the who and the how right when launching a startup. It ends up that it’s not super intuitive how to take a group of individuals and turn them into a high-functioning team - especially when the team is interdisciplinary and diverse.
The thing that is both exciting and challenging about the founder-led movement is that this new breed of founder typically has limited experience leading or managing a team before they become CEO - and then the stakes are high.
Veterans in the industry like to use this fact as an argument for why seasoned entrepreneurs should continue taking the helm launching new companies. We certainly need experienced entrepreneurs in the ecosystem. That being said: we also need to diversify the types of people emerging into leadership roles in order to build a healthy ecosystem in which a wider range of problems get addressed and new models continually challenge the status quo.
Here's the good news:
After many years teaching at Harvard and MIT, I’ve seen firsthand that leadership, management, and communication can be taught. These are not innate abilities.
The most effective way to learn these skills is while actively building. It’s called “just in time learning;” based off of Toyota’s just in time manufacturing process. The best way to deeply learn a new skill is when you need the knowledge or know-how in order to progress towards a meaningful goal. It’s the principle that was essential to how I designed the MIT Communication Lab and Harvard’s Operation Impact. People learn best when they learn actively, when theory and application happen in tandem.
The most effective way to transition from being a founder to being a leader is to have a great coach at your side.
An extraordinary facilitator can optimize and expedite the process of learning, doing, reflecting, and improving - and mitigate the mis-steps that inevitably occur when you learn on the job. An expert coach can guide the overall growth trajectory of an organization to be one in which each individual is empowered to row with all of their might towards the same collective goal.
HERE's HOW I CAN HELP:
My non-linear journey has prepared me well to serve as a founder coach. At my core, I’m a teacher. I’m also a serial founder who’s launched, scaled, and managed multiple startups within academia and in venture capital. Culturally, I’m most at home working with the tech community. I’ve led organizational turnarounds, been the only woman on an all-male team, and also led a 100% female leadership team. I’m a mom and a wife.
Most importantly, though, I’m an optimist. I believe that this rising generation of founder-leader is essential for a better future. The moment is ripe for disruption and we’re running out of time to correct course with issues like climate change.
I’m now open to working with clients. Whether you are an individual looking to grow or a team aiming to make the whole greater than the sum of your parts - I’d love to hear from you.