detrimental. For example, Heyboer noted that empathizing with individuals is a positive trait; however, occasionally women will over-tolerate, wait too long, and allow individuals to continue too long before they address an issue. Similar behavior such as self-disclosing, being willing to admit faults, being organized, and wanting to be liked should all be monitored to prevent assets from turning into liabilities. Heyboer encouraged women entrepreneurs to assume gender equity exists, to assume that the responsibility for removing themselves from bad situations, to retain a sense of humor, and to remain positive.
During her 30 years in the biotechnology industry, Barbara Wallner personally observed dramatic increases in the confidence of women within the field, and in their ability to begin independent careers. Wallner noted that as a successful women leader, a few key personal traits have aided her, including passion, resilience, flexibility, diverse experiences, and extensive networks.
Within the context of women entrepreneurs, Wallner also drew on her personal experience to discuss the critical aspects of successful biotechnology companies. She first outlined six key attributes of a successful biotech company as seen in Box 3-1.
Box 3-1: Six Key Attributes of a Successful Biotech Company
1. Strong, marketable, and well-tested technology with a high potential of success.
2. An enthusiastic and experienced management team, and a strong advisory board.
3. Scientific and medical advisors to better assess potential markets.
4. A strong board of directors that will influence stakeholders’ decisions to fund the venture.
5. Strong and reliable investors who trust the venture and will provide funds regularly.
6. Motivated and well-trained employees who have a stake in the success of the company.
Wallner next explained the importance of a strong business plan that depends on: the strength of the founding technology, a clear and accessible market of the relevant size, a favorable financial environment, investor confidence, and a defined exit strategy.
She discussed three personal business case studies—Biogen, Point Therapeutics, and Chymic Therapeutics—where scientific research was successfully converted into business ventures. Specifically, Wallner noted that through her experiences with these companies, she was able to learn how to take science into business and to assess whether a certain aspect of science has a commercial value. She noted that her first job with Biogen was ideal because the atmosphere was similar to that of a research institution, where she and her colleagues were free to conduct research and to come up with new programs. This allowed her to move across scientific fields, which helped her understand that one does not need to stay within one’s own scientific discipline. The ability to move across fields is essential to running programs and evaluating what is good for companies.