This year Women in Biotech platform came back with a topic Women Empower Teams, where four inspiring women from the biotechnology sector shared their stories and valuable advice on September 29th during an online event organised by Lithuanian Biotechnology Association (LBTA) and moderated Agne Vaitkeviciene – vice-president of LBTA – and Dr. Monika Paule – CEO of CasZyme .
Listeners and moderators were greeted by LBTA president Tomas Andrejauskas, who enthusiastically highlighted how the success of this platform from the last year has been a strong impulse for this event to come back this year with new power and new perspectives.
“The positive feedback and support from Lithuanian bioindustry leaders we received has allowed us to broaden this event in terms of geography: the speakers come from different European countries and have completely different backgrounds and experiences. I have no doubts that the stories of these four speakers will inspire you. And we speak about every one of you because the topic of this year’s Women in Biotech is Teams. Teams are the core part of any organization and various studies show that women can be great team leaders because they generally have excellent communication skills, higher level of empathy and emotional intelligence”, said president Andrejauskas. According to him, the latest findings reveal that more women work in the sector of biotech in Lithuania than men, but there are few female executives. “I hope that this event will inspire women to be more proactive, take initiative and shed some light on how career barriers get overcome. Biotechnology Association sees a huge potential to foster women leadership in biotech and the Women in Biotech platform provides a unique opportunity to hear true stories of female leaders”, wished president Andrejauskas.
During the welcome speech, CEO of Enterprise Lithuania Daina Klepone noted that last year went quickly due to a changed reality that was challenging for most women. “Most of us learned new competencies, how to manage professional life with other responsibilities when working from home. But challenge never works alone, it always comes with an opportunity and this pandemic gave unexpected opportunities for some science and business sectors”, Klepone said, highlighting the biotechnology sector. Klepone was also pleased with female input in start-up ecosystem, since last year 30 percent of Lithuanian start-ups had at least one female co-founder and this number is twice as good compared top start-up ecosystems like Berlin of Paris.
The first success story was shared by the Dr. Claire Skentelbery, CEO of EuropaBio, who wanted to study sharks but chose agricultural sciences that are interdisciplinary and wrote her thesis in plant biochemistry. Her studies allowed her to understand, that the scientific idea has to change the current technology or human lives, otherwise, there is no purpose of being a scientist. Dr. Skentelbery wanted to focus not on science itself, but on the impact it has on other parts of social structures. “You should not think that PhD is your destiny to then become and stay a bench scientist. It enables you to do a huge number of things in different circumstances”, she said, as herself found her role in science communication after finishing her PhD, learning how to make complex topics accessible to larger audiences and how to ask the right questions.
After Dr. Skentelbery found the Council of European BioRegions (CERB) she moved from the United Kingdom to Brussels with her family. She recognizes this was one of the best decisions for her career, but it was risky at that time. “Don’t be afraid to take a risk and do something that scares you because it helps you to grow. Don’t be afraid to try and even if you fail you will learn new things about yourself,”, concluded the interview CEO of “EuropaBio“. She also shared what makes a successful team and her view on existing structural inequalities that can be barriers for women career development and reaching leadership roles.
Judit Camargo who is CEO of Roka Furadada, a Barcelona-based start-up developing advanced sunscreens, has highlighted the importance of promoting entrepreneurship skills for scientists. According to Judit, scientists in Spain are not exposed to business development and are concentrating only on academic results. “80 per cent of my team is scientist, but science and business have to go hand in hand since we want to offer a better solution, new products that are market-focused. Sometimes combining business and science can sound strange, but as scientists, we are responsible for having an impact on society,” Judit believes.
Camargo wanted to study chemistry, to understand underlying structures of life and also started working in a pharmaceutical company during her study years. She had an opportunity to work with different business units there and gained experience that later allowed her to start her own company. “Having your own company comes with a lot of challenges, risks, but also brings joy, personal happiness, opportunity to create an impact, learn and develop. Of course, it requires a lot of hard work and sometimes you need to sacrifice some things. You have to understand that working on your own company is very different from academia or the corporate environment. When people were saying there will be a lot of hard work, I didn’t believe that. But I had to do many things, that I never tried before. That required a lot of time, and it was very hard in the beginning. I am very proud of what I have achieved. We managed to raise private and public money and the company currently employs 12 people. I am inspired by my team that share the values that the company has, ” shared founder of Roka Furadada.
Victoria Betoeski, founder and CEO of an international advisory firm for startups and scale-ups The Connecting Architects, talked about her career which started from physiotherapy and then law studies. Yet, she was always interested in science, health and technology. After meeting her husband in Amsterdam, they moved to Paris, where she was introduced to the entrepreneurial world and business angel investing. Victoria told how gaining experience in corporate companies inspired her to start her own consulting company Satori Partners and how unexpectedly long train commute was the beginning of The Connecting Architects.
“Always be open-minded, you never know who you might meet. Meeting the right people that inspire you is very important. Instead of waiting for a perfect moment, you just have to do it and for me, entrepreneurship is a vector for change, ” highlighted the third Women in Biotech speaker.
Claire pointed out that the team is behind all great achievements. Thus, it is important to listen and learn from others, make connections, follow people and always keep them in mind. “Entrepreneurship is like a marathon, so you have to be prepared to go the distance, ” finalized Victoria Betoeski.
Georgiana Cosoveanu who lives in Romania and works for Johnson & Johnson shared her impressive professional experience. After graduating from international business and economics, Georgiana worked with the health system in governmental institutions for 13 years, then she took the challenge and moved to the private sector – Johnson & Johnson company. In 2019 she started her PhD studies. Besides all this, she is also a member of various Romanian and international associations, vice-president and soon to be president of the Romanian Rotary club.
“I chose Johnson & Johnson because I felt company values aligned with mine. For me, it is important to grow every day. I love the job that I am doing for ten years, that is challenging day by day and I can do it for another 10 years. I am lucky that I am in a company that believes in women and empower women,” said Georgiana. She added that family has always been her energy and inspiration source. She tries to be a role model for her children and to make sure they take after her positive attitude.
“I think you need to believe in yourself and the goals of what you do. It is also important to have people around you that also believe in you and share the same values. Think positive, be proactive, be the catalyst for change,” ended G. Cosoveanu that also perfectly concluded the Women in Biotech event this year. We hope we can meet live next year. Follow our news: https://winb.lt
We are greatful to our partner and sponsors: „LRT“, „Enterprise Lithuania“, „EuropaBio“, „ECHAlliance“, „Sunrise Valley“, „Thermo Fisher Scientific“, „2AM Health“ ir „Life Science Centre“.Watch full event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zZ0JLGCYlk