Reflections on raising a child – and a company

I find I’m often at odds with conventional thinking, particularly when it comes to education and entrepreneurship. I appreciate that for many, a clear delineation of personal and professional responsibilities is important, and business should be kept impersonal given the many difficult decisions that need to be made regularly for the interest of the company or its investors; I happen to disagree. My father has shared a lot of advice with me over the years,…

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Men as allies – panel discussion sharing ideas for gender equality

Last month, I took part in a panel discussion organized by the Cambridge Association for Women and Science in Engineering (CamAWiSE) entitled “Men as Allies: Approaching Equality Together” which was put together to discuss how to change the STEMM workplace culture to be more inclusive and diverse. My contribution was fairly limited to relaying my experience as a male scientific group leader who has taken two significant periods of parental leave and so it was…

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Promising development at CIHR: an early career researcher on the governing council

Last week, Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Canada’s minister of health, announced that a postdoctoral fellow has been appointed to serve as a member of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) governing council. Brianne Kent’s appointment to the governing council was made by the federal cabinet, which also has the mandate to manage the roughly $1 billion in public funds that Canada invests annually in health research and to ensure that the expectations outlined in the…

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Taking parental leave in biotech

We deal with a lot of important topics in this column, but none is more important than making personal time for your family and for yourself.  This can take many forms, but often the most publicized (and polarizing) is parental leave for the birth of a new child. As colleagues, we’re typically very quick to recommend that a co-worker take all of the time they need, and as directors the best of us will support…

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Let’s start improving research lab websites

I was having a chat with a former colleague the other day about what happens to scientific research that does not end up in papers. We weren’t talking about negative results, but rather about the experiments that validated someone else’s work, but just did not comprise “enough” for a paper of their own. This got me wondering about how individual labs that are specialists in a given area of science might share their expertise by…

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The ‘Founder’s Dilemma’: to be rich, or king?

Founders and investors alike should review “The Founder’s Dilemma” by Noam Wasserman (Harvard Business Review, 2018). It’s required reading, mostly because it concisely lays bare some hard truths all founders face at a critical stage in our company; whether to be ‘rich’ or ‘king’: i.e. to raise the financing needed to capitalize our company appropriately, and so cede control to investors and lose the CEO position and say over major decisions; or to retain control…

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Parental leave for scientific group leaders – changes needed

In 2016, just one year into running my own lab, I took parental leave and wrote a series of articles about the experience. Two and a half years later, I’m doing it again. While many issues still stand, there are several new challenges and experiences that have made me revisit this topic today. Most striking amongst these is the different roles and responsibilities that have accompanied the growth of the lab, making it nearly impossible…

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Scientific publishing needs to change

Even within the scientific community, scientific disciplines today have become so narrowly defined, and breakthroughs so dependent on so many previous lines of discoveries before them, and therefore subject to competing theories, that the inherent value of new discoveries to the public are only really appreciated within the larger context of the field. I don’t normally delve into the topic of scientific publication, but I will today. Our scientific publication system suits a world where…

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More ideas to close the gender gap in science

Many readers will recall my post from a few months back about my 2019 commitment to share good ideas for promoting gender parity in academic science. Last week I was invited to sit on a panel discussion for International Women’s Day at the Cancer Research UK headquarters in London. I was invited to share my experience as a male group leader who has taken shared parental leave for his kids and was joined by four…

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Young CEOs need a mentor to lend a ‘steady hand’

This post continues a conversation on ageism in biotech introduced in an earlier series: Ageism in Biotech No one is born a CEO, they learn on the job. CEOs become by requirement generalists, and the reason why companies are built on teams. Where seniority, experience, network is a recognized gap, as is typically the case with younger Directors, investors, the company, and its board should strive to solve for this problem. The alternative threatens to…

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