Attendees applaud inaugural NSW women in life sciences luncheon


AusBiotech’s inaugural ‘Women in Life Sciences’ luncheon was held in Sydney last Friday (11 March), receiving a wave of unsolicited applause and appreciative reviews from attendees and appropriately capping off the week that commenced with International Women’s Day.

The Luncheon was sold out in advance and attracted a significant wait list, therefore encouraging the event to become an annual gathering in NSW. The event saw 200 gather at Sydney’s Tea Room, which is located in the historic Queen Victoria Building in what was once the original Grand Ballroom.

The luncheon celebrated and encouraged women in leadership in the broader life sciences and offered support for the successes of women on their journey with networking and inspiration.

The main event was a showcase, interactive panel discussion from industry leaders looking at entrepreneurial and leadership opportunities for women in the life sciences sector, facilitated by Dr Anna Lavelle, CEO of AusBiotech, and featuring:

  • Dr Bronwyn Evans, CEO, Standards Australia, Chair, Industry Growth Centre for Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals;
  • Kirsten O’Doherty, General Manager ANZ, AbbVie;
  • Nadia Levin, CEO & Managing Director, Research Australia;
  • Rebecca Wilson, Chief Executive Officer, Buchan Consulting; and
  • Kathy Connell, Director, New Ventures ANZ, Johnson & Johnson Innovation.

The panel discussion offered women in the audience the opportunity to hear about the journey of the panelists to their current roles, and hear about their personal stories and insights.

Dr Anna Lavelle said: “This dynamic discussion helped people relate to the fact that no one is born a CEO or senior executive and there is effort and line of sight required to achieve that outcome.”

The panelists began by reminiscing about where they were, what was their role and what was challenging them in the year 2000 and then in the year 1990 – as snapshots of their careers to date.

The discussion then moved on to revealing each panelist’s views in response to the questions:

  • What is the proportion of luck, hard work and self advocacy is needed to build a career?
  • Is merit alone a myth?
  • Leadership demands authenticity – how do people see you, what is your personal brand?

The panelists also addressed topical issues that are in the press on a regular basis and important in social discourse about women in leadership, such as targets versus quotas to increase the participation rate of women and what is needed to achieve equality.

AusBiotech extends its thanks to the panellists and supporting partners Abbvie, FB Rice and Trajan Scientific, providers of table decorations, Dibbs Barker, and to those on the organising committee, who kindly contributed their time and enthusiasm to support women in life sciences: Lis Boyce (Dibbs Barker), Jess Gledhill (FB Rice) and Melissa McGrath (Dibbs Barker).