Life Sciences Fireside Chat Program Recap

Blog recap of Athena Life Sciences Special Interest Group program: Fireside Chat with notable women in science.

Linda Strause, PhD and Sara Gilman, LMFT met because they both enjoy cycling.  They became close friends because, in addition to cycling, they shared a philosophy that life’s challenges could create such deviations from the most direct route to success, that navigating without a map might actually make more sense.

As a scholar of leadership, I often hear inspirational stories about how professionals achieved success.  This is the first time, however, that I have heard a story of the syncopation of two leaders whose paths have intersected with such serendipity, despite the fact that both walked (or rather cycled) their journey without a map and that their respective compasses were not always tracking true north.

Linda, the Principal and Founder of Strategic Clinical Consultants, shared with us that as she was working tirelessly in the field of oncology, her husband was diagnosed with brain cancer.  Sara, the Founder & President of Coherence Associates, Inc.,  shared with us that while she was working zealously as a family therapist to help others to battle addiction, she came to understand that her own son was experiencing his own battle with addiction.  Powerhouses in their own right, each was powerless to “fix” a problem in their own families, related to their respective expertise.  Their work, their cycling, their friendship and their family life worked in unison to help them heal, as well as stay focused on success, as the gentle sway of the road turned at times to hairpin curves.

The sons of both women eventually joined them in their “Mom-Owned Businesses,” and each credits her son with having insight into the business complementary to her own set of skills.

The definition of success varies with the individual.  It would be easy to define both women as a success.  Linda Strause has thirty years of experience in global clinical operations and clinical development in oncology.  Sara Gilman has created a company consisting of a team of counselors and family therapists.  As Sara explained a breathing technique that is used to reinforce the heart’s regulation of emotional response to create mental toughness, Linda ended the Athena session with a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”  I might add that to thrive in business, while simultaneously administering to the needs of loved ones, takes great courage.  It would be easy to forsake one for the other, and the extremes of selfishness or selflessness are far more common than the balance between them.

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By Denise Hummel, Founder & Chief Innovation Officer, Lead Inclusively, Inc.