In celebration of International Women’s Day, we sought inspiration from women IP leaders across our network, who gave candid advice for their ‘younger selves’ having succeeded in STEM against the odds. Here’s what they had to say:
Gabriele Mohsler – VP Patent Development at Ericsson:
“Always be yourself. There are situations where it would be easier, or at first glance better for you, not to speak up. However, it is always worth speaking up and sharing your honest thoughts and not pretending to be somebody else. At the end of the day it will pay off.”
Catherine Dorion – Head of Intellectual Property at Suez:
“Throughout the years, I realise that what I like the most is to face challenges: building new organisations and developing people, as well as developing my own expertise and other skills. Relying on your own strong expertise is one of the things that make you confident to face challenges and seize opportunities.
A few years ago, I followed a mentoring program with a top executive, having a completely different profile than myself, and that has helped me a lot in broadening my vision of the company. I also learned (and I am still learning) to adapt my communication and to embrace the strategic issues of the company rather than stay focused on my own goals as an expert. Helping the members of my team to transition from experts to business partners is also a great experience. I am lucky to have talented young women in my team, and I am very impressed at their self-confidence, entrepreneurship and enthusiasm.”
Claire Goodier – Director of International IP at Walgreens Boots Alliance:
“Ask questions, be curious and listen
Have an opinion and share it – It IS worth hearing
Continue to be brave and fearless
Don’t let anyone, including yourself, tell you ‘you are not worthy’. At every turn you will prove them wrong and succeed.”
Karen Linehan – EVP and General Counsel at Sanofi:
“Seize the day. Death lasts for a long time and you live only once so don’t be afraid of trying things.”
Corinna Sundermann – Senior Vice President Intellectual Property at Fresenius Kabi:
“Do not speculate on whether you are able to do something, start doing it.
No female career exists without broad-mindedness to mess and dirt. Cleaning does not take you anywhere but takes time.
Your child has a father.
Never forget – not all criticism is valuable”
“My first thought was that advice for my younger self includes advice for me yesterday as well as me 5, 10 or 20 years ago. We are learning and developing all the time and what we do and achieve today is constantly building upon our past experiences. Having said that, there are some specific pieces of advice that I wished I had known when I was starting out and progressing through my career:
Never be afraid of taking on a new challenge. Be the first volunteer, say “Yes” when asked, never think that you can’t do something – you may surprise yourself.
Build a network of colleagues. They will be ones that will support and encourage you and will be there to advise when things don’t go according to plan – and recognise that there will always be times when things won’t go according to plan!
Follow a passion. For example, you might be interested in sports law, so build an expertise around that interest – you’ll enjoy the work and your enthusiasm for the subject will be infectious.
Call out discrimination when you see it, whether it is against yourself or anyone else.
Learn how you best negotiate. It is an essential skill for your entire career, there will always be a goal to achieve: better pay, a promotion, to work more flexibly, have a secondment, take a career break, secure a new job or even negotiate your retirement options.
Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed, but never underestimate yourself.”
Advice from our colleagues at Adamson & Partners:
Rene Chung – Partner & Practice Head – IP Licensing and Monetisation at Adamson & Partners
“Take risks and embrace changes even if they make you feel uncomfortable sometimes. Don’t over plan every details of your life and enjoy the surprises that come at you.
Even though I left the engineering profession to go into executive search, I will always be grateful for the problem solving mindset and analytical skills which I acquired as an engineer, as well as the wide breadth of career choices that were open to me because of my training.”
Milli Bouri – Partner & Practice Head – M&A Transactions at Adamson & Partners
“In whatever role we play as women, we learn to adapt, remain strong and continue to grow. What I would say to my younger self is to remember to be comfortable and confident in your individuality. To not be afraid of building your visibility and credibility when taking on new opportunities, if you have an idea explore it!”
Anna Bowen – Head of Research at Adamson & Partners
“Have the courage of your convictions and do as much as you can to quash self-doubt. In the first lecture I ever attended at Oxford, we were invited to “close your eyes and raise your hand if you feel you don’t deserve to be here” – the revelation that the entire auditorium had the same delusion was a powerful one. ‘Imposter syndrome’ is certainly not exclusive to women, but it took me a long time (not to mention a wealth of amazing mentors) to recognise how powerful a tool self-belief can be.
Examine your own privilege, and how you can best use it to benefit others who don’t have your advantages. It’s possible to be both ‘oppressor and oppressed’ simultaneously. Challenging the status quo is always tough, but complicity is worse. Keep a really open mind to being wrong, continuously learning, and doing better when you know better.
Call out biases or bad behaviour where you see them, especially in a professional setting. If you’re less confrontational by nature, being questioning or humorous in your approach can still go a long way to effectively challenging things.”
Verity Heir – Marketing Executive at Adamson & Partners
“You don’t have to be more like ‘someone else’ to be successful in your career. You already bring your own set of skills, strengths and character to the table, which you can individually harness and grow.”
Jessica Wohlert – Senior Research Associate at Adamson & Partners
If you are looking to develop and grow your IP and Legal departments, we would be delighted to assist. Whether you are looking for your next career opportunity, help expanding your team, or assistance with mergers and acquisitions, contact us today for a confidential discussion.