Shelia Violette, Ph.D. recently completed her a board member term with the WEST organization and kindly put aside some time to offer some insights into her experience within the Biotech community. Violette is the Chief Scientific Officer at Admirx, a newly formed pre-clinical stage company which aims to fight serious auto-immune and inflammatory diseases. As CSO, she is responsible for overseeing scientific strategy.
When finding her path in the industry, Violette took the advice given to her along the way and filtered what she felt to be the most suitable. When she was still an undergraduate in college, she was contemplating whether to pursue her Master's degree. A professor advised her to “aim high” by challenging herself to get the most prestigious degree at the best university possible. It was this professor’s advice that caused her to change her plans, Violette now holds a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Yale University. As she has advanced in her career she often recommends to others that in order to excel we often have to “push into a zone that may feel uncomfortable at first, we can often handle more than we realize”.
Violette also touched on the importance of mentors and sponsors, both of which positions slightly differ from each other. She explains that mentors are vital early in your career while sponsors are greatly valued later down the road once you are settled into the workforce. Mentors are often there to help give suggestions and support when making integral decisions about your path, while sponsors can speak on your behalf and provide credibility as a worker that will contribute to a company’s growth. Violette has had both during her time in the biotech industry but says the best way to find either a mentor or sponsor is to “earn it through hard work.”
Violette advises that one way to stand out and make advancements in a career, especially as a woman, is to foster meaningful relationships with people of all different backgrounds. Through her ever-growing network, she manages to take opportunities through recommendations of her friends and colleagues. Not only this, but she promises that establishing the quality of your work and staying passionate will begin to open doors for endless possibilities and opportunities.
While many leaders in her field are men, there are still women that continue to inspire Violette every day. She explains that being a part of the WEST board has given her a new perspective on the immense support a network of women can give each other. She has found that whenever she comes to a WEST event, she is amazed at the community that help women in all stages of their career. She loves that she can be a resource to others by offering advice to women in a job transition or who are entering into their STEM career freshly out of college. The organic state of networking is her favorite part of WEST events, and she mentions that even when folks go the events alone, she notices they are welcomed and supported when networking with other WEST members.
WEST promotes career development and networking for Women in the Enterprise of Science and Technology. Learn more about WEST, a learning community that provides women in the enterprise of science and technology with the inspiration, knowledge and connections to reach their full potential. Check us out online at WESTorg and join an upcoming event to get started with the networking.