Event recap: A conversation with AbbVie women in science

In March, a panel of female leaders from AbbVie joined us at MATTER to share their advice on opportunities in STEM for the next generation of women. The group discussed why diversity in healthcare innovation matters and how to shatter glass ceilings — or rather, glass beakers. Tara Bannow, a reporter at Modern Healthcare, moderated the conversation, which featured AbbVie’s Joan Byrne, Vice President of parenteral and combination products, science and technology, Dr. Heather Maecker, director of immuno-oncology discovery, Dr. Charlotte Owens, medical director of general medicine and Dr. Kaitlin Browman, senior director of discovery strategic portfolio management.

Here are a few key takeaways from the panel.

Heather Maecker: Don’t be afraid to fail.

“Love your failed experiments because you get results that you weren’t anticipating. While we all apply this [approach] to science, it’s also true for our careers.”

Charlotte Owens: To build the future, read up.

“If you’re trying to create cutting-edge technology, you not only have to have knowledge about what’s current, but you have to be able to read and absorb new things.”

Joan Byrne: Know your questions before you go seeking answers.

“What’s most important is knowing the question you’re trying to answer and then generating the data that answers the question. [In manufacturing] there’s no networking, there’s no ‘who do you know’, there’s no fluff in it. The data speaks volumes and will do the speaking for you…and the more you come in with those answers, the more questions they’ll start sending you.”

Collective takeaway: Mentorship is crucial to success.

One key point all panelists emphasized is the importance of mentorship. Being both a mentor and a mentee fosters skills for professional and personal growth. One notable reminder: a mentor doesn’t always have to be someone with a higher title or position — learning from peers and colleagues is beneficial as well.

Watch the panelists share the advice they would have given their high school selves: