I was fortunate enough to attend a truly amazing, thought-provoking and inspiring conference presented by BioNJ, titled Inspiring Women in STEM Conference on December 4, 2015.

As described on its website, BioNJ was:

founded in 1994, BioNJ, a powerful network of 400 Members representing research-based life sciences companies and other contributors to a vibrant ecosystem where science is supported, companies are created, drugs are developed and patients are paramount, has been hard at work in its mission to enhance the climate for biotechnology in the state. As the representative of an industry that has the potential to change the course of human health, make our environment cleaner and the foods we eat safer and healthier, BioNJ is single-minded in its commitment to the growth and prosperity of this industry within the state of New Jersey.

I have attended lots of leadership conferences and programs for women but this conference topped them all.  The presenters, all successful, professional women, some with children, others without, generously and honestly shared their journeys, and the attendees, in turn, shared their experiences along with their thanks.

For me, there were two important takeaways for men and women alike (there were a handful of men amongst the 200+ attendees):

  1. Follow your passion.

I have been so fortunate to have been able to do this in my career, first as a student of theriogenology (animal reproduction), then as a large animal veterinary practitioner, then as the New Jersey State Veterinarian, and now as an attorney protecting the intellectual property interests of individuals and business and protecting the rights of individuals and businesses who own and work with animals humanely for use in biomedical research, companion animal industries, animal agriculture, competition and entertainment.

As all the speakers at the conference agreed, this cannot be achieved without a strong support system at home.  So true.  I have been blessed with loving and supportive parents, grandparents, children and the most remarkable spouse who I am also happy to call my best friend (and who also happens to be a spectacular baker).

  1. Integrating your work into the rest of your life only works if you have the support of others.

Work-life balance is no longer the goal—mostly because it is unachievable.  However, work-life integration is attainable.  It will look different for each of us, because we all have different goals and interests.  And it is gender-neutral.  .  Women may worry about it more, but both men and women do it.

A summary of the presentations and presenters, also available of BioNJ’s website, is republished below.  It you are searching for a speaker for a program, I would encourage you to reach out to one of these inspiring women.  They will not disappoint.

 Strategic Networking: Make It Work for You

This lively panel discussion of women business leaders and entrepreneurs will provide insights on their networking successes and failures, and provide take-away tips for use in your own career. The panelists will answer questions on topics such as how to: leverage contacts into business opportunities, distinguish yourself, use strategic networking to jumpstart your career and effectively allocate your time to networking.

  • Vicki Carey, Vice President, U.S. Commercial Lead & Head of Global Marketing, Praluent, Sanofi US
  • Peggy McHale, Principal, Consultants 2 Go
  • Barbara Ryan, Investor Relations, Radius Health
  • Judith Sheft, Associate Vice President, Technology & Enterprise Development, New Jersey Innovation Institute, NJIT
  • Lynne Anderson, Esq., Partner, Drinker Biddle & Reath (moderator)

Productive Conflict™ Resolution: Why It is Critical to Your Success and How to Use It

Engaging in conflict-related conversations for women is often challenging as most women avoid dealing with conflict, ignore it or hope it goes away. This approach can temporarily remove the immediate conflict you face. However, the conflicting issue will likely present itself again later in life. Doc Robyn calls this the “volcano method” to conflict resolution. In this session, Doc Robyn will teach you how to avoid this and instead engage in Productive Conflict™ resolution in order to gain influence, freedom, success and most importantly, happiness. You’ll leave with new skills and a copy of Doc Robyn’s recent book, The Ultimate Guide to Handling Every Disagreement Every Time.

  • Robyn Odegaard, Psy.D., CEO, Champion Performance Development

A Conversation With STEM Leaders

In this relaxed conversation, three extraordinary STEM luminaries will share their professional journeys and personal examples of leading with inspiration, determination and grace.

  • Donna Tempel, Ph.D., President & CEO, Drais Pharmaceuticals
  • Avis Yates Rivers, President & CEO, Technology Concepts Group International
  • Hilary Malone, Ph.D., Head, Global Regulatory Affairs, Sanofi US (moderator)

Emotional Intelligence: Tough-Minded Leadership with Tender-Hearted Skills

Our ability to deal effectively with our emotions in the work place, and in life, is critical to our success as managers and service providers. This session will introduce the five Competencies of Emotional Intelligence: Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Self-Motivation, Empathy and Effective Relationships — and is designed to provide techniques to help you manage your emotions with confidence and positive results.

  • Michele Brown, President & Founder, IntuAction Coaching, LLC

Work and Life in an Innovative Economy

This session will discuss work life models, current trends that impact the topic, and research on how professional women in particular experience the issue. We will hear from a panel of senior-level women about their experiences integrating work and life over their careers, and provide insight and lessons learned for satisfying work and life while driving the innovation economy.

  • Dawn Bell, Pharm.D., Vice President, Global Program Head, Novartis
  • Traci L. Fiatte, Group President, Randstad US
  • Terri Boyer, Ed.D., Assistant Professor, Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations and Executive Director, Center for Women and Work (moderator)