The kick off of the Diversity in Leadership luncheon occurred on October 18th and featured the Executive Vice President for Breakthrough Properties, Susie Harborth. As a Vietnamese American who came to the U.S. as a refugee, Susie’s life and career story set the tone for her leadership style, openness to helping others and resilient pursuit for balance in her work and life. Susie has been at the forefront of coworking lab space since she cofounded BioLabs, a global network of co-working lab spaces and services for startups. Currently, she continues to lead the global business operations of life science office and lab space for Breakthrough.
Throughout the luncheon, Susie discussed the intricacies of what life science companies now expect in their space, stating that the industry has finally caught up to the fact that scientists “like having windows” and that lab space can be beautiful, modern and amenity rich. Susie shared that as a woman in the venture capital and executive space, she has often brought nuanced perspectives to these vastly male dominated arenas. When asked in what ways managers can start Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) efforts in their companies, she recommended starting with benchmarking internal DEI metrics, creating a taskforce to identify goals and resources, weaving these efforts into company culture and getting buy-in from leadership. One of the connecting threads through her impressive story was Susie’s knack for relationship building and her love of science.
She left the intimate group of luncheon attendees with the following takeaways:
- Focus on your mission and don’t lose sight of the “why” behind your work.
- For companies that want to make real strides in DEI, focus your recruiting efforts outside of traditional sources.
- Be open and vulnerable with your mentors and mentees.
- Make sure to create ways to bring balance and restorative rest to your life.