March is Women’s History Month and the perfect time to recognize some of the women who make our community so vibrant. At the Science Center, we’re fortunate to be surrounded by a diverse network of female scientists, entrepreneurs, and innovators who fuel our growth and challenge the status quo. Their collective success and impact on our community made us wonder – what is the best advice they've ever received? Read on to see what has motivated and inspired a few of the women at the Science Center.
Priya Bhutani, Founder & CEO, RegDesk
This quote from Oprah helps me overcome constant adversities as an entrepreneur.
“Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.”
― Oprah Winfrey
Angela Duckworth, Founder & CEO, Character Lab
Forgive yourself every night, recommit every morning.
Kristen Kahle, Director of Research and Development, Invisible Sentinel
I’ve been fortunate to have gotten excellent advice over the years, including words of wisdom to motivate, inspire, and encourage me. But the most practical and most often-used piece of advice that I have received was from my sister, a talented analytical chemist. Her unconventional words of wisdom: “don’t take the shovel”. While preparing for my graduate school oral exams, thesis defense, and presentations, she explained that every time someone would ask me a question, it was as if they were offering me a shovel. If I chose to take it, I could dig myself a hole by elaborating too much, opening myself up to additional scrutiny or the possibility of misspeaking. A better strategy is to clearly and concisely provide an answer and be comfortable with the silence that follows without feeling compelled to keep talking. This continues to be immensely useful in my career, especially during business meetings and when I need to be particularly strategic in conversations.
Angela McQuillan, Curator, Esther Klein Gallery
In 2013 I decided to quit my job as a Scientist at Merck, and start a new career as the Curator at the Esther Klein Gallery. I knew in my heart that my passion was to work in the arts, but it was still a tough decision to make since an art career offers less financial stability and future job prospects than the pharmaceutical industry. I happened to read a book by Joseph Campbell called “The Power of Myth”, and this quote really stood out for me: “follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” I decided to go for it, and it was the best decision I have ever made. So many doors have opened for me in my art career that I never knew existed. Five years ago I never would have dreamed that I would be featured in the New York Times for my work as a curator. Life is short – spend it doing what you love.
Jeanne Mell, Vice President Marketing Communications, University City Science Center
One of my mentors at the Associated Press taught me to always have a backup plan. Even when the path looks clear and you’re steaming full-speed ahead, if you have a Plan B (or even a Plan C) sketched out, you can adjust quickly and thoughtfully if things don’t go as planned.
Karina Sotnik, Director, Business Incubation & Accelerator Programs, University City Science Center
I had a major career switch after my move to Philly. After being an executive for high-tech companies in Silicon Valley I decided to open import/export retail and e-commerce business in Philadelphia. My knowledge in this field was close to zero. Even though I was motivated, I was also very intimidated about how to approach it. I decided to seek help and scheduled an appointment with a retired retail executive through a local chapter of SCORE. When I walked into his office I was met with a charismatic man in his 70s. He was completely blind but still played golf every day! His disability didn’t stop him in the slightest. After I voiced my uncertainties about how to approach vendors and buyers, his advice was spot on: “The worst that could happen is they will tell you NO. At some point somebody will tell you YES and you will be in business”. I took this to heart, opened a store and was on the cover of “Best of Philadelphia” issue that very same year.
Sharon Willis, VP Sales and Customer Relations, Integral Molecular
The best advice I ever received was from my Organic chemistry professor at Gettysburg College, Alex Rowland. Organic chemistry is an intimidating class. He told us that if we studied 10 minutes a day every day we would do well in the class. He was right. I use and have used that advice frequently - I work on things consistently and large projects become very manageable.
Brianna Wonko, CEO & Founder, Group K Diagnostics
I'd say be yourself! Don't hide your femininity just because there are more males in STEM fields than females. Also... never let your imagination be stopped--that's the future of the world.