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Cortex - Life Sciences Insights

| 2 minutes read

Inspirational Women In Life Sciences: Lisa LeCointe-Cephas, purpose and passion

This week’s featured Inspirational Women in Life Sciences is DLA Piper’s own Lisa LeCointe-Cephas, Co-Chair of the DLA Piper Life Sciences Sector based in the US.  Lisa recently joined DLA Piper from Merck where she was the Senior Vice President, Global Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer.

Lisa is the very definition of an inspirational woman in life sciences who shared her experiences, thoughts and insights with Bethany Hills, the Vice Chair of DLA Piper's FDA Regulatory Practice in this interview. 

Tell us about your journey into your current role and why you enjoy it.

[I enjoy being able to] contribute to the health ecosystem, all while leveraging my skill set, my experience, and my education as an attorney. I love science. I'm not afraid of science and importantly, I care deeply for the mission of life sciences companies.”

Lisa’s career began in general litigation and then pivoted to commercial compliance and investigations.  She pivoted to in-house roles, working at two large global biopharma companies, and recently found her way back to global law firm, DLA Piper, where she is Chair of the Life Science Sector for the US. 

What are some challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

“I have a lot of different identities that I'm incredibly proud of, and I faced a lot of challenges related to those identities: being mistaken for support staff when I was very senior in the organization, and believe it or not, people touching my hair in the workplace."

"I think one of the most concerning ones of all (and that I think a lot of women can relate to) is feeling like I had to work harder than my majority male colleagues for less recognition.”

Lisa has consistently overcome challenges, big and small, but retains a focus on the end goal.  She says, “It was not easy…  one of my words of advice for young women starting out is—always be intentional.”  Lisa keeps the focus on delivering the best work possible for patients and clients.  She offered an amazing actionable tip: “Stop, drop and roll” meaning, stop in that moment of challenge and think.  Then drop the negative feelings.  And finally, roll, as in be true to your own story and rise above, turn it into an advantage and move on.

What are some of the exciting developments that you're looking forward to over the next handful of years up until 10 years from now?

“I'm excited to see more female leaders in the industry and I can't wait to have a front row seat to see the continuous improvement, the innovation, the use of technology.”

Lisa deeply understands the promise of innovation and technology in the life science sector.  She also sees innovation in the legal services industry and is excited about inspiring women leading in both areas.

What advice would you give to these women and the young girls who will pursue careers in the life science sector?

“There's no business case for homogeneity. We need diversity.” 

“Stay. If you join us, be resilient, attrition is still an issue for women in life sciences. We see women early in their career, early in the pipeline, but the number of women at the top, at the senior levels is not where it needs to be. So don't focus so much on the obstacles that they seem insurmountable. You can and you will be successful in life sciences if you focused on the value that you add and change the ‘I quit’ to ‘I commit.’”

Lisa encourages all women in the life science industry to find mentors, get comfortable with and conquer your fears, and don’t let the pursuit of perfection stand in your way. 

Next in the IWD: Inspirational Women in Life Sciences Series 

This series features inspirational woman working in the life sciences sector. The aim is to increase access and visibility of female role models in the Life Sciences sector: a recognised factor in increasing entry and retention of women in STEM fields.  

Please tune in for the next feature on Sarah Burns.