Career Possibilities: Business Development, Alliance Management, Innovation, Licensing

In the world of business, careers are no longer linear or predictable. What was once a clearly sign-posted path as you progressed through milestones, a career road map is now circuitous presenting new challenges and opportunities at every bend. Life-long careers in one sector or one company are becoming a rarity as new technologies and shifting social norms disrupt traditional careers. Both employers and employees are seeking more diversity of experience, lifestyle flexibility and alternative paths.

This panel is designed to help you think about your career path and the different options that are open to you. The panel will have an informational interview type feel with panelists sharing their career paths, a look at what their job entails, transferrable skills for those looking to make a change, tips for uncovering opportunities, advice for others, and how to make brave leaps. 


Panelists included:

  • Aimee Cardwell, Vice President of Consumer Product Development, American Express
  • Chesley M. Chen, entrepreneur, Chief Executive Officer, and Board Member
  • Tatiana Demidova-Rice, Manager, Research Contracts and Collaborations, Vertex Pharmaceuticals 
  • Cecilia Fernandez, Senior Director, Platform Strategy and Operations at Editas Medicine
  • Jessica Goodman, Senior Director, Alliance Management, Dicerna Pharmaceuticals
  • Anne-Laure Grillot, Senior Director, External Innovation, Business Development at Vertex Pharmaceuticals
  • Hila Bahar, Associate Director, Center of Excellence Strategic Alliance Management, Takeda 
  • Deborah Palestrant, Partner, Head of 4:59 at 5AM Ventures



Date and Time:  
December 5, 2019
6:00 - 8:30 PM

6:00-6:10pm: Registration, mingling, and pizza
6:10-6:30pm: Facilitated networking
6:30-7:30pm: Panel discussion
7:30-8:15pm: Small group speed networking

8:15-8:30pm: Optional networking 

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Cambridge, 300 Third Street, Bella A, Cambridge, MA 02142

We appreciate Alnylam Pharmaceuticals donating the use of their event space.

Members, Postdocs, Students: $15; Non-Members: $40

Given our mission is to promote women's development in STEM we would like to offer a one-time free spot in our workshops to those in transition between jobs. Please contact [email protected] if you qualify.


Hila Bahar, PhD MBA is an Associate Director at the Center of Excellence Strategic Alliance Management, R&D Partnership Office at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, where she is responsible for leading and developing the Allinces’ Healthcheck initiative and managing its outcomes. Before joining the Center of Excellence, Hila was a senior Alliance Manager at Takeda’s Immon-Oncology Drug Development Unit where she was responsible for leading and developing the Alliance Management function, including managing large and complex pre-clinical and early clinical stage Alliances focusing on biologics and cell therapy. Prior to that, she was a Director of Research at Radius Health was the scientific lead for Abaloparatide (Tymlos) for the treatment of osteoporosis, her role included managing all the external collaborations for the development of the drug. Hila completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. She earned her PhD in Medical Sciences and MBA from Tel Aviv University in Israel.   

Aimee Cardwell has been at American Express for 4 years. Her day job is Vice President of Consumer Product Development, but she’s also leading or participating in a half-dozen “extra credit” projects across the organization. She mentors employees at all levels, participates in the diversity program, leads a team of engineers who work to improve developer experience, and was recently tapped to help change the way engineering teams work with their business counterparts. Having started in the tech industry as a project manager, Aimee has been leading teams (both willing and resistant) for over 20 years. She has built, rebuilt, and shepherded globally branded mobile experiences and websites for companies such as eBay, Expedia, Netscape, and Sega. 

Chesley M. Chen is an entrepreneur, Chief Executive Officer, and Board Member. He is currently launching two digital health start-ups as CEO of g.Root Biomedical and as Strategic Advisor of MindMics. Prior to that, he was CEO of Safety Partners. Chesley has over 30 years experience in launching, scaling, and reinventing businesses in life sciences, high tech, and financial services with firms that include Health Dialog, Good Measures, VWR, Goldman Sachs, and Hughes Aircraft Company. Chesley holds a BS in Civil Engineering from Tufts University, an SM in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT, and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. He dedicates his time to mentoring new and promising CEO’s with strong science and technology backgrounds. Chesley serves on the Strategic Advisory Board of the U Mass Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Tufts Launchpad Accelerator Evaluation Committee. He is a devoted family man, rock climber, and black belt in Shotokan karate.

Cecilia A. Fernández, PhD, MBA, is Senior Director of Platform Strategy and Operations at Editas Medicine where she spearheads the vision and implementation of the technology strategy to build the Company’s genome-editing platform. She also chairs the Company’s Leadership Community and is a member of the Board of Overseers at the Museum of Science. Earlier in her career, Cecilia held roles of increasing responsibility at Novartis Institutes of Biomedical Research, Predictive Biosciences, and T2Biosystems. She has lead teams in research, development, tech transfer, manufacturing engineering and operations. Cecilia holds a PhD in Applied Science from MIT, an MBA from the executive MBA program at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Boston University.  She completed post-doctoral training as a Harvard Medical School fellow at Children’s Hospital Boston.

Jessica Goodman, PhD, is currently a Senior Director of Alliance Management at Dicerna Pharmaceuticals where she is responsible for establishing and maintaining successful, value-generating R&D pharmaceutical alliances by supporting productive working relationships, removing non-scientific barriers, and identifying ways to minimize risk. Prior to joining Dicerna, Jessica led the Corporate Alliances team at Harvard’s Office of Technology Development (OTD), where she used alliance and project management to maximize the value of early stage research alliances. Before OTD, Jessica held multiple alliance, project, and program management positions including at a small ALS non-profit, Prize4Life, and at Biogen. Jessica holds a PhD in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University and was a NIH NRSA postdoctoral fellow at the Whitehead Institute.

Deborah Palestrant, Ph.D., M.B.A joined 5AM Ventures in 2018 as Partner, Head of 4:59. Previously, Dr. Palestrant was Vice President of Corporate Development & Strategy at Relay Therapeutics, where she executed business strategy including alliances, partnerships, and other collaborations and led communications. She has over 15 years of life sciences industry experience including drug discovery, company creation, operations, business development, and strategy. Following her postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Palestrant was a lab head at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, where she advanced multiple structure-based drug discovery programs. In 2010, Dr. Palestrant joined Third Rock Ventures as a senior associate and helped to build and launch Blueprint Medicines (NASDAQ: BPMC). Upon its launch, Dr. Palestrant served an interim role in operations at Blueprint Medicines. Subsequent to her return to Third Rock Ventures, Dr. Palestrant helped to conceive and launch Editas Medicine (NASDAQ: EDIT), and as part of the original founding team, she led the business development group until joining Relay Therapeutics. Dr. Palestrant holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biophysics from Columbia University, an M.B.A from Northeastern University, and was Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at The Scripps Research Institute. She is based in the Boston, MA office.