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BIO-TECH–Women Executives Learn Skills to Be Valued Employees



UC Team’s Genetics Research Unravels Parkinson’s Mystery

Hundreds of San Diego’s female executive leaders recently completed a one-day course to sharpen their skills at the negotiating table.

More than 170 biotech and high-tech executive leaders attended the Feb. 17 UCSD Connect Athena breakfast meeting to learn how to boost their value to employers.

Panel moderator Susan T. Major, vice president and managing director of A.T. Kearney Executive Search, a management consulting firm in La Jolla, provided valuable tips on job opportunities, salaries and negotiating strategies.

She started out on a high note.

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The economy is good and unemployment is at an all-time low. San Diego County has a 2.7 percent unemployment rate.

Venture capital investment is at an all-time high, revitalizing the small-cap biotech sector here and elsewhere.

The hiring of “high caliber workers” by local Internet start-ups and high-profile tech companies, such as Qualcomm Inc., has led to a surge in salaries over the last three years, she said.

“Most clients ask to scan the local market before they begin a national search,” Major said.

Still, the demand for qualified workers continues to outstrip supply. Folks with superior marketing skills, and tekkies , individuals with E-commerce experience or those who have worked for start-up firms , are “hot, hot, hot,” Major said. They can expect great financial rewards.

According to Major, local high-tech executives pocket the following range in annual salaries:

High-tech presidents and CEOs make $250,000 and up; CFOs earn between $200,000 and $250,000; directors get between $90,000 and $120,000 a year; and vice presidents pocket between $120,000 and $150,000.

You think that’s good? Check out the female leaders in the high-tech industry.

Carly Fiorina, chief executive of Hewlett-Packard Co., takes home an estimated annual pay of $800,000, Major said. In addition, Fiorina holds HP options worth $580,000.

Meg Whitman, chief executive of eBay, an Internet auction site, negotiated a $282,000 base salary, plus $7.1 million in options at $.067. That equivalent to 5.9 percent of eBay, Major said.

So how can you climb to the top? Major offered some pointers.

Feel free to hop from job to job. Employers value experience more than education, but not necessarily loyalty.

“In fact, I often question why a person has stayed in one job so long,” Major said.

In this global economy, business people who have traveled the world and gained multicultural awareness are most valuable. Women also can gain an edge with prospective employers by showing they’ve led panel discussions and served on company boards.

People who are savvy networkers inside and outside company walls are likely to progress faster, she added. Major also advised that women should observe company leaders in action and learn from their strengths.

That’s especially true at the negotiating table.

“Women are lousy negotiators,” Major said. “They leave money on the table mainly because they don’t understand how to talk about money and feel uncomfortable doing it.”

Bob Glasberg, managing director at Right Management Consultants in La Jolla, said most women he’s come across undervalue themselves.

His advice to women: Look at your r & #233;sum & #233; as your marketing tool, recognize your strengths and look at which organizations will reward them, set goals and develop intermediate steps to reach them. Now is the time, he said.

“Think big in a big economy,” Glasberg said.

– – –

Parkinson’s Finding: Scientists at UCSD and UC San Francisco managed for the first time to genetically breed mice that expressed a specific human protein and showed impaired motor function , both indicators of Parkinson’s disease.

The results of the study were published in the Feb. 18 issue of the scientific journal Science, UCSD reported.

The successful breeding of these genetically engineered mice marks a major milestone in the unraveling of Parkinson’s disease, which results from the degeneration of specific brain cells that regulate the activity of other brain cells by releasing a chemical called dopamine.

“Previous studies have shown increased levels of this protein in the brain cells of Parkinson’s patients, but whether they were a cause or result of the disease has not been clear,” said Dr. Eliezer Masliah, project leader at the UCSD Department of Neurosciences and Pathology.

Masliah said the results prove that the protein dubbed alpha-synuclein is involved in the onset of Parkinson’s.

Webb’s biotech column appears monthly. E-mail her at (mwebb@sdbj.com).

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