Teaching That It’s OK to Take Risks
Dr. Ivana Magovcevic-Liebisch JD ’99
Ivana Magovcevic-Liebisch JD ’99 recently moderated Suffolk Law’s Women’s Leadership Academy Alumni Panel. With a PhD in genetics from Harvard University, she serves as the Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy and Development Officer at Axcella Health, a biotechnology company focused on designing amino acid-based therapeutics for complex diseases. Her work covers intellectual property, as well as business development and strategy. Before joining Axcella, she was head of global business development at Teva Pharmaceuticals, where she executed over $5 billion in business development transactions. Magovcevic-Liebisch arrived in the U.S. in the 1980s from Serbia with just two suitcases, on a full academic scholarship. We caught up with her this fall to ask what drew her to the Women’s Leadership Academy panel.
Magovcevic-Liebisch: I feel that often girls aren’t taught to take risks as much as boys and that ends up impacting their ability to climb up the corporate ladder later in life. Women tend to make the safe choices, not necessarily the best choices for their long-term careers; they may not take the risks that help you secure the top positions in the board room. There are not enough female mentors out there, and that needs to change if we are going to get women into the C-suite and onto boards.
As women are mapping their careers, I want them to know that it’s OK to take a job that feels like a stretch—where you don’t feel that comfortable with all of the elements of the job description. I’ve taken some positions that don’t track exactly to my JD, or my science background, jobs that focus on the business side, strategy and operations, and that’s OK. Go outside your comfort zone.