Jill of All Trades, Master of One: Making Intentional Career Moves
Founding Member | Dreamers // Doers
Venture Fellow | FundRx
Industry Advisor | Columbia Healthcare Ventures
Health Innovation Fellow | HITLAB
Board Member | Creative Reaction Lab
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.
Ambassador | Women in Innovation
MPH, Behavioral Science, Management and Digital Health Focus | Columbia University
BA Psychology | Hampton University
Lona Vincent is designing her own path toward becoming a “Jill of all trades, master of one” – exposing herself to multiple areas of business but focusing on leadership and inspiring people with a common vision. Her deliberate decisions have exposed her to various roles within the world of business: strategy, marketing, operations, negotiations and deal-structuring, product development, digital and data science, and now design.
Vincent is passionate for the advancement of women and underrepresented minorities. She’s excited by the momentum created by communities like Women in Innovation, Dreamers//Doers, and Women in VC (each of which she is a member). These communities are demanding action and building momentum around women in leadership positions. Lona challenges herself to seek out opportunities that will grow her skill level and teach her lessons that will support her when she launches her future venture. She shares her journey with our Program Manager, Sharon Mwale, about being intentional in her career, effectively communicating her desires and seeking out ways to strengthen her weakness.
Looking back at your early career choices and academic pursuits – was becoming an entrepreneur part of your plan?
Yes! My family has a long history of starting and running their own business. In a system that was not designed for my community to succeed, it was a necessity for my family to create their own opportunities to achieve the American dream. Some of these businesses were successful and some were learning opportunities, but the value of this exposure has shaped my education, my career path, and my legacy. I want to lead a business and I think it’s important to know what success looks like in each of the core functions. This inspired me to learn to cultivate expertise along the entire entrepreneurial process, from ideation to launch.
What makes a good leader? Is a leader born or can he/she be shaped?
Leaders can be born and shaped. I agree with the saying from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, “some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em.” Some people are natural born leaders. Some work hard to rise to leadership positions. Some are handed leadership roles.
I was never handed a leadership role. I’m growing as a leader every day and that excites me, especially reflecting on my transformation over the years. I’ve built a career of diverse positions, all outside of my educational training, because I exemplify key qualities – drive, commitment, and leadership – that translate to, and reassures, decision makers that I am the right fit and can execute on a vision.
From your experience, what has changed the least, yet still has a major impact regarding gender parity within entrepreneurship, technology and healthcare?
Every corporation, every start up, and every major media outlet is talking about diversity and gender parity and that is a shift in our industry. But it is just a conversation. It is still rare to see women in C-suite positions in Fortune 500 healthcare corporations, leading tech startups or making investment decisions in venture. We know that inclusion, equity, and belonging will turn talk into action but we also have to demand a seat at the table. People in our communities, women and persons of color can take a chance on themselves. It’s important that we show up, submit ourselves for consideration on boards and in leadership roles, and lift as we climb.
What is your advice to women and what actionable steps can they take as leaders or aspiring entrepreneurs in the health & tech industries?
- Ask for what you want.So many women are afraid to hear the word no but entrepreneurship is not about the no, it’s about getting to the yes. You only need one yes.
- Build a community.Most of my opportunities came from within my network. Go to events, join the discussion, and build a community. Entrepreneurs survive through networks and relationships.
- Develop a point of view.Show up with something to say. Develop your perspective on the future of innovation, tech and healthcare. Use your unique voice to shape your personal brand.
Lecky’s Final ThoughtsThe flow of VC dollars is overwhelmingly biased toward men, with only a few cents of each VC dollar going to female founders. Based on a 2018 study by PitchBook, venture capital deals for companies with all female founders totaled approximately 2.14%, or, $30 million out of a total $100 billion dollars of venture capital investment. Of the 2.14%, Latina and Black women raised .32% and .0006%, respectively.
Women are setting their own tables and now more than ever we are seeing significant support of and by women for women. We are creating opportunities by positioning women, growing our networks, educating and of course, financially investing. While we have a long way to go, but we must continue this fight for financial security and entrepreneurial independence.
If you would like to recommend a female entrepreneur in healthcare technology to be featured, we encourage you to contact us.
Sharon Mwale Program Manager [email protected]