As part of our Leading Women series, we highlight the professional challenges and career aspirations of the women we work with. 

In this story, Grace Zhou, Founder and CEO of biotech company Immvira, shares her experience running and managing a successful startup, an arena that’s dominated by her male peers, as well as her journey thus far as a career woman leader.  

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Q: Most board members today are male, and many industries and enterprises are dominated by them as well. As a female founder, how do you think women can stand out? 

That’s an interesting question. I noticed an interesting phenomenon when recruiting students, be it those with Master’s, Doctorate or Post-Doctoral degrees, many of them are women. However, once you return to the industry after 10 or 20 years, you notice that there are very few women as leaders. It saddens me to think that many of them must have lagged or dropped out of the industry altogether.  

On a personal level, I rarely looked at myself and said: “You are a woman and a female entrepreneur”. Once your female identity becomes less of a focus, you become just ‘one of the boys’ at work. The times when my female identity comes to the fore are when I am face-to-face with the employees at work, and I am there as their female boss. When you have a certain sensitivity to things, that’s when I feel the most female. As for success, and it doesn’t matter if you are a male or female, the key is to be quick to learn and adapt. If you can do that, then you will naturally succeed.  

This is an abridged version of the full interview with Grace Zhou. For the full version of the interview, click here.  

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