Reflections on Year 1, with Jodie Gillon

As I hit my one-year anniversary milestone, I allowed my extraordinary communications lead, Caitlin, to ask me anything. So here are my reflections – unfiltered.

Reflecting on your first year as CEO of BioCT, what do you consider to be your most significant accomplishment, and why?

My greatest achievement has been demonstrating our value to members and the State overall. In the current financing environment, it was evident from Day 1 that I had to ensure I was enabling member goals and revitalizing BioCT. Given that each member has different priorities, this involved expanding our policy focus and increasing presence in Hartford, leading not-to-be-missed, impactful, content driven events, expanding our communications channels and career portal, launching a “space committee” to retain companies in CT and attract new talent, and building key partnerships to collaborate with stakeholders for greater collective achievements.

How would you describe the culture you’ve worked to cultivate within BioCT over the past year, and what steps have you taken to foster it?

I am an Epidemiologist by training, starting in advocacy, hospitals and government before spending 27 years in industry. I am definitely more of a startup person, and, for better or worse, move at the speed of light. I’ve been operating BioCT like a startup biotech, achieving much with just four dedicated individuals. We have the best four people (who have adapted to my style!), but we also leveraged our incredible Board and partnered with members with greater resources. Each of us brings to the table what we do best, and for BioCT it’s content and filling any room with the right stakeholders.

How have you engaged with stakeholders, both internally and externally, to drive alignment and support for BioCT’s mission and vision?

Internally, we have established a rhythm akin to running a marathon and smoothly passing a baton. One huge accomplishment has been completing our Board – now at the full roster of 20, with the most senior representation from key organizations. I’ve strategically engaged them through various committees that help not only further BioCT, but the State as well. Externally, I have tried to meet every member (if I haven’t gotten to you yet, please reach out) to understand their needs and brainstorm ways to best support them. My philosophy: let’s jointly further mission matched objectives, wherein no idea is off the table.

In what ways have you leveraged your expertise and experience to foster innovation and growth within BioCT during your first year?

Having worked in every type of organization I am serving, I understand the challenges and opportunities. For example, my last startup was an AI company, and that is a huge area of opportunity, from policy, to AI startups within our membership, through our stakeholders leveraging AI. I have also built out patient, medical, and corporate affairs at many companies, internally and as a consultant, and that included investor relations and communications. Most of our startups are seeking funding or partnerships, and I recognize that success hinges not just from visibility but also the approach. I approach member meetings through the lenses of BioCT, but also as an industry consultant.

Lastly, as you reflect on your first year, what are some milestones you hope to achieve in the coming year?

Taking my first vacation in 4 years and fully disconnecting May 12-25th!  I come right back into the Yale Innovation Summit, our flagship event for the State – everyone should attend. Reflecting on our journey, we’ve swiftly adapted, learning from experiences like our CFO forum with CohenReznick through recent events such as the Rare Disease Summit with The Jackson Laboratory and ‘Office Hours’ with Boehringer Ingelheim. These experiences have helped us refine our approach, rapidly getting it down to a science.

We are breaking off into a Board subcommittee to map out 2025, and we are getting better, smarter, more efficient, and valuable. For instance, our Holiday Party will take place Dec 5th, the evening of Yale Pitchfest, as we partner and introduce everyone to the glorious space at 101 College. My priorities remain Policy, People & Promotion, but year 2, we are poised to expand our operational effectiveness to further catalyze all life sciences in Connecticut.

If I look back exactly a year ago, Stan Choy and David Scheer, my esteemed Board chairs (who keep me sane and make this fun), convinced me over coffee first to leave the private sector, then that I would make a great CEO. I joke the I am the most reluctant CEO and lobbyist, and I went from dubious, to “I think I am actually good at it”, to “I really love it and I can’t imagine doing anything else anywhere else”. So, we are all buckling our seatbelts for year 2 with much excitement and enthusiasm, and a very impressive track record.