P.MAI Pioneer: Holly O'Dell's trip to China
MEET HOLLY O'DELL
Holly currently serves as Vice President of Legal and Strategic Services, for SAIF Corporation. They set the industry standard in workers’ compensation for affordability, availability, innovation, efficiency and service quality. Their vision is that Oregon is the safest place to work, and they exist to serve and protect the Oregon workforce.
Holly recently took her P.MAI backpack on an trip abroad to China. We caught up with her on the experience.
TELL US THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE YOU
Caring, insightful and stubborn.
WHAT'S YOUR PHILOSOPHY ON LIFE IN ONE SENTENCE?
I strive to use my talents and abilities to their highest and best use, for good.
You already had your JD. How did you decide to recently get an executive MBA?
I’m a lawyer and a nurse, and am currently in the Wharton executive program for my MBA. I went back to school to gain a lifelong peer group that always pushes me to continue growing – both personally and professionally. I thrive when part of a community of thoughtful, engaged, global citizens.
What has been one of your biggest career challenges? How did you overcome it?
One of my biggest career challenges has been consciously maintaining work-life balance. I started my first full-time role as an attorney nine weeks after delivering my daughter. I determined at that time to always “be in the right place at the right time,” which for me, means reallocating time and energy to make sure I have no regrets. The key to this has been constant assessment and readjustment. When the calibration is momentarily off, my family and I can tell!
What advice would you share with others considering a law career?
For others considering attending law school, I would say “Go for it!” You don’t have to know in advance what you want to do when you grow up. A law degree is useful for all sorts of pursuits – first and foremost, for understanding the world around us. Even the simple things – I understand news events more clearly after learning the logic associated with a law degree.
Tell us about your recently China trip.
I went to China recently with my 11-year-old daughter and some friends to tour, in advance of a Wharton trip related to innovation. We spent the night on a rural area of the Great Wall, where a local woman cooked us an omelet with veggies grown in her garden. We practiced new words in Mandarin, and tried calligraphy. When we travel, we meet new friends, and strengthen our understanding of the richness of the local culture.
P.MAI Holiday Gift Guide 2017
'Tis the season! We're gathered our favorite gifts for the bosslady on the go!
1. Appointed Notebook
Every classy lady needs a sleek notebook to capture her everyday thoughts, ideas, doodles, and personal records.
2. Kate Spade Mittens
Adorable and (somewhat) practical, these mittens can shield our hands from the cold while calling attention to get from A to B.
This smart luggage has an awesome waterproof front pocket that looks sleek for any travel needs. Plus how gorgeous is this color?
Given the number of hours we spend on our laptop, why not treat it to a chic laptop case. Plus it's less than 3 lattes.
Hydration is the key when it comes to flying. When taking a long haul, we love spritzing a mist to keep our skin feeling fresh.
6. Cuyana Alpaca Cape
Surviving winter means mastering the art of layering. This piece is cozy and versatile. Plus, did we mention alpaca?
The most compact high-quality GoPro to capture all of life's adventures.
8. Packing cubes
Organization is sexy. And when we're on the road, we want to have a place for all of our things — ALL OF THE THINGS. These came on our radar because they're machine washable!
With the constant noise of daily life, it's important to find time for calmness. We learned 10 minutes a day is all it takes.
10. Slip sleep mask
We used to think sleep masks were overrated. We were wrong. Add a little luxury to your sleep. It's like a cloud for your face.
Stuart & Lau x P.MAI Giveaway Winner
Stuart & Lau x P.MAI Giveaway Update
Thanks to everyone who entered our ultimate His & Her giveaway. We would like to congratulate Matthew Mendez from New York for winning the stunning black pair.
Be sure to sign up for our mailing list to stay updated on any future contests and more.
P.MAI Pioneer: Simone Schuerle, Head Professor of the ETH Responsive Biomedical Systems Lab
SIMONE SCHUERLEWhen I first met Simone in Berlin, it was love at first sight. Her friendly demeanor, chic style, and enthusiasm about science made you want to learn about anything she had to say. Hailing from a tiny German village, Ringingen, which boasts 1500 inhabitants, this young professor is currently the head of the Responsive Biomedical Systems Lab at the prestigious ETH Zurich.
She has more accolades than I can count, ranging from the ETH medal for her doctoral thesis and with fellowships from the SNSF, DAAD and the Society in Science for her postdoctoral studies at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was researching as postdoctoral fellow from 2014-2017. In addition to education, she is serving as Global Future Council for the World Economic Forum. We caught up with madam scientist (and P.MAI fan) on a crisp fall day.
You're only 32 and already on a professor tenure track in a field most people couldn't even understand. What exactly are you working on?
My research is about the development of tiny systems that are applied in the human body and help to diagnose or treat certain diseases. These somewhat smart and responsive systems can react to specific signals of a disease environment, such as characteristic pH levels or molecular activity, and send us a signal to the outside. By tweaking more with their design, we can also activate them from the outside by heat, acoustic or electromagnetic signals, and trigger the release of certain drugs on demand.
While I am mostly working with synthetic materials, I recently started to include living organisms that can be “customized” by new methods in synthetic biology. I specially focus here on their use to combat cancer. It was shown that certain circulating bacteria can inherently locate tumors, and be engineered to controllably induce local cytotoxicity while remaining unobtrusive to the host system.
I propose to advance this promising approach by leveraging bacteria that are naturally capable of producing magnetic particles within their body. With the application of low and high frequency alternating magnetic fields, these living, mobile therapeutics can be monitored in vivo and also be remotely activated to achieve increased tumor penetration, toxin release, and their own self-destruction to provide an externally-controlled ‘safety net’.
My goal is to shed light on the clinical potential of combining the power of magnetics and probiotics, in order to test the hypothesis that this one-two punch may pave the way for a revolutionized cancer therapy.
How did you first become interested in science?
Mmh, that’s hard to trace back, I think it was always there somehow. I was reading and experimenting a lot as a kid, and when I started high school, I chose math and physics as my major. I felt this would teach me the fundamental knowledge and tools required to understand the world around us (at least a tiny bit of it!). I especially loved the practical course in physics, where we built experiments that seemed like magic, e.g., levitating strawberries, until you know the math and physics behind).
How did that interest grow into a field as specialized as micro/nanosystems?
This was during undergrad! I was intrigued by an introductory lecture on micro/nanotechnology and was caught by the very first moment. It fascinated me how literally a whole new world of physics and engineering opens up at the small scale. Different physics laws apply and when I started to learn how to fabricate systems at that small scale - and by small mean length scales smaller than 1/1000 of the width of your hair- I experienced kind of a thrill of potentially discovering something new.
What has been one of your biggest career challenges? How did you overcome it?
I think believing in myself and not worrying or caring so much about what others think about you or expect from you. I wouldn’t say that I have overcome that, but my incredibly lucky and positive course of my career so far helped to believe more in me. But even without positive feedback from outside—which can change quickly even without your fault—one should by default believe in oneself. When I worry about not performing well and someone might think bad of me, I now try to ground myself and imagine the worst impact of that on my life, realizing that I would still be alive and my family and friends would be still there for me. This eases the pressure and gives me some room to just be me.
What advice do you have for woman entering a male-dominated field?
Hang in there! For now, there will be still men who don’t believe in women in their field. Ignore them or better: prove them wrong! It was often hard in the beginning, but in hindsight I think this environment made me even stronger. If times are difficult, see it as a boot camp and advocate for yourself and your fellow women!
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Ha, I hope as happily married woman to my fiancé, with by then adult kids and a lab with a bunch of super excited students and researchers!
How do you think we can encourage the next generation of girls to be interested in STEM fields?
Help them try it out - as early as possible. For example, there are fun science kits for all sorts of age classes. And be careful not to tap into a gender bias for children. It’s everywhere—children clothing that suggests girls are pretty and boys are heroes. All kids are heroes of course!
How Aja Designed a Business that Supports Her Ideal Lifestyle
Meet our latest P.MAI pioneer, Aja Edmond. We were so inspired by your approach of designing the her ideal career based on your lifestyle goals. Rather than getting sucked into the rat race of finance or the Silicon Valley tech scene, she believed in herself and become a leader of one.
TELL US THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE YOU.
Aesthete. Minimalist. Stoic.
WHAT'S YOUR PHILOSOPHY ON LIFE IN ONE SENTENCE?
Beauty. Simplicity. Creativity.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF.I’m a creative entrepreneur, brand strategist, and lifestyle blogger.
I help individuals develop themselves, improve their work, and design a life that matters.
I help brands build strong emotional connections with their supporters through uncomplicated, intuitive, design-centered marketing.
Despite performing well, I knew from the start that finance was only a holdover until I could envision a more fulfilling career. The 2008 market crash was a great excuse to get motivated, and marked the beginning of my transition.
YOU LEFT YOUR FINANCE CAREER IN BANKING. HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO GIVE UP THAT LIFE AND TRANSITION TO BUILDING A LIFESTYLE BUSINESS?
I went to business school at Stanford to buy some time and it ended up being a game changer. I took courses with names like “Interpersonal Dynamics”, “Lives of Consequence”, “Design Thinking”, and “Moral Inquiry through Literature” that were instrumental in helping me formulate a vision for not just my career but entire life.
Before and after graduation, as I was fine-tuning my vision, I worked for a variety of iconic and emerging/startup fashion brands and retailers. It was a great way to meld my strategic and analytical skills with my underdeveloped creative side.
However, I also discovered my entrepreneurial spirit while living in Silicon Valley. And even though I had no intention of launching a high-growth startup, I knew working for others was only a temporary stepping stone.
In 2014 I finally said goodbye to the traditional 9-to-5 and started working toward my goal: creating a business that would support a particular lifestyle I wanted to pursue.
AND HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT BUILDING YOUR CURRENT BUSINESSES?
I created a soul-searching strategy so I was being driven by a clear purpose. I wanted to make sure what I did for work was connected to who I was and the impact I wanted to have on others.
I then experimented with a number of different business ideas before I landed on creating a personal and professional development platform for fellow thinkers, creators, and entrepreneurs.
The concept of “life design” sounds inspiring but is fairly nebulous, so I created a destination that provides actionable insights and resources that help people do their best work and become their best self.
WHAT HAS BEEN ONE OF YOUR BIGGEST CAREER CHALLENGES? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?
I’ve always had this somewhat irreverent, independent spirit which never quite fit with a traditional career path. As a result, I never had any mentors nor found anyone I could emulate.
The most difficult but eye-opening moment was when I also realized I didn’t want to be a leader despite most people thinking this is the epitome of any career worth having.
So I decided to be a leader of self. I discovered that through the mere act of mastering personal excellence I could indirectly inspire and influence thousands of people — as an example rather than an authority figure.
That made all the difference and got me to where I am now with my platform.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU SHARE WITH OTHER SOLOPRENEURS WHO WANT TO BUILD A SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLE BUSINESS FOR THEMSELVES?
One word: Grit.
Anytime you are going against the tide, turning your back on social norms, and building something from nothing, you need passion and perseverance.
Everything I do is grounded in my overall life philosophy and self-defined purpose. This gives me a sort of quiet resolve to achieve what I set out to accomplish no matter the obstacles.