Helen Stimson

Chief Operating Officer, Adesis Inc. • Women in Business 2020 Keynote Speaker

Photo courtesy of Helen Stimson

The daughter of a physician, Helen Stimson aspired to follow her father’s career path. “It seemed like a good idea—until my first experience working on live animals,” she says. Stimson didn’t have the stomach for it, and so instead decided to pursue a chemistry degree.

As the COO at Adesis, a contract research organization that solves challenging problems for clients in the pharmacy, biotech and specialty chem industries, Stimson mixes her passion for science and senior management. (The most challenging aspect of COVID-19, she points out, is communicating to 136 employees at once.)

Stimson started out as a sales rep for analytical instruments at Hewlett-Packard, where for 35 years she navigated a series of positions, each one more impressive than the next. But success didn’t come without some compromise. “Until my daughter was 14, I didn’t have time to sit on committees,” explains Stimson, who passionately volunteers at WHYY and UD’s College of Engineering, and even co-founded a program in her father’s honor that helps professors fund student research.

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“As women, we shouldn’t expect to do everything at once,” she advises. “Life happens in stages, and it’s important to have self-compassion and be realistic about what we can accomplish at each stage—and still be happy.” If Stimson has another bit of advice for young women starting out, it’s this: “Internships are invaluable. You’ll not only build skills but will learn what you like and what you don’t. Also, have a network. Ninety percent of people who find a job do so through connections. Whether it’s through networking events or volunteerism, you never know who you’ll meet—or what the future will bring.”

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