6th Annual Women’s Summit Looks Forward: Boldly, Bravely, Fearlessly

“Why do we need a forum like this? For me, it’s about the importance of the diversity of thought, which brings about innovation,” Bahija Jallal, Executive Vice President, AstraZeneca and Head of MedImmune, said as she kicked off the Women’s Summit.

The event, now in its sixth year, is an AstraZeneca and MedImmune employee-driven, grassroots effort that heightens the awareness of diversity and inclusion, underscores the importance of advocacy, and provides insights and tools for professional growth and development. The inaugural event in 2012 began at the suggestion of a few scientists in Gaithersburg to help women and men network, build leadership skills and engage on topics particularly relevant to women in the workplace. 

Bahija Jallal gave opening remarks in Gaithersburg, MD at AstraZeneca’s 6th Annual Women’s Summit.

The Women’s Summit is a day for our employees to hear from thought-provoking speakers, join interactive breakout sessions, network, and have candid conversations with senior leaders. Our Gaithersburg, MD site has hosted the summit for five years, and for the first time this year the event spanned several US sites including: Wilmington, DE; Mountain View, CA; Waltham, MA; and Mt. Vernon, IN. There was also a live webcast stream for field-based employees. More than 1,700 employees in total, consisting of both women and men, joined in the event.

This year’s theme, “Forward: Boldly, Bravely, Fearlessly,” challenged employees to think about how we can embody these words in our development and as advocates for others. We welcomed three external speakers who shared their experiences and visions for the future of women.

Kathrine Switzer, author, speaker and the first woman to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon in 1967, shared her inspirational story of breaking through gender barriers as an athlete. “Life is to participate, not to spectate,” she said. 

Kathrine Switzer proudly showed her race bib from 1967, when she first ran the Boston Marathon. 

Ari Wallach, Founder and CEO of Synthesis Corp., challenged attendees to envision their own personal headline for ten years from now in 2027, and think well beyond short-lived, day-to-day wins. 

Ari Wallach talked about envisioning your future and taking the right steps to get there. 

Award-winning songwriter and musician, Jennifer Schott, encouraged women to think of themselves as the CEOs of their own careers and prove to others and themselves that they have what it takes to succeed. 

Jennifer Schott shared her experience working in a male-dominated industry during her keynote presentation. 

Participants also heard directly from AstraZeneca and MedImmune senior leaders, including Ruud Dobber, President, AstraZeneca US and Executive Vice President, North America; Pam Cheng, Executive Vice President, Operations and Information Technology; Sean Bohen, Executive Vice President, Global Medicines Development and Chief Medical Officer, and several others. 

Question and answer session with (left to right): Bahija Jallal, Sean Bohen, Jennifer Schott, and Kathrine Switzer

As the success and momentum of this event has grown over the past few years, we’re proud to continue to bring our employees together across the U.S. to have important conversations about diversity and inclusion that fuel the innovation we pursue in our work.