Amy Schulman, managing partner at venture capital firm Polaris Partners and co-founder of the Polaris Innovation Fund, was recently elected to Caltech's Board of Trustees.
Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Schulman earned her BA in philosophy and English from Wesleyan University, where she was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, and her JD from Yale Law School. Along with her role as a managing partner at Polaris Partners, she is the executive chair of Lyndra Therapeutics, which she co-founded and served as the company's first CEO. She is chair of the board of directors of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, and a member of the board of trustees at Mount Sinai Hospital, Singapore's Health and Biomedical Sciences International Advisory Council, and the LifeSci NYC Advisory Council. She was a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School.
Prior to joining Polaris, Schulman was executive vice president, general counsel, and president of Pfizer Nutrition, and later became president of Pfizer Consumer Healthcare.
Schulman has received numerous awards and recognitions. She is the recipient of Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award and was included on Scientific American's Worldview 100 List, Fierce Biotech's Top 15 Women in Biotech, and Fortune magazine's 50 Most Powerful Women in Business.
She reflects on her career, her passions, and the Institute below.
What have you learned during your career that you think others should know?
Listen to others—deeply and with a curious, engaged mind. Few of us (and certainly not I) are as capable of multitasking as we like to think. If I find I am bored or frustrated, usually there is something I should be doing differently, not the other person. I've learned that it's usually much more important to learn what matters to others than to express my own point of view. But equally, and paradoxically, I often am reminded how important it is to be explicit about my thinking and approach rather than assume others understand or see me as I intend.
What is your passion in life?
People—friends, colleagues, family.
What do you find most interesting or inspiring about Caltech?
I still have so much to learn, but what drew me in are the people I met during this process and the core commitment to the centrality of thought and experimentation in the role of a just, equitable, and thriving society. The role of science and academia in the coming years is critical and changing, and Caltech is poised to be at the forefront of these challenges.