Journey to the Top: Lessons Learned Along the Way 


WEST is hosting a panel of C-Suite women at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard for an event called: "Journey to the Top: Lessons Learned Along the Way." Adelene Perkins, Deb Besemer, Kirk Arnold, and Joanna Horobin, four women who have defied the statistics to reach the top of their organizations, will share what they learned on their career journeys and offer advice to other women who would like to follow in their footsteps.  This panel discussion will be moderated by Alice Koehn Benson, Executive Vice President at Coulter Partners.

Please come and enjoy a warm welcome, collegial networking, as well as appetizers, wine, dessert and coffee to round out an enjoyable and inspirational evening.  We do hope you will consider joining us. 

Panelists: Adelene Perkins, CEO of Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Inc

                 Deb Besemer, Former CEO of Brassring

                 Joanna Horobin, CMO of Verastem

                 Kirk Arnold, Former COO of Avid

Meet the Panelists


Adelene Perkins, CEO of Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Inc
Adelene Q. Perkins has served as Infinity's President and CEO since 2009 and as board chair since 2012.  She has played an integral role in building the company, leading its transition from a platform to a product-based organization. She was the principal figure in structuring and restructuring Infinity's strategic relationships which have played a critical role in developing the company’s current product portfolio.  Ms. Perkins has more than 25 years of international business experience in the biopharmaceutical industry, focused on building and leading high-caliber, cross-functional teams, corporate strategy licensing and business development, strategic finance, and product life cycle management.  Ms. Perkins joined Infinity from TransForm Pharmaceuticals where she was an early member of the management team that built the company prior to its acquisition by J&J. Prior to Transform she was vice president of emerging businesses at Genetics Institute, now part of Pfizer.  She joined GI from Bain & Company where she spent seven years providing strategic and operational advice to clients in the healthcare industry. Ms. Perkins holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and her B.S. in chemical engineering from Villanova University. Full Bio


Deb Besemer, Former CEO of Brassring
Most recently, Deb Besemer was most recently the CEO of Gemvara. Previously she was the President and CEO of BrassRing, a leading provider of talent management solutions. Under her leadership, revenues grew consistently, from $1 million in revenue to $40 million until she oversaw the sale of the company to Kenexa Corp. for $115 million. Prior to joining BrassRing, Deborah was president of Systemsoft Corporation and spent more than a decade at Lotus Development, where she managed worldwide field operations with revenues in excess of $1.3 billion and more than 4,000 employees in 46 countries. She is a former Chairwoman of the Massachusetts Software Council and currently serves as a Trustee and the Chairperson of the Nominating Committee. She is an active member of the University of Massachusetts High Tech Executive Council. Ms. Besemer holds an M.B.A. from Rutgers University and a B.A. from Cedar Crest College. Full Bio

Joanna Horobin, CMO of Verastem
Dr. Horobin has 30 years of pharmaceutical drug development experience. As President of Syndax Pharmaceuticals Dr. Horobin designed and implemented the phase 2 clinical development of Entinostat in metastatic breast and lung cancer. Formerly VP, Oncology at Rhone-Poulenc Rorer (now Sanofi, NYSE: SNY), COO of CombinatoRx (NASDAQ: CRXX, now ZLCS) and EVP at EntreMed with experience spanning clinical development, marketing, and general management in both public and private companies. Dr. Horobin was VP, Oncology at Rhone-Poulenc Rorer (now Sanofi, NYSE: SNY) where she led the global oncology business, including the successful global launch of Taxotere® (docetaxel) in breast cancer and Campto/Camptosar® (CPT11) for colorectal cancer. Dr. Horobin also led a successful joint venture with Chugai to launch Granocyte® (lenograstim). Previously, Dr. Horobin played significant leadership roles in the approvals of Lovenox®, Celectol®, Augmentin®, Timentin®, temocillin, Bactroban® and Relafen®/Reliflex®. Dr. Horobin received her medical degree from the University of Manchester, England. Full Bio

   Kirk Arnold, Former COO of Avid
Most recently, Kirk Arnold was Chief Operating Officer of Avid, responsible for the company’s engineering, sales, marketing, customer support and services functions. Prior to joining Avid, Ms. Arnold was the CEO of Keane, Inc., a global consulting and outsourcing firm. Her extensive background in technology management includes leadership positions at Fidelity Investments, venture-backed start-up NerveWire, Inc., where she was a founder and CEO; and Computer Sciences Corporation, where she was President of CSC’s Consulting Group.  Ms. Arnold started her career at IBM where she served in a variety of sales and sales management positions.  She is married with two children, and is on the Board of Cramer Marketing and the Mass Technology Leadership Council. Full Bio

Alice Koehn Benson, EVP of Coulter Partners
Alice Koehn Benson joined Coulter Partners in 2012 bringing many years experience recruiting for the technology and life sciences sectors to the team. Alice plays a lead role in expanding their North American capabilities, building out their Princeton and Boston offices, and working with colleagues serving clients globally. Before starting her search career, Alice had an impressive track record in Human resources leadership and worked for major organizations including Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC), Lotus Development Corporation and BBN Software Products Corporation. Alice utilizes her client-side background in human resources to great effect for clients, leading searches for pivotal strategic positions. Prior to joining Coulter Partners, Alice worked for a major global search firm headquartered in the USA, and was previously President of Prestonwood Associates, leading it to be a recognized search leader focused on the Technology and Innovation, Healthcare, and Life Science sectors. Alice also has volunteered extensively in the local schools. Full Bio

Date and Time:  
March 26, 2013
6:00 - 9:00 PM

Evening’s Schedule 
6:00-7:00  Registration, Networking, Appetizers, Wine

7:00-7:15  Opening Remarks
7:15-8:05  Panel Discussion
8:05-8:35  Q and A
8:35-9:00  Networking, Meet the Panelists, Coffee and Dessert


The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

7 Cambridge Center

Cambridge, MA 02142

Map and Parking Information

We appreciate The Broad Institute donating the use of their event space.


Members: $60; Non-Members: $85

Appetizers, wine, dessert, and coffee will be served.

To Register

Thank You to our Event Sponsors

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