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This virtual event hosted by Sr. Wealth Advisor and HoyleCohen partner, Elisabeth Cullington, featured Bio industry executive, entrepreneur, author, and speaker, Robin Toft. Robin has built her career, and business, centered around helping elevate women and minorities in the workplace to achieve C-Suite positions and board representation. As she described the experiences that helped form her career and life plans, Robin identified multiple key disciplines which women can learn and employ to become their own financial, career, and spiritual managers – ultimately to become THE CEO OF YOU!

Some background on Robin and her first piece of advice: create a 5-minute story of you! What are you good at? What do you love? What experiences led you to these realizations?

Robin’s initial educational background is in Medical Technology, and she has 20+ years in the bio/pharma fields. She began in the lab and soon realized she was much better suited out in the field talking about science and became highly successful in sales and operations. Ultimately, though, Robin was destined to begin a new career path and after two life changing events, she turned her knowledge and skills towards executive search. This transition is what led her to building her own executive search firm, The Toft Group, writing her book (“WE CAN”), and, recently, negotiating the successful sale of her business.

Robin’s story exemplifies the various twists and turns we all experience, many of which seem difficult and uncomfortable at times, but are often the very ones that teach us the most about ourselves, and what our next move should be. She has accumulated and refined a list of essential tools (shared below) that have led her, time and again, to ultimate success through developing confidence, demonstrating competence, and making connections.

    1. Create a Strategic Plan1, 3, and 5-year time-frames to include career mapping (tool which can be found here) and financial planning/forecasting. Spend a minimum of 20% of your time planning – it has been shown that male executives often spend 25% of their time planning and 75% of their time working, while women tend to spend 90+% of their time working and very little of it planning. A plan allows you to be proactive rather than reactive. It is suggested to revisit your strategic plans at least annually and the same applies to your financial plan. If your spouse primarily handles the finances, become involved – have the conversations, go to the meetings, learn the situation, ask questions, own your financial future!
    1. Build Your TeamWrite down your possible team to help figure out who these people are and consider – are they your biggest fans? It could be as simple as house sitter or dog walker, or more business oriented, such as lawyers, tax advisors or wealth managers. Whoever they are, they should be enhancing your life and providing the support needed for you to focus on advancing yourself.
    1. Get A CoachRobin is passionate about this advice and noted she has partnered with many coaches over the years in a variety of areas – Executive, Personal, Fitness, Spiritual, etc. Not only are they essential to your growth and knowledge building, but they also help to make that 25% of your planning time more efficient and effective.
    1. Create Value/ Ask for Opportunity / Plan Your SuccessionBecoming irreplaceable should not be the goal as this can often pigeonhole you into a stagnant job. Instead, Robin suggests striving to exhibit FEARLESSNESS, by focusing on Value Creation + Clear COMMUNICATION of your Accomplishments (the pillars of competence). In your resume, on your Linked in profile, etc. quantitate your achievements in the context of revenue growth, profitability increase, customer acquisition, cost decrease and customer satisfaction. Think about expressing that value through an executive or investor’s lens. If you need help quantitating your achievements, leverage either mentors (people ahead of you in the same career) or executive recruiters for guidance. Don’t be afraid to speak up and discuss your skills or accomplishments. Everyone around you should be clear on what you’ve done and how you can add even MORE value. The result is that you’ll be successful in carving your own career path.
    1. Build Your NetworkTake the calls and make the connections. This includes present and past colleagues, institutional and professional organizations, coaches, as well as utilizing LinkedIn and recruiters. This does not have to be women-leader centric. Since 95% of the C Suite level jobs and above are male dominated, you will want men to be part of your network. Identify mentors, people you aspire to learn from, and ask them to spend time with you (don’t forget, their time is valuable, and they are gifting it to you). Think about a cause you are passionate about and find a non-profit board to join (boards are actively looking for qualified women). Lastly, know the top five recruiters for your industry and in your geographical area. Once you’ve identified them, send your resume and create that connection, so they have your information and you’ll stay informed of job opportunities.
    1. Keep the Oxygen at the TopWhat can you do to help elevate women and diversity in the workplace? Consider board service and work with other women.


Robin has certainly shown that it is possible – you can achieve anything you set your mind to. She has also provided some very grounding facts. First, women make up only 5% of C-level or higher positions, whereas in bottom-level jobs, the split is closer to 50/50 between men and women. One potential reason for this is that women tend to not apply to executive jobs unless they meet 100% of the criteria, while the threshold for men is closer to 60%. Another possibility is that women will often list the reasons they are not qualified, rather than promoting their skills and showcasing their value-adds.

While these realities are startling, and the great foundational steps Robing shared will undoubtedly help to transform your life, it is up to you to take action. As Elisabeth said during the webinar, you are the one responsible for working out, eating well, keeping your body overall healthy and fit; the same goes for your career and financial life:  It is up to you to take control and OWN IT; it is up to you to become financially fit!


Together, WE CAN!


If you would like to join Robin’s We Can movement, check out her site by clicking here.

For a full recording and video of this discussion, please click here and scroll down to “Educational Videos.”


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Elisabeth Cullington is a Partner at HoyleCohen and co-founder of the firm’s Women’s Practice. Elisabeth has been providing complex financial advice to professionals, business owners, and women for more than three decades. As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, she also specializes in helping women in transition (resulting from divorce, widowhood, and career advancement). Elisabeth is passionate about helping people define their goals and make confident financial decisions.


Robin Toft is the founder and CEO of Toft Group a ZRG Company, where she combines a deep inside knowledge of the life science industry, with a passion for building game-changing management teams. Robin has placed more than 500 executives at innovative companies, concentrating in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, medical devices, life science tools, and digital health. A champion of diverse executive teams, Robin has built a reputation for recruiting women and minorities into top roles, and helping the life science industry overcome unconscious bias in hiring.



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