International Women’s Day 2020: Kath MacKay, Alderley Park

Kath MacKay, MD at Alderley Park

This International Women’s Day we spoke to Dr Kath MacKay, Managing Director at Alderley Park.

Kath joined Bruntwood Sci-Tech’s Alderley Park from Innovate UK, where she was the Director for Ageing Society, Health and Nutrition, leading a team focussed on growing and scaling businesses. Kath has a PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Manchester and has a background in commercial business development and operations for private sector life science companies.

When did you start at Alderley Park?
I joined Alderley Park in October 2019. Prior to this I led the life science team at Innovate UK, the prime channel by which government incentives innovation in business. I’m naturally curious and formerly a scientist.

What does your role involve now?
I’m Managing Director of Alderley Park, the UK’s largest single site life science campus. I’m tasked with setting out the strategy for the site, and realising the vision of becoming a world leading life science and technology innovation campus.

What makes a good leader?
An individual who can create and then standby a compelling vision. Someone who can clearly articulate what needs to be delivered and ruthlessly prioritises around that. Someone who is visible in the organisation and leads by example. An individual who recognises and supports talent and provides opportunities for others.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?
Find a mentor – someone who can provide sound guidance who is outside of your organisation or reporting lines. Be ambitious and seek new opportunities.

What does it take to be successful in research?
Success in research can mean different things to different people. It can mean publishing papers in high impact journals, leading a scientific team, founding and scaling a business or making a breakthrough discovery. There are some common attributes that apply to all – you’ll need collaboration in spades and the ability to bring together different groups to work together. You’ll need resilience and the ability to learn from knockbacks (negative data though to funding issues). You’ll need a solid understanding of how your finding will make money, why they will use it, who will use it, and how they can find out about it.

How can we encourage more women to take up roles in science?
If you can’t see it you can’t be it – we need to provide a platform for our female scientific leaders.

Which fellow businesswomen do you admire?
Emma Walmsley, CEO of GSK, was the first female leader of the company and is now the highest paid female FTSE100 exec. She’s overhauled the strategy and forged new partnerships in the cancer space and in genetic testing. Bethany Koby of Technology Will Save Us is a technologist and designer who has created a business providing STEAM play experiences inspiring the next generation of makers, coders and designers.

Can you tell us about some of the female entrepreneurs at Alderley Park?                                                                                                        There are so many to choose from! Ruth Roberts founded Apconix, a drug safety company, after coming to the Alderley Park Accelerator with an idea on the back of a napkin. It’s a success company working across the globe with a European HQ. Tiffany Thorn, CEO of BiVictriX, is leading a company developing first in class Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs) to target unmet medical need in blood cancer.

For more information about Alderley Park please click here