Colleen Cutcliffe is co-founder and CEO of Whole Biome and has led teams in academia, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology for more than 15 years. Before earning her Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University, Colleen studied biochemistry in a liberal arts program at Wellesley College—which she credits with shaping her view of science as a tool for making a difference in the world.
What is something you’ve learned that you lean on daily?
That I can’t do it all. I’m married with two kids; I have employees and board members; I have family and friends and dogs. When you accept that you’re never going to be your absolute best in everything at once, it creates a lot of freedom.Instead, I set priorities and stick to them. That makes all the daily decisions about how to spend my time much simpler.
My husband and girls come first. I grew up with very strong family ties—we were all home for dinner pretty much every night—and keeping that up as a parent came naturally. My husband does shift work as an ER physician, so our time together is limited, and it’s important to me to make it count. With the kids, it’s about anchoring the day. I can’t be there for everything, but I try to sit with them at breakfast and dinner and do the bedtime routine. My team knows that between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., they’re probably not going to hear from me unless something’s on fire. [ Sequoia ]