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Verena Kallhoff, PhD, MBA

Manager, Workspaces @ Texas Health CoLab, Dell Medical School, The University of Texas

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Your future job may not exist yet but the dynamics of the world and underlying psychology of people and business are unlikely to change significantly.

What do you do?

I lead Workspaces @ Dell Medical School, a co-working space for value-focused health innovation startups.  I guide and advise numerous health care startups, innovators and inventors on their journey to commercialization. I facilitate the interaction, communication and partnerships between entrepreneurs, clinicians, researchers and other stakeholders who support innovation to reinvent the approach to health and healthcare in the US. As part of the Texas Health CoLab initiative, I develop and lead additional programs that engage and connect entrepreneurs to build a supportive and collaborative health innovation ecosystem, such as a monthly learning series that brings in experts in the field of health care.

Why did you choose this field?

To be completely honest, my career path was a surprising and yet natural development – one step seemingly logically following the next yet, each a turn from prior work. When I was growing up, Innovation Ecosystems didn’t exist, the first districts were starting when I went to graduate school. As I was going from bench research to business consulting to research/hospital administration I recognized that my capabilities made me uniquely suited to work at the intersection of science, research, health care, and business. All the stakeholders I work with - startup entrepreneurs, clinicians, researchers, employees with mature business - have different objectives. So I must be nimble in understanding the perspective, journey and goals of each, to negotiate mutually beneficial collaborations. However, the light bulb that this was my place didn’t go off until just a few years ago, after spending a number of years in each area: research, business consulting, health care/research administration. 

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

All of it. From going to college, to researching, to contributing to a health innovation ecosystem and working to help others achieve their vision --- none of it was on my radar of possibilities growing up. Above all, I wish I had known early on the tremendously positive impact that I and really, each one of us can have on other people’s life. 

Why do you love working in STEM?

I love the intriguing insights, ideas and solutions that innovators and entrepreneurs bring forth. I love the diversity of the people and the diversity of thinking. In my profession I come across a great number of people from all walks of life whose mission is to make the world a better place for others. The challenges they address and the way they approach them are fascinating. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share a little bit of their path, hopefully providing some helpful resources and connections and assisting them to get a little bit further along in their mission of furthering the health of people and improving health care.

Best advice for next generation?

Be flexible, well-rounded in your understanding of science, business, and politics; develop empathy and compassion. Your future job may not exist yet but the dynamics of the world and underlying psychology of people and business are unlikely to change significantly. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Learn to take advantage of your strengths and to pull in and collaborate with people whose skills complement your own.

Inspo quote / fun fact

I am deeply grateful to the many women who have fought so hard for equality; it was really their combined force that made this happen. To think that only a few decades ago women were almost nonexistent in the professional work life or politics, held back from making an impact and disallowed from being self-sufficient. So, I salute the women who have fought for our freedom to live, work, own property, and participate in all aspects of human life. 
Though, if I had to name one hero - I admire Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is driven by doing the right thing, stays focused on the goal, has a wonderful sense of humor and is absolutely relentless. She’s a force to be reckoned with, an impressive woman who has done, and continues to do, so much for women today!