Meet Our Parents: Heidi R. Wyle

Heidi R. Wyle

RSM: Please introduce yourself and your background.   

I love my life and feel I’m the luckiest woman on the planet.  My husband, two girls, beautiful German Shepherd Espira and two chinchillas Dusky and Primrose live in a loving home on a wooded hill outside Boston.  We have a second home and beloved community in Canmore, Alberta in the Canadian Rockies, where we spend time in the mountains climbing, hiking, mountaineering, skiing, skitouring and iceclimbing.  Our family loves to travel; favorite trips have included the Galapagos where we swam with penguins and playful sea lions, the Himalayas where we met a reincarnate lama, Honduras and Guatemala where we went In Search of the Maya, and London and Paris, king and queen of all cities.

I grew up in Philadelphia, daughter of Jewish immigrants who came to this country to escape the fires of Europe and raise their children in a better world.  I was a bookish, quiet child who loved to climb trees and read in them.  We spent much time with our extended family which gave me love and a place in the world.  I was admitted to Brown University on a Math Scholarship and spent a fabulous Junior year at Imperial College in London where I studied Physics and journeyed throughout the UK with Imperial’s Outing Club, tromping through interminable rain for days on end.

Education and hard work were my strategies for life.  Following Brown I completed a Ph.D. in Physics at MIT, and later after working for a few years at Westinghouse, I jumped into an M.B.A. program at Harvard which I took to like a fish to water and graduated as a Baker Scholar.  During business school I worked with Chris Gabrieli at Bessemer Venture Partners, and then went on to a fabulous career as a biotechnology executive and entrepreneur.  

RSM: Please say a few words about your work history.

I joined ImmuLogic during the early, heady years of the biotechnology industry and enjoyed a wonderful 5 years building that company’s marketing and business development functions. I had responsibility for our two locations in Cambridge and Palo Alto, as well as with our partners in Japan and Zurich, so I traveled extensively for a number of years. It was a perfect start to my career—at HBS they always said “Join a mid-sized company with out of control growth” and I second that, although of course ImmuLogic was small. I then helped some friends start another biotech company while I learned how to do that, and subsequently started two companies myself. The first was a spectacular failure, and the second one, CBC a major success that was acquired by Agilent Technologies in California. I reveled in being an industry leader, especially developing the world leading bioethics at CBC.

RSM: Why did you decide to sign your children up for RSM?

A new study recently reviewed in eScience shows that the majority of female elementary school teachers are afraid of math and transmit that fear to their female students. Of all undergraduate majors, Education students take the least math. The result is that the US is woefully failing our students regarding Math education. Math knowledge, analytic thinking, and rigorous, logical structures are the most important training one’s mind can have. I wanted to make sure my two girls were math-competent. RSM is an incredible program, a gift to our region, and I was determined that my girls would be part of it.

RSM: How long were/have your children been involved in RSM?

My older daughter was at RSM grades 1 – 6, until she entered Meadowbrook, which has one of the best K – 8 Math programs in the nation. My younger daughter was at RSM K – 4, until she entered Meadowbrook. Both of my girls placed into Honors/Honors Accelerated Math at Meadowbrook, and are thus 1 – 2 years ahead of grade level, thanks to RSM.

RSM: What does RSM mean for you and to your children?

RSM is a precious jewel of a school, a place where children are encouraged to be the best they can be in math and analytic thinking. The school has both head and heart, and teaches children to think deeply, broadly, and creatively. The teachers love the students and gently push them to drink deeply of the math world.

RSM: Do you feel it’s important for girls to learn math? Why?

It’s important for everyone to learn math, girl, boy, all races, all religions. Math is key to a successful life in every dimension—financially, employment, life management, clear thinking, etc. When looking at any organization, a financial overview, which is based on math, gives you an in-depth understanding of that organization, and that understanding cannot be achieved any other way. Our world is only navigable through math.

RSM: What would you say to young girls who feel that math and science isn’t for them?

Get a life.  Hard work is required for everything that is important.  You can do anything you set your mind to; persistent work is all that’s required.

RSM: What is it like for a woman in the math or science industry? What skills do you need to be successful in that industry?

With persistent hard work, integrity, compassion and a sense of humor you can conquer the world.

RSM: For a woman to have it all (mother, wife, professional, entrepreneur), how important are problem solving and critical thinking skills?

 No one has it all. Life is always a balancing act. I believe children are the most precious entity in the world (maybe excepting puppies…), for individuals and society. They have to be nurtured, loved and taught, and that requires time. In fact, children are a black hole for time. Work is exhilarating and personally immensely fulfilling. But there are only 24 hours in the day, and 7 days in each week. And success in any area is linear with work put in. Our children need us. And each of us needs a vehicle for self expression. When you are a professional with children, every minute is a resource you have to decide how to allocate. So each person has to make the balance choice for him or herself. Money in the bank is choice and a good night’s sleep. In order to have a self actualized life, each person must navigate his or her own individual course—this navigation is only possible through courage and clear thought processes.

 

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By: Masha   Masha

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