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Women in Business 2021: Nicole Wagner, LambdaVision

Nicole Wagner Employer: LambdaVision Title: President & CEO See all Women in Business 2021 honorees
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Nicole Wagner obtained her PhD in molecular and cell biology from the University of Connecticut in 2013. Her accolades include the Connecticut Technology Council’s Women of Innovation Award, Connecticut Magazine’s 40 Under 40, and the 2020 Women in Aerospace (WIA) Achievement Award. Wagner serves on the Board of Directors of the New England Women in Science Executives’ Club, the Connecticut Technology Council, and recently joined the International Space Station (ISS) National Lab User Advisory Committee. Wagner is president and CEO of LambdaVision, successful in securing about $8.75 million in funding to accelerate the research, development and commercialization of LambdaVision’s artificial retina.

What’s been your biggest professional accomplishment so far?

Translating the research that I did in graduate school into a product with the potential to restore vision to millions of people across the world has challenged me to constantly think on my feet, be resilient, adaptable and to always keep an open mind – it is my greatest professional accomplishment.

What’s the next big goal you want to accomplish professionally?

I get countless emails and phone calls from people who have been impacted by vision loss, and it is my personal goal to work as hard as I can to get LambdaVision’s artificial retina technology into patients as soon as possible.

What’s one of the biggest professional challenges you’ve overcome?

As first-time CEO, it was difficult to overcome the hurdle of having limited experience in commercializing a technology. Fortunately, I had amazing mentors that helped me build an experienced team of consultants and advisors to support me in the development and execution of a strong research and development and business plan.

How has the Covid-19 pandemic forced you to adapt as a leader?

As a scientist and entrepreneur, I am no stranger to unexpected challenges and the need to adapt and pivot quickly; however, COVID-19 has really forced me to take a step back and lead with empathy. We are all in this together and honest communication and flexibility in the workplace is essential.

What are your keys to maintaining business success?

I think it is important to work hard, be authentic and to create an environment that is centered around trust and open communication. It is critical to lead by example; if you aren’t excited and passionate about what you do, it will be hard to get others to follow.

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