5-16-18 - BISTalk Radio - Ellen Chang and Robin Toft


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Women of Impact Series #3

Ellen Chang, COO, Cognitive Medical Systems joins Bob to discuss how she began her career in the US Navy developing analytical strategies for maritime intelligence operations. At mid-career, she left active duty to pursue a business degree and later joined JP Morgan as a banker in their west coast office. In 1999, Chang left to found a start-up in the aviation industry where the team focused on building a B2B aviation part sourcing and brokerage service focused on business jets. In 2002, she joined Northrop Grumman and the team designing the Global Hawk, the US Air Force’s first high altitude, long endurance, unmanned aerial system. Through 12 years she held increasing responsibilities throughout a variety of unmanned systems programs that culminated with a position as the Director of the Advanced Mission Systems Division, where the charter was to anticipate and develop products that would be relevant 5-10 years out.

Upon leaving Northrop Grumman in early 2015, Chang co-founded Lightspeed Innovations, an accelerator for startup and early stage companies in the Aerospace, addressing New Space, Unmanned/Robotics, Autonomy, Big Data/Analytics and Cyber Security. She is also chair of the Wharton Alumni Angel Network Southern California, having earned her Masters in Business Administration from the school in 1998.


Robin Toft, Founder & CEO, Toft Group Executive Search joins Bob to discuss how she is the founder, President and CEO of Toft Group Executive Search, where she combines a deep inside knowledge of the life science industry with a passion for building game-changing management teams. In her 10-plus years in the executive search industry, Robin has placed more than 500 executives at innovation-led companies in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, medical devices, life science tools and digital health. A champion of diverse executive teams, Robin has built a reputation for recruiting women and minorities into top roles, and helping the life science industry overcome unconscious bias in hiring.

Prior to founding Toft Group in 2010, Robin served as Managing Director of Sanford Rose Associates – San Francisco, an executive search firm also specialized in life sciences. In joining Sanford Rose in 2006, Robin essentially launched a second career, following more than two decades as a biotech executive; her prior roles include senior vice president of global commercial operations at Roche, vice president of virology at Roche, and executive vice president of marketing and sales at ViroLogic Inc. (now Monogram Biosciences), a San Francisco startup where she was instrumental in the company’s first product launches and IPO. Robin also served in a variety of senior management posts at LabCorp, one of the world’s largest clinical diagnostic companies, after beginning her career at SmithKline Beecham Clinical Laboratories.

Robin serves on the board of Scripps Mercy Hospital Foundation, The Clearity Foundation supporting ovarian cancer patients, and LEAD San Diego, the only organization in Greater San Diego dedicated to developing civically engaged leaders. Additionally, Robin has been active on American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women executive leadership team and participated in the annual Susan G. Komen walk to support breast cancer research since 2010. She holds a B.S. in Medical Technology (Clinical Laboratory Science) from Michigan State University and a teaching credential from San Diego State University. Robin’s leadership talents have not gone unnoticed: she’s been honored as a finalist for San Diego Business Journal’s “Women Who Mean Business” and “Most Admired CEO” awards for multiple consecutive years. And, under her leadership, Toft Group was honored as a finalist in the Diversity and Inclusion awards, and received the prestigious Athena Pinnacle Top Company Award.


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