October 14, 2014 The Fold

Can you give us a Brief Bio about your career background and how it has led you to your current job?

I was born and brought up in Patagonia, Argentina.

I began my career as a molecular geneticist.  I studied my first degree at the Universidad Nacional de Misiones (UNAM), in Argentina, which as more than 2,000 kms away from home.

In August 1992, while still in University, my parents decided to send me to England in order to improve my (probably then non-existent) English. It was then that I got offered a place to carry out my dissertation project in a very well respected genetic research group at Leicester University. It was an opportunity to both undertake a research project in an area of personal interest and actively contribute to cutting edge scientific investigation.  I fell in love with England then and when I had to return to Argentina, in August 1993, I knew I needed to find a way to come back to England again.

I graduated in November 1993, obtaining the UNAM Gold Medal for the best academic performance of the year.

I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in Molecular Genetics, and it made sense for me to come back to the UK to do a Masters in Science degree.  Because I loved England so much after my time in Leicester, I returned there to further my education at one of the most prominent research laboratories in the UK, led by Sir Alec Jeffreys. It was that year that I co-authored my first scientific research paper, which was published in the world’s most prestigious scientific magazine in the field: Nature Genetics.  I was watching life through pink coloured glasses and it was all looking good!

Then, life took a turn for the worse and my Father unexpectedly passed away back in Argentina. I had to decide whether I wanted to stay in England or return home in Patagonia. I guess destiny answered it for me as it coincided with me being offered a research postgraduate position at Oxford University.  I subsequently moved to Oxford in 1995 and spent the most fascinating, eventful 4 years of my life.  I worked for Bryan Sykes, Professor of Human Genetics and Fellow of Wolfson College.  We quickly got involved in a number of high-profile cases dealing with modern and ancient DNA, including those of the Cheddar Man, some of which resulted on world renowned bestselling books.

While waiting to be granted my British citizenship, exploring the British Islands and planning my next years as a PhD student at Cambridge University, I decided to give my life a new direction and make a career change into Law.  It was a conscious decision to enhance my strong analytical skills, understanding of complex technologies and their applications developed during my career as a research scientist and bring these unique qualities within the realm of the Law.  It proved to be the right decision and certainly provided a path to a more fulfilling and enriched career.

In 1999 I was granted a very prestigious scholarship and got admitted to BPP Law University in London, which went extremely well. In England, training to become a solicitor demands considerable commitment over a number of years.  The final stage of the qualifying process involves working as a trainee solicitor in a firm of solicitors. Upon successful completion of my training contract with a top tier US law firm, I qualified as a Life Sciences Lawyer and sought admission to the Roll of Solicitors.

In 2007 and after experiencing a couple of years in Dublin (where I also qualified as an Irish solicitor), I left private practice to work as in-house legal counsel within a top 20 global pharmaceutical company.

Last year I joined one of the world’s largest Life Sciences and consumer goods venture capital firm, which invests globally in Life Sciences, nutrition and wellness and operates out of London, Nassau and Hong Kong. Beyond capital infusion and board participation, my firm strives to contribute to the growth of the management teams and companies in which it invests by leveraging their experience, network and relationships.


The Fold Woman: Emilce Vega

 Emilce wears the Russell dress in Burgundy

What is one the greatest challenges that you have had to overcome in your career?

As an Argentine female Law student in London, I had to show that I had the academic and emotional ability to:

– cope with a demanding course;

– compete with a large numbers of talented candidates for the same placements;

– be able to meet the costs of qualifying; and

– find a firm that would supervise me while I completed my training,

as well as have a strong interest in and aptitude for the day-to-day work of a solicitor.

Being able to successfully fulfil all these requirements at once was probably one of my greatest challenge to date.


You worked as a research scientist before starting a career in legal counsel. Why did you decide to change your career path and how did you succeed? Do you have any advice for someone who is considering a similar change?

I changed my career path because I had a passionate interest in growing a business, in developing and delivering products that solve complex health care conditions, in addition to bringing Business, Law and Science closer together.

The best aspect of my work is the opportunity to get deeply involved on a regular basis in interesting areas of technology within the industry. The most challenging aspect is keeping up with the range of legislation and regulation applicable to the sector. I chose to work within the Life Sciences sector and succeeded because I wanted to assist Life Sciences companies, as I have a pioneering spirit in handling new legal challenges, creating new legal solutions, and delivering new value in my legal services to them.

To someone who is considering a similar change, I would say that qualifying as an English lawyer in the City is not easy and there is no guarantee of getting a job as a solicitor.  However, increased interest in biotechnology, the pervasiveness of biotechnology products in daily life, and escalating numbers of patent filings and intellectual property infringement cases, has caused a high demand for lawyers with scientific/technology backgrounds.

For anyone considering alternative careers in biotechnology, the marriage of these two disciplines in a course of study can almost guarantee employment after graduation.   In addition, a combined Science/Law degree provides essential tools for many other career options such as consulting, corporate management and other areas of technology.

Overall, my advice would be to be aware of your own skills, embrace change and always try to better yourself – learn new skills with the ultimate goal of making a difference.  I would say “being a scientist involves a love of experimenting, so why not applying such a skill you display at work already to your life? Try new things, acquire a new expertise, educate yourself more and you will realise there are no limits to what you can achieve or do either as a job or in life”.


The Fold Woman: Emilce Vega

Emilce wears the Chester dress in herringbone tweed

Has there been a particular role model or mentor who has helped you define and achieve your goals?

My parents have been probably my most influential role models in my life – both being extraordinary human beings coupled with incredible personalities and hearts of gold.   From an early age, they have been truly inspiring and have cultivated in me a mental and emotional attitude that focuses on the bright side of life and expects positive results.

From an early age both my parents introduced me to worldwide renowned authors and gurus (such as Dr Deepak Chopra or Dr Wayne Dyer) whose works on the transformation of brain, body and consciousness have enthused me through the years, particularly as a young woman growing up.

As an adult, I continue to be part of an astounding like-minded peer and ‘power’ group, with whom I share similar values and experiences – people I proudly call my friends, who help me to define and achieve my goals on a daily basis.


What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

My Father used to frequently tell me “You have achieved the ‘No’, now go and get the ‘Yes’”.   He also used to advise me “never take ‘No’ for an answer”.  In other words, put all your heart into it in order to get what you truly want.


My Father’s short quote reminds me that if you do not try, ask, question, insist, you are already experiencing the negative results and the lack of whatever you are looking for.  This advice encouraged me to nurture the art of determination and perseverance, which enables anyone to succeed against all odds.


The Fold Woman: Emilce Vega

Emilce wears the Russell dress in Burgundy


As a woman in Business, do you feel it is important for women to present themselves in a particular way for work?

Regardless of age and how long she has been in the job, a woman in Business needs to stop and think about the image she is expecting to project at work.

I believe that if you are a power player, looking polished and professional is just non-negotiable. From business-like jackets to sexy silhouettes, some looks pay big dividends.


What are some of your top tips for dressing for work?

If you are a woman in Business, you must ask yourself: ‘Do you want to be seen as professional? Self-motivated? Approachable? Confident? Skilled?’ and then try to identify how this would look to others – and you will need to think beyond the obvious.  Further, your image also impacts how you see yourself in the job.

As a way of example, being seen as ‘professional’ doesn’t necessarily mean wearing a suit – but will entail some kind of tailoring, so that you could be wearing a smart dress, tailored jacket together with tailored trousers or pencil skirt.  Remember, female elegance must be anything but ostentatious, always maintain the balance and pay attention to colours and shapes.

I have always been a fan of the coat dress silhouette – it remains timeless, whether in the office or in the courtroom.


The Fold Woman: Emilce Vega

Emilce wears the Russell dress in Burgundy


We understand that you have a very busy lifestyle. How do you maintain a good work/life balance?

I maintain a good work/life balance by doing what I love most and what makes me the happiest as often as I can, and that applies to both work and my personal life.

I prioritise feeling fulfilled and free, enjoying my days either traveling, or laughing and most importantly with those I love and whose company I enjoy the most.  I have a charming and loving fiancé who lives in Geneva and with whom I spend my weekends, mostly visiting either Geneva or new and exciting places.   Each year, I spend at least three priceless weeks ‘secluded’ with my close family in Patagonia – they ground me and fill me up with all the love I need to keep me going with my busy lifestyle for the rest of the year.


I love travelling and the sense of adventure that comes with the experience.  I have travelled all around the world and I am not planning to stop any time soon.  I once flew all the way from London to Boracay Island for the weekend!  My motto is ‘live life to the fullest’ and enjoy everything that it has to offer.  Even when I stay in London, none of my weekends ever look the same!

It is my personal conviction that everyone should pursue personal development and I don’t believe that our own improvement and growth should be treated as a hobby or interest reserved for a select few.  I therefore spend a lot of my free time reading, attending seminars and sharing inspiring stories with my peer group and others.  When possible, I endeavour to apply what I have learnt to help others.

One of my passions as a young woman was modelling (yes, catwaking!) and I occasionally model now – in particular if for a good cause and for Charity events.  I have a weakness for real estate investment and I spend a large amount of my spare time viewing potential properties.  I also love exercising, skiing, and…designing dresses!  Although discussing all those activities will require a separate article.


The Fold Woman: Emilce Vega

Emilce wears the Chester dress in herringbone tweed

And finally, what is your favourite item from The Fold and why?

My favourite item from The Fold is the Russell Dress Burgundy – it is flattering, elegant and professional.  With this dress you can always feel well-presented, chic and stylish.


Photos from Amelia Allen Photography.

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