Brandeis International Business School

Helping women shatter the glass ceiling

Nova Diop, MBA’10 is leading the effort to diversify the top ranks of Boston’s life sciences industry

Nova Diop, MBA'10 was recruited to open the new Kendall Square office for Bench International, an executive search firm that specializes in bringing more women and people of color into the life sciences industry.

Nova Diop, MBA'10 was recruited to open the new Kendall Square office for Bench International, an executive search firm that specializes in bringing more women and people of color into the life sciences industry.

Nova Diop, MBA’10 can handle a learning curve.

Diop was ready for a career change when she arrived at Brandeis International Business School. By the time she graduated from the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, she was ready to make the jump from the hospitality industry to the consulting and executive search field.

Diop said her time at Brandeis prepared her to roll with the punches.
 
“When you go to business school you’re open to exploring all kinds of opportunities,” said Diop. “You’re learning and interacting with colleagues and professors with a range of backgrounds, so you really think about new areas that interest you.”
 
After climbing the ranks in the executive recruiting field, ranging from opening a boutique search firm to working at the consulting firm Korn Ferry, Diop received a compelling offer she couldn’t refuse this summer. The firm Bench International was opening a new office in Kendall Square — the heart of Greater Boston’s booming life sciences industry — and they wanted her to lead the team.

“Bench did their own executive search and found me,” said Diop, who is now senior vice president of business development and executive recruitment at Bench International.
 
Founded in 1974, Bench International is the oldest woman-founded executive search firm serving the life science and healthcare sectors. The firm is also one of the most renowned experts in diversity recruitment at the board and executive level, as well as in R&D leadership.

“At Brandeis I learned how to quickly see the dynamics within a company,” she said. “The tools I picked up in business school are essential now.”

Diop is truly a global citizen. She was born in the West African country of Senegal, met her French husband in London and was living in the Netherlands when she decided to change careers.
 
“What attracted me to Brandeis was the diversity,” she said. “Its global community prepares you well for the world. You’re learning from people all over the globe.”
 
Diop said her personal background, professional experience and Brandeis education all combine to give her an edge in her field.

“My background and global experience influenced the way I approach executive search,” she said. “When I look at talent, I look at competency, skill set, experience and all the internal qualities that will make a candidate successful. I don’t look at color or gender for example.”
 
Diop opened the Bench Cambridge office in July, and with a team of about 20, they work directly with clients, and seek talent to fulfil critical roles in the life science industry.
 
“In the Boston area there is a big gap, not only in gender diversity but also with representation in positions at the highest level,” said Diop. “We’ve been able to create what we call a bank of women — qualified female candidates for leadership positions in an industry that is dominated by men. That’s something we’re bringing to Boston.”

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