Meet Lynnea Olivarez
VP, Corporate Communications
Encoded Therapeutics & Membership Co-chair, PRSA Boston
A recent transplant to the San Francisco Bay Area, Lynnea continues her service to PRSA Boston and her solid growth in biopharmaceutical communications.
You continue to serve PRSA Boston, even though you’re now living on the West Coast. How is that?
Last year, I joined the PRSA Boston Board (wanting to get more involved). A few weeks later, I got the opportunity to lead communications at an emerging gene therapy company in San Francisco. I really wanted to stay on the board and keep my ties to Boston, and in a connected world, it all can work.
What originally drew you to biopharma communications in Boston?
When I studied journalism at Northeastern, I thought I would become a reporter, but after an internship at my hometown newspaper, I knew it wasn’t for me. So, I enrolled in a PR course, and later had the good fortune to be a student co-op at the biopharma trade association, MassBio. That started me on the path I’m still on today. I’d found an industry that I could be passionate about, make a meaningful contribution to, and grow and learn from for years to come.
What’s the secret of your career growth?
After college, I got my foot in the door at a large pharma company, not in comms but in IT! After volunteering to improve how information was disseminated, the demand was so high that I created a new internal communications role. I also made a point to read job listings for roles I knew I wasn’t yet qualified for, to see what experience I needed to get. I zeroed in on my biotech focus by reading trade publications, growing my network and media relationships, and joining professional societies, as well as seeking out mentors. So, although I didn’t have formal science training, I was able to use my communications and writing background and then pick up the rest on the job.
Are there any surprises about PR work in San Francisco?
Not really, since it’s a small world when you work within an industry, and a strong network can still thrive regardless of location.
You were honored by PR News as one of 2020’s Top Women in PR. What was that for?
At my last job, doing external affairs for a CRISPR gene-editing company in Cambridge, I led a brand refresh to reflect our evolution. The award also recognized one of my employee engagement initiatives, a fifth-anniversary celebration and community day, where our 200+ team members volunteered at a dozen non-profits in the Greater Boston Area.
Are there any surprising facts about you?
In high school, I earned a Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouting, which is the equivalent of the more well-known Boy Scout Eagle Award. And, acquaintances are often shocked to learn I hail from Texas, due to my lack of a Southern drawl – although a “y’all” still slips in every now and again!