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News > Club News > WIB-Seattle News > WIB-Seattle Leadership Spotlight: Cindy Jacobs

WIB-Seattle Leadership Spotlight: Cindy Jacobs



Cindy Jacobs
Director, President, and Chief Medical Officer at Achieve Life Sciences


Cindy Jacobs is the Director, President, and Chief Medical Officer at Achieve Life Sciences. She is also the Board Chair for Pacylex Pharmaceuticals and a Director for Hibercell Inc. She served as the Executive Women In Bio (EWIB) Co-Chair for the Seattle chapter from 2020 to 2024. Cindy graduated from Montana State University with a bachelor’s in microbiology. She then did her master’s and PhD at Washington State University, focusing on immunopathology at the School of Veterinary Medicine. Cindy then furthered her education by attending medical school at the University of Washington but found herself drawn to research more than clinical care. “Immunology was really rampantly developing at that time,” Cindy said. She worked at Immunex as a part-time staff scientist during her first two years of medical school and as a full-time staff scientist by the end of her MD degree. She then made the decision not to pursue a residency and became an Associate Director of Clinical Research at Immunex. In the following years, Cindy focused on her research, working for Immunex, CellPro, Corixa, and OncoGenex. Her work has led to products like Enbrel, CEPRATE System, and BEXXAR. But by 2015, Cindy was ready for a change, a new challenge, and she wanted to take her career to the next level.

The solution? The WIB Boardroom Ready Program. Cindy joined WIB in 2015 and became a part of the inaugural class of the Boardroom Ready Program in 2016. After completing the program, Cindy became a Board Director at Pacylex Pharmaceuticals, at HiberCell Inc., and a Board Director at Achieve Life Sciences, a company that develops products for nicotine dependence, where she is currently the President and Chief Medical Officer. “I had just completed the Boardroom Ready program, and thought, ‘I’m tired of oncology, so addiction might be really interesting,’” she said. “I was in a totally different therapeutic area, which was good, because when you’re out of your comfort zone, you learn the most.” That sentiment has been one of Cindy’s most important takeaways from her career so far. “Women need to get comfortable with change and being out of their comfort zone,” she said. “It’s not confidence as much as getting out of your own way. Stop second-guessing yourself. Think to yourself, ‘Yes, I can do that!’ and then think of examples of where you already have done that.” The Boardroom Ready Program did just that for Cindy—she was able to move forward in her career with the knowledge that she knew what to do as an executive.

One of the biggest lessons that Cindy learned on the path to her executive roles is the importance of networking. “I didn’t do networking really well in my 20s, 30s, and 40s,” she said. “I just kept my nose to the grindstone. Networking wasn’t really one of my strong suits. But I learned in my 50s and 60s, the board positions were truly about networking and who you know.” By serving as Co-Chair of the EWIB Committee, Cindy created networking events and fostered connections among executive women in Seattle. “Seattle’s a good place for career women,” she said. “Our networking events were the most successful events, but the most challenging part was getting executive women involved. I get the feeling that Seattle executive women are overextended.” One of the ways that Cindy maintains her own work-life balance is by ensuring that her work is fulfilling. “If it doesn’t make you happy, rethink what you’re doing,” she said. “What makes me happy is successfully getting new products approved.” With Cindy’s current work on a future submission or New Drug Application for cytisinicline, a treatment for nicotine dependence and addiction, she has again found that perfect spot. “It’s really satisfying to see that kind of achievement, that NDA endpoint and hopefully a future product approval success, and feel that you’ve made a difference,” she said.

We are so thankful to Cindy for all her work as the EWIB Co-Chair these last few years! Her work has created a valuable space for executive women in Seattle and helped to create a strong foundation for EWIB’s future.

Submitted by Mariana Huben

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