Sophie Jones, Pod Leader of the Week

Sophie Jones (center), Principal at Centerview

Sophie Jones (center), Principal at Centerview

Sophie Jones is a Principal at Centerview Partners.

Dr. Jones is trained in surgery, specializing in heart and lung transplant at Columbia University, where she was Chief Fellow and served on the Boards Quality Council. She has been awarded an NIH fellowship, and has authored numerous papers and book chapters. 

Dr. Jones received her M.D. from Boston University School of Medicine, and a B.A. in History from Yale University. 

1. What about your career has surprised you the most?

I cannot imagine my surprise as a 22-year old university graduate, if someone had told me that I would be working in biopharma M&A advisory 15 years later. However, as my career has progressed from the United Nations, to the surgical amphitheater, to investment banking, I have viewed every step as an opportunity to challenge myself to impact the health of humans across the world in a more meaningful way.

2. What about the future excites you?

I do not believe I will ever truly discover what I want to “be” when I grow up. I love the challenge and excitement of a journey, and I find motivation and inspiration from working with brilliant teams of outstanding individuals.

As a world, we are at such an exciting moment in history for the healthcare industry. Advancements in technology have planted the seeds for major advances in the treatment of diseases. Going forward, our challenge is not only to recognize those opportunities, but also to develop an entirely new treatment paradigm, as we learn what it means to be human and compassionate when for the first time in history, it is possible for health to become a human right, rather than a privilege. I cannot wait to see what the future holds.

3. What about the future scares you?

I worry on a broad scale about the development of extreme divisions in society as globalization has created enormous disparities in wealth and opportunity, and individual achievement is increasingly valued over communal well-being. There is no simple answer as to how to decrease the divide and lift up the poorest and most disenfranchised among us. However, I am heartened by how many wonderful foundations are working to make an impact, and I hope to continue to lend my two hands however I can.

4. Which book has had the most significant impact on your life and why?

I think of books in the same way I think of paintings—words take on brilliant shapes and colors in my mind. I read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” when I was quite young. It was the first book I read that danced in vivid color in my mind. Before that book, I remember only faint black and white images. I believe Marquez’s writing unlocked the beauty hidden within the written word for me.

5. What tool do you use every day that is invaluable?

My most invaluable tool is my mind. I am so incredibly lucky to have been given the opportunity to pursue higher education and now, I am trying to put that to good use. It is a great privilege to have a career where my thoughts and creativity are valued, and my voice matters. Only a very few decades ago, women were not afforded such opportunities; and before that, it was only a very small upper class of men who had such an opportunity to pursue thought as a vocation.

6. What does the word 'power' mean to you?

Did I pay the electricity bill this month? Assuming I did, I think of “power” as a word steeped in duality. Within one small word, is an ability within individuals and groups to influence and mold progress when used in a positive manner. However, there is a darker component to power that holds the potential for great harm, and a loss of empathy towards those without it. While an individual or group might yearn for “power”, attaining it without the recognition of its deleterious potential, may be one of the most negative of human abilities. I find “power” a word to be used sparingly and only in specific circumstances, where it’s meaning can be fully comprehended by both the speaker and the listener. 

7. If you woke up and had 1,000 emails in your inbox and could only answer 100, how would you choose which ones to answer?

That sounds about like my morning! My approach is to cover the most ground possible first thing in the morning, so I am set up for the day. As a scientist and mathematician, I use a soft algorithm that includes first, checking for emails from my family – those get priority always. If my mother sent 100 emails, I wouldn’t answer anyone else. Next, I exclude all “update” emails and sort the rest by sender and topic. I answer one email per unique topic. If there were to be >100 topics, I would sort by relevance to immediate tasks I already know about, and then work towards the more obscure until I hit 100. There is nothing better than a nice clean inbox in the morning. It keeps me on top of the rest of the day.   

8. If we could arrange a dinner for you with one person in your industry, who would you want to invite?

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

I will remain contemporary, but take a bit of liberty in defining my industry to include former scientists so that I might have dinner with Angela Merkel, who holds a doctorate in physical chemistry. She is both brilliant and politically savvy. She has also shown herself to be level-headed and clear in her purpose to serve her nation and Europe. I would be on the edge of my seat to hear her thoughts on anything from the political world stage, to how she managed her career progression.