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Old Saigon Echo website
from 2008 - 2012
Director: Bai An Tran, Ph.D.


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2013 Women to Watch: Susie Truong Harborth

Susie Harborth started as vice president of operations at GnuBIO and is now CFO at the company, which is developing a desktop DNA sequencing system that costs less than $50,000 and provides results in less than four hours. She previously researched life science companies for investment firm Leerink Swann and worked in finance at Cequent. She has two children ages 4 years and 10 months.

On her early childhood: Born in Saigon, Veitnam (now Ho Chi Minh City), her parents escaped on a 50-foot fishing boat when HARBORTH Susie 304she was 2 with about 75 other people. They were all rescued by an oceanliner, then she spent the next nine months at a refugee camp in Thailand before her uncle, who lived in Los Angeles, sponsored her and her family to come to the U.S. Of the whole experience, she still remembers being chased by police dogs that patrolled the beach to keep people from escaping.

On coming to Boston: She settled in San Diego, Calif., and often came to visit an aunt who lived in Brookline and owns the Zenna Noodle Bar. “That’s where I fell in love with Boston,” she said. When she was recruited by Leerink Swann in 2003, it was a chance to combine her finance education with her longtime interest in biology. But she still wanted to be part of the startup culture, which she first experienced while taking a year off from college to work at a venture capital firm. “I really like startups. Banking was OK, but I really like innovation,” she said.

On how she landed at GnuBIO: Harborth worked at Cequent from 2006 until 2010, when it was acquired by Marina Biotech in 2010, leaving Harborth without a job. Meanwhile, she had known and communicated with John Boyce, CEO and founder of GnuBIO, for three years via LinkedIn before she ever met him face-to-face, despite the fact that the two worked in the same building most of that time. When they finally met, the two hit it off immediately, and within a few month Boyce convinced her to join the startup.

On where she sees herself in a few years: While she says she loves the team at GnuBIO, she says she loves the startup environment and would like to go back to it. “I build it from the ground up, and then give it to the grownups,” she said.

On balancing work and home life: “You adapt to be more efficient,” she said. “You always are feeling guilty if you don’t stay late with the engineers. But then you feel guilty if you’re not home with your kids.”

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