“Five Questions For …” Houston Technology Center’s Deborah Mansfield

Houston—Before Deborah Mansfield joined the Houston Technology Center, she was a bench scientist working in genetics and a grants manager at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Those positions, along with an MBA earned during weekend classes and a hands-on education of “the ABCs of business” at a Houston retailer, together give Mansfield the right mix of skills to nurture fledgling startups as the life sciences acceleration director at the Houston Technology Center.

In the years since she joined the HTC in 2004, Mansfield has watched the Houston ecosystem grow to include the Texas Medical Center’s Innovation Institute (which runs the TMCx accelerator), JLabs @ TMC, and Station Houston. In addition to coaching HTC member companies, Mansfield mentors startups at those other organizations. “There’s no other job like it in Houston,” she says.

In our latest “Five Questions For … ”, Mansfield speaks about how her singing abilities brought her to Rome, her love of political fiction, and why she’s made healthcare the focus of her work. Here is an edited transcript of our conversation:

Xconomy: If you could go back in time and get five minutes with any major historical figure, who would it be, and what would you want to say to them?

Deborah Mansfield: John F. Kennedy. I wish he would have been able to ask for us to do more for our country, that he would have had more time to live in that vision, for us to create more.

I don’t think it would’ve just been reaching the moon. It would have been relationships. We’d probably be involved with countries differently. … He would have had the longer lens, and he would’ve engaged with youth more. The Peace Corps was just part of his administration.

Now it seems we’re heading toward something that sounds like something that was happening before World War II: isolationism.

X: What’s your favorite book? Or maybe one you’ve read recently?

DM: I like the Daniel Silva stories, political fiction that takes you to far-off lands. These are my voyeuristic voyages into other countries and political intrigue. I love … Next Page »

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