Today we are talking to Darlene Solomon the CTO of Agilent Technologies.  And we discuss how Agilent is creating the tools to advance our understanding of biology, keeping your skills sharp by leveraging your A players, and having an external focus to integrate different views.

All of this, right here, right now, on the Modern CTO Podcast.


Darlene Solomon is senior vice president and chief technology officer for Agilent Technologies. Her responsibilities include Agilent Research Laboratories which focuses on high impact, longer range research in support of Agilent’s sustained business growth, and Agilent’s programs in university relations, external research and venture investment.

In her leadership role, she works closely with Agilent’s businesses to define the company’s technology strategy and R&D priorities. She joined Hewlett-Packard Laboratories in 1984 as a research scientist and soon moved into leadership as the Research & Development Manager of their Chemical and Biological Systems Department. When Agilent Technologies was spun off from H-P in 1999, she became responsible for Research and Development/Technology for Agilent’s Life Sciences and Chemical Analysis business.

She was promoted to Vice President and Director of Agilent Laboratories in 2003, and has been Agilent Technologies’ Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President since 2006. Solomon earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Stanford University and a doctorate in bioinorganic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and she completed Stanford University’s Executive Development Program. Amongst the recognition for her accomplishments Solomon was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and received the USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Daniel J Epstein Engineering Management Award. She was also inducted into the Women in Technology International’s Hall of Fame, received the YWCA Tribute to Women and Industry Award, and named to Corporate Board Member’s 50 Top Women in Technology. Solomon serves on the board of directors at Materion Corporation.

She also participates in multiple academic and government advisory and review boards, including current and recent appointments to the National Academies’ Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology, Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology of the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, Stanford Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Council, UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering Advisory Board, and Singapore National Research Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board.



Show Notes:

Works in Santa Clara California – Conference room named after named after someone in science in tech.  Sanger Conference Room

They have a Carl Sagan Conference Room

Agilent as a whole is about 14000k + people these days

Agilent is a global leader in life sciences.

Started at HP in 1984 after getting PhD at MIT

A big investment in R&D is in software and Data informatics

it’s about being able to bring together the metadata together

Lives as consumers is a very important trend

What does an average day look like for you, Every day is different, it is what she loves about her role. Internally focus and externally focused.  Setting and enabling Agilent’s Technology strategy. Meetings with CEO and tech staff.

Had the CTO of NASA on the show.  Has Agilent gotten to do anything Space Related at all?

Gave a keynote at Jet Propulsion Labs

Use Tech Transfer the same way as NASA

Invest more money in R&D than any of their competitors

Husband is on the faculty at Stanford – Daughter used to give her a cappuccino in the morning and her dad would give her 20 dollars for the day

How do you keep your skills sharp?  Read a lot – tech and non fiction. Look to teams (top level scientists) to leave her a paper to learn from.  Goes out with Field and Sales teams. Those visits open doors with university and industrial areas. Get to meet individuals who help keep the skills sharp.

External Focus is more and more important.  Going out you get a much broader view of what’s going on.  Integrate different views.

Joel was giving a talk in Orlando last night – Met a developer.  Story about developer trying to get in to the business. Relationships are the most undervalued thing in your mind

What advice would she give to the person.  One needs to appreciate what opportunities there are.

How does Agilent reach out to the next generation.  Offer Internships within R&D. Come in and have a meaningful position.

Got an award from WITI in 2003 – Inducted into the hall of fame.  

Association of women in science.

Princess Physicist talk – Beasley Foundation

Physics and electrical engineering are fields where women shy away from.  Steady wave of informatics. Cycles in Biology is happening faster and faster. Life sciences – Groups are looking to understand biology the way that we understand physics.  

Agilent is advancing the tools to advance the understanding of biology.

2 big horizons in biology – Precision medicine and health.  Engineering Biology – Cellular Manufacturing – Bio Inspired engineering – 100% clear it is not in the Agilent Road Map

Alternatives to human transplants. Understanding biological communication.

What’s your bio strategy  Book about technology and engineering biology

Cellular manufacturing –

Opens the door to creating products that never existed before

it will be really cool when we have our youth designing these bio structures

What are you most excited about today?  The impact of Biology. Area of precision medicine.  Idea that we’ll be able to tread disorders and diseases at a molecular level.

Joel Beasley

Joel Beasley founded the Modern CTO Podcast in 2017 while writing his book, the Modern CTO book, with the goal of interviewing CTOs and sharing their experiences with others in the tech community.

Joel’s conversational style and insightful questions quickly gained traction, attracting high-profile guests such as Microsoft’s CTO, Kevin Scott, and T-Mobile’s CIO, Cody Stanford. With each episode, the podcast’s popularity continued to grow, and soon, Joel found himself with a waiting list of future guests.

Today, the Modern CTO Podcast has become the number one leadership and tech podcast in the world, with over 150k active listeners, including CTOs, lead developers, and rising tech leaders. Joel’s commitment to creating a conversational atmosphere for his guests to share their experiences has inspired a new generation of leaders and innovators.

As the success of the podcast grew, Joel founded ProSeries Media, a podcast production company that helps companies worldwide create their own podcasts. With a team of producers, content creators, and podcast bookers, ProSeries Media produces over ten shows, providing a platform for companies to connect with their audience and share their expertise.

Through his work on the Modern CTO Podcast and ProSeries Media, Joel Beasley has become a respected voice in the tech industry, inspiring others to share their knowledge and insights with the wider community. His passion for creating engaging content that informs, inspires, and entertains has made him a sought-after speaker and advisor on all things tech.



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