MMM Hall of Femme

Susan Sweeney

head of worldwide commercialization | Bristol-Myers Squibb


What would you do if you didn't work in healthcare?

I would work with my husband, building homes.

Talk about the last time you experienced a truly fist-pumping victory moment.

I was leading a team that launched a brand that was third to market. We had a goal to become the leading product in the category. The day we became number 1 you could hear the whole team cheer as they read the data coming in that morning.

When was the last time you endured an "agony of defeat" moment? What did you learn from it?

I was working on a product that was under review by the FDA and about ready to launch when we received a complete response letter. It was unexpected and took the wind out of the sails for the team. We learned that you can't control what happens to you, but you can control how you react. The team refocused and went on to successfully launch the product.

How long ago was the last time you truly took the time to recharge your batteries? What did you do?

It is very important to take your vacation time and disconnect from work. It recharges your batteries and makes you perform higher when you are back on the job. My last vacation was a ski vacation. It was spring skiing and there's nothing like skiing in 60 degree weather with great snow.

What do you find frustrating about working in healthcare marketing? 

I find it frustrating, but a great challenge to discover simple, yet comprehensive ways to communicate to our customers about the benefits and risks of our products.  

What are your words to live by?

A quote from Oscar Wilde: Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.

What would you tell your 20-year-old self?

Speak up and always sit at the table – you have something valuable to add.

What is one thing you would tell women starting their careers in healthcare marketing?

If you have the chance to take a leadership role in whatever job you are in, just take it. Don't wait for someone to ask you.

Favorite drink? French red wine.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say as you enter? Your whole family is right here.

Attend the MM&M Hall of Femme summit in June in New York City to hear Sweeney give the keynote


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