Kristin Ainsworth is VP, corporate Affairs, PR and advocacy, Tesaro.
What would you do if you didn’t work in healthcare?
I have such a passion for helping people and animals, I would probably own acres of land to rescue every dog I could. Working in healthcare allows me to make a living and still feed that passion because I know I’m helping people.
Last time you experienced a fist-pumping victory moment?
Completing the Boston Marathon in 2017. There are so many parallels between building a career and training for a marathon. Both require commitment, long-term strategizing, and the understanding that, instead of jumping straight to the big accomplishment – finishing the race or getting a big promotion, for example – you must first achieve small accomplishments that you can then build on to get to the bigger payoff.
When was the last time you endured an “agony of defeat” moment? What did you learn from it?
We had just gone through a very successful product launch. It was well-received and supported an unmet need in treating cancer, but some patients began to experience side effects we hadn’t seen in earlier studies. Ultimately, we made the difficult but responsible decision to remove the drug from the market, even though so many patients were benefiting from it. What we learned is that while we are a business, we have to do what’s right for patients. If you set aside the financial goals to do what’s right, if that governs how you do business, you will always do the right thing.
How long ago was the last time you took the time to recharge your batteries? What did you do?
My family and I took a wonderful vacation to Sea Island, Georgia, in February. One thing we particularly enjoyed was renting bicycles with our kids. The bike ride was only an hour, but it was all we needed. Everything was blooming, and moss-covered oak trees were drooping over the streets. We were forced to downshift a bit in this beautiful, historically significant place. It was a great way to disconnect from the digital world.
What do you find frustrating about working in healthcare marketing?
Pharma’s reputation. We’re doing all kinds of good things for people living with chronic illnesses, and sometimes that gets overshadowed by a tweet about pricing or some other pain point. As an industry, we need to work harder to spotlight the good we’re doing, rather than simply taking a defensive stance. If we are going to have a conversation about pharma’s place in the world, we need a balanced discussion about the bad and the good.
To ensure pay parity and career advancement for women, I will…
Continue being an advocate and a voice within the industry and the organization to support these two important goals. We should select the person best suited for the role, regardless of gender. But with respect to leveling the playing field, we must continue to promote women and give them visibility by acknowledging the work they do. I think our industry is recognizing there has been an issue, and we’re making progress.
What are your words to live by?
Enjoy the journey. My husband and I say it all the time. We all get so wrapped up with the “treadmill of life,” the challenges, the family commitments. Take time to reflect on life’s gifts, don’t take things too seriously, and be in the present moment. It makes things so much more manageable and so much cooler.
What is one thing you would tell young women starting their careers in healthcare marketing?
Know thyself. Know what matters to you today, professionally and personally, so that you’re not simply enticed by a fancy title. Be open to opportunities, but never forget what drives you, what’s meaningful to you. Sure, you’ll make some decisions you regret, but try not to sacrifice your values. Also, find a mentor – someone who will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. Surround yourself with people who know you and who can protect you when they see you veering off your path.
Hands down favorite has to be pinot noir. It’s got some good substance, it’s not too flashy, it goes with everything, and can be consumed across the seasons.
What three people, alive or dead, would you like to host at a dinner party and why?
- Brett Favre, the former quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. I admire him so much. During high-pressure games, he always stayed extremely focused for his team.
- Gwen Stefani. She’s so authentic in expressing her personality. She’s a mom and an incredible musician, and also drives a minivan.
- Princess Diana. Under times of extreme stress, she was always graceful, composed, and poised, yet more real than royal. She was relatable and connected with people on a very human level.