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

I’d be involved in educating disadvantaged students. I was born to hardworking immigrant parents who encouraged me to take every chance to get ahead. With their support, I took advantage of the mentoring and educational opportunities that were offered to children in our small, Hispanic, Spanish-speaking city in New Jersey. I reflect fondly on the organizations that exposed me to higher education and career advancement, including Inroads, Rutgers Upward Bound, a women’s science program at the College of St. Elizabeth, HOBY Youth Leadership and more. That said, when I was young I thought I would become an NBA announcer for my beloved NY Knicks!  

Can you give a shout-out to someone who helped you at a pivotal time in your career?

I met Col. Ray Garcia when I was a young engineer and involved with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. He inspired me — despite his humble beginnings in Texas, he got his big break as a pilot in the Air Force when the college requirements were dropped during World War II. He went on to be an accomplished pilot, engineer and professional and later dedicated his life to mentoring minority youth. He taught me the importance of taking leaps and encouraged me to get uncomfortable. It was his mentorship that gave me the courage to make a major change in my career.

Work to live, or live to work?

I want to say work to live, but my husband quickly corrects me every time! Live to work, I suppose. The way I see it, I’ve been given opportunities in life and I want to make an impact on many lives and that includes the patients and healthcare professionals I serve at my corporate job, my children whom I have the privilege of guiding in this life, and the many kids or young adults out there who just need some doors opened for them to get ahead in life. There is always work to be done ….

Share a moment when you left your comfort zone; what did you learn?

Early in my marketing career I had the chance to walk in the shoes of a sales professional. I moved cross-country to cover an open territory. My first day, the catheterization lab manager at my largest prospective account told me he did not want a woman there. From then on, I left my house at 4:00 a.m. three days a week to ensure I was there for the first procedure of the day; eventually I was able to convert the account. The experience taught me about perseverance, managing rejection and the importance of adapting when faced with opposition, and it ultimately made me a better marketer. 

What do you find frustrating about working in healthcare marketing?

The misconception that the only role a marketer plays in an organization is persuading healthcare professionals to buy its next widget at a higher price. I subscribe to a more modern marketing approach wherein a marketer’s role is much broader, representing the voice of the customer throughout the process of developing innovation. Marketers today should be studying the work/life environment and work flows of our customers to understand the value we could bring through innovative products or services. It is a true partnership with our customers. Additionally, great marketing happens when society also benefits, thereby tying the role of marketing to ethics.  

To ensure pay parity and career advancement for women, I will …

Use my voice. I recall a talent discussion I was involved in with senior leaders. An experienced female R&D leader was being discussed for a VP role, which would have been a promotion for her. There were many positive comments made about her and yet the group wasn’t seriously considering her for the role because she was not “polished enough” and “didn’t fit the mold.” After listening for some time, I asked one simple question:  “What does a VP, R&D leader profile look like?” With that question alone the conversation changed 180 degrees. 

Where would you like to see more progress in the #MeToo movement?

Given this is about sexual harassment in the workplace, I’m not sure I have much thought about this given the private/public nature of such a topic. 

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

Early in my career, I heard the concept of PIE and after many years, it still resonates with me.  

P = Perform. Focus on the job and excel. Stay connected to industry news and company performance.

I = Image. The quality of your work leads to your personal brand. 

E = Exposure. Once you are “known,” you will get tapped for new experiences; or you have earned the opportunity to ask for new or expanded experiences and responsibilities.

I also recommend that you find a mentor(s) outside your reporting line who can help you with specific things you are working on.  Also ensure you have other interests — corporate networking does not mean always talking about work!

Favorite song?

My favorite song has to be “Vivir Mi Vida” (Live My Life) by Marc Anthony. When I hear this song playing, I can’t help but smile. It instantly takes me back home to friends and family and neighbors, rhythms from the Spanish-speaking city life of my childhood. It reminds me to laugh. Dance. Live Life to the fullest!

Which three people, alive or dead, would you like to host at a dinner party and why?  

  • Michelle Obama: She is a strong, inspirational female leader who I admire for her ability to know when to use her quiet, inside voice and her loud, outside voice.
  • Cokie Roberts: As an American journalist, Cokie introduced me and encouraged me to get engaged in understanding our country, our constitution, our politics and our opportunities.  Her book Ladies of Liberty made a lasting impression on me.
  • Jennifer Lopez: As a fellow Latina, I am encouraged by her Superwoman status, the I-can-do-it-all attitude pushes me more. And as a marketer, I appreciate J-Lo’s brand.