What would you do if you didn’t work in healthcare?
I really enjoy teaching and the energy of youth, so a college professor.
Can you give a shout-out to someone who helped you at a pivotal time in your career?
There are so many people who have given me boosts along the way, but my most important partner — professionally and personally — is my husband. First, he is super-smart and gives great advice. He knows when to take my side, but he also knows when and how to tell me I am wrong. Finally, he is an incredible dad. I was very lucky that we never had gender roles and we just do what it takes to get things done. We both know that is a real gift.
I am also beyond grateful to my female tribe. Everyone needs a tribe: people who make you better, lift you up and have your back. For me, I found my tribe in a group of female co-workers at Lilly. This was a super special group of women at a special time in the company that truly lifted each other up. It was this group of women who encouraged me to take on new job opportunities and be authentic with myself and my team. Without their constant encouragement, I would not be the leader I am today, and I would certainly not have the confidence I have today. But, most importantly my journey would never have been as fun and rewarding without them.
Work to live, or live to work?
Live to work, but it is not as bad as it sounds! I was attracted to the pharmaceutical industry because I loved the intersection of healthcare and business. I loved the idea of being able to help people live longer, healthier lives. I am not sure at 21 that I knew exactly what that meant, but there was something about being in the medicine business that called to me.
However, 20 years into my career, I really came to know what that meant. I had the chance to lead a team that worked on a drug that significantly cut mortality for people with diabetes. By that point in my life, my father-in-law had passed away from heart disease as a complication of diabetes. He died before he could ever meet my son, his grandson. So as my colleagues and I sat in a room looking at the unblinded study data, I realized, this career was exactly what I had said it was all those years ago. The work I got to do every day would allow grandparents to meet their grandchildren. What a unique gift! I do not take what we do for granted and it gives me real joy.
Share a moment when you left your comfort zone; what did you learn?
I have a pretty wide comfort zone, but occasionally I do get out of it. Sometimes it has worked and sometimes, it has not. What I learned is, there is truth to two of my favorite sayings: “If it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger” and “It’s not about the falling down, it’s about how you get up.” However, it still hurts!
What do you find frustrating about working in healthcare marketing?
I don’t think people truly understand the depth of commitment of people in the healthcare industry. Not all, but so many of us work in healthcare because we have a calling. We know someone with a specific disease and we want to make a difference in that disease. So often, I think people perceive those of us in this industry as just being in a business — in it for the singular stakeholder, the shareholder. But for so many who do this work, I have found, it is so much more than the business piece.
I say that and still believe that we have a lot of work to do in the area of access for patients. Too many people still do not have the access they need to our medicines. And, without access, our medicines are just unfulfilled potential, hope in a bottle or in a device that helps no one. All parties in the healthcare system must continue not only to work on this, but to fix the issue.
To ensure pay parity and career advancement for women, I will …
Speak up and sponsor. I encourage all women to bring their full self to work and equally important, I do the same. We are a long way from gender parity, particularly for women of color. And, it is important to note that women make the majority of decisions on health care as family members and caregivers — but are far from the majority of leadership roles in the industry. My priority is to help women see the best in themselves and encourage them in their careers, but more importantly speak up and sponsor them so organizations see the same thing and act on it.
But, I also want to look beyond just gender equality in the workplace. I try to reach out to women outside of the business world to help all women believe fully in themselves and what they are capable of. Who knows where that little girl with the cure to Alzheimer’s is? The world needs to be more inclusive.
Where would you like to see more progress in the #MeToo movement?
I would love to see a movement that strengthened inclusion and diversity in the workplace and, in turn, the world by driving true action. I believe we need to look for difference and create equality and opportunity. And, I know we need to think deeper about intersectional feminism and why are we not being more successful. We must change this. In the workplace, ideas that come from diverse and equitable teams may be the ideas that close a sale that might not happen otherwise.
Across the globe, it means helping to create a world that not just allows but empowers that one little girl in Afghanistan to discover a cure for Alzheimer’s. There are a lot of big issues we are facing as a global community right now, even just in the field of health care. We need to have every single person participating in finding solutions. The bottom line is that we can no longer afford the luxury of deciding not to engage with whole segments of the world.
What is one thing you would tell young women starting their careers in healthcare marketing?
Be yourself and allow the team to bring their full selves to work. The one time I really failed big time in leading a team was when I tried to emulate my boss. We were entirely different people. His style was one that was very different than mine. I felt that to be successful, I had to be like him. I ended up losing confidence in myself and did not follow my gut and my head. The team sensed it and did not feel inclined to follow an inauthentic leader and it showed in my results.
The world needs more than one type of leader. The biggest takeaway for me was that being someone else took away from what mattered to me: my team and my customers. It takes way too much energy to be someone who you are not and you are probably not very good at it.
Anything from Hamilton. The talent of Lin-Manuel Miranda amazes me.
Which three people, alive or dead, would you like to host at a dinner party and why?
My two late grandmothers, because now that I am older and wiser there is so much more I would like to ask them that I did not while they were here with me. Also, I would love to have the late Governor Ann Richards as I think she could add some spice to the dinner!