Women are now leaving the workforce at four times the rate of men. What needs to be done to alleviate this?

First, we need to recognize that the thoughts and considerations of new leaders’ careers are different than in past generations. Once we can identify these differences, and understand what motivates today’s women, we can inspire and energize them to find their voice in the workplace.

Who was your mentor and what are you now doing to send the elevator back down?

Tony Hooper, former CCO of Amgen (and U.S. President of BMS), challenged me to think differently. He believed in me, giving me my first shot to own a P&L, which was uncommon among women at the time. My current boss, Frank Clyburn (human health president of Merck), gave me the chance to help build Merck Oncology — and our team has grown significantly. Frank’s trust has helped me achieve the legacy I want to leave which has always been about developing people. So now, it’s important for me to mentor others with straight talk. Give them courage to take down their guard rails. And offer my sponsorship to open new opportunities.  

What is your golden rule at work?

Always treat others like you want to be treated. Assume positive intent for other people’s actions. And accept their differences along the way.    

How have you coped with the unique challenges of the past 12 months?

I’ve made it a priority to connect by camera to keep teams engaged. I have a great team and need to listen as a leader. For example, we eliminated Friday afternoon meetings and we start our meetings 15 minutes after the hour to have extra breaks.  I give people space to address homeschooling and caring for family members. And we have fun — from virtual team workouts to our signature phrase “you are on mute!” we share laughs.

What are the first things you plan to do when the pandemic ends?

I am excited to travel with my husband, Greg, who is my encourager and champion, to the Southeast and New England to see our five amazing grandchildren. I can’t wait to give them lots of hugs and be part of their dancing and sports activities!