VP, business communications and stakeholder engagement | Astellas Pharma

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

Without question, this would be when the Astellas Oncology C3 Prize initiative was selected by the president of Astellas Americas to represent the region as a finalist for a global award within Astellas. C3 [Changing Cancer Care] is a patient-focused program that seeks to identify non-medicine interventions that could change the experience of cancer patients. Initially a regional program, C3 generated nearly 120 submissions for technology innovations from 14 countries. I am proud the company took this important step forward on behalf of cancer patients and that it was recognized internally as among the best work in our global organization.

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

Unfortunately, I don’t take time to recharge often enough. When you’re on the road and managing a variety of responsibilities, it is easy to let your personal needs slip on the priority list.  Sometimes I have to remind myself to reset those priorities. I’m fortunate because my family keeps me grounded and is the pull that keeps me refreshed. Without saying a word they can remind me that I need to take time for myself and with them. My grandchildren have also helped me see life through a different lens; they remind me life is both fun and funny. 

What do you find frustrating about working in healthcare marketing? 

I’m frustrated by how complicated the story of our industry has become and that it can be increasingly challenging to communicate the value we bring in a compelling way. Biopharmaceutical advancements have extended life expectancy and changed the course of life-threatening diseases for people around the world – neither of which comes easily, quickly, or for free. People are quick to acknowledge the impact of technology on our lives by enhancing communication and driving global connectivity. However, the value of our industry and how it changes people’s lives is often under-recognized.

What are your words to live by?

There are three key words that I try to hold on to each day. Proactivity, patience, and perseverance – the three Ps. As my friends and colleagues will attest, some days I’m better at keeping them in the forefront than others.

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

There are an endless number of ways you can, and will, reinvent yourself over the course of your career. Most of them will never have occurred to you as you consider what you want to do and achieve. While there is value in planning your course, it is equally important to be flexible. Unexpected turns, even those that appear as challenges, often represent opportunities that will take you down paths that lead to things that are bigger, better, and more interesting than anything you could have envisioned.

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

See the possibilities in front of you and not the obstacles; every challenge is an opportunity in disguise. Find a good mentor, ask questions, learn as much as you can, and be open to new experiences and responsibilities. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes; they provide true growth opportunities. If you play it safe and never make a mistake, you won’t have progressed beyond where you are today.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say as you enter?

So you thought that was fun? Wait until you see what I’ve got in store for you now.

Attend the MM&M Hall of Femme summit in June in New York City to hear Long talk about leadership

Myriam Mendila


Myriam Mendila

Quita Highsmith


Quita Highsmith

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