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

If my career path had not veered into doing what I do in healthcare, I would probably be in academia. Learning has always been important for me. I am a life-long learner and always open to expanding my skills or knowledge. I am also driven to help others learn and grow in their personal and professional capacity. Academia was an early goal for me, and I currently serve as an adjunct professor at Villanova University where I teach professional education courses. I know that, under different circumstances, it would have been a satisfying alternative.

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

Rod Cavin. At the time, he was a principal at Health Strategies Group and was my boss for most of my 13-year tenure there. There were two pivotal moments for me. Early on, there was an egregious error that was made in the analysis of some survey data for a very large client. Rod managed the client and never blamed or criticized me. His response to me was, “mistakes happen, fix it and don’t repeat it.” I learned how to manage a crisis with a client, how to manage others, and above all, professionalism and integrity. This has guided my career.  

What do you find frustrating about working in healthcare marketing?

One frustration is the perception and attitude of people outside the industry that what we do is all about the money and pushing drugs onto people who don’t need them or can’t afford them. Like all businesses, pharma and other healthcare companies make money. However, there is an underappreciation for the mission to bring effective treatments and quality healthcare to those who need it. Popular press often perpetuates that misperception. I believe the mission to provide quality care is what keeps us professionals committed to our work and our organizations. I wish more people recognized that.

What are you doing to send the career ladder back down?

The best thing we can do to help those on the career ladder is to help them learn and build confidence through both informal and systemic interactions. This means sharing knowledge, resources and time with junior associates. Be open and available, answering questions and providing guidance when appropriate. Be ready with feedback to let them know when they are doing well or need to course correct. Build relationships and identify opportunities for different experiences for them. These are the things I do through everyday interactions and through more formal means such as development or mentoring programs.

What’s something your colleagues don’t know about you?

Few know that I am the interim pastor of a small church. Just as the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, the pastor retired. With the pandemic, rules for quarantine and building closure made it impossible to transition leadership. Additionally, the pool of potential pastors has dried up, making finding replacement even more difficult. I have a master’s degree in theology and served as Deacon for several years, so the church turned to me to fill the pastoral role. While not a role I had foreseen, it has been a memorable experience.

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

One thing I would tell any young woman just starting their career is to be courageous. Advice that you often hear as a woman in a professional setting is “don’t be afraid.” Don’t be afraid to speak up or do something. The problem is that you will face uncertainty and difficult situations, in which you may feel afraid. We all feel afraid sometimes. Just don’t let that feeling stop you. Go ahead and take the next step and then the next step. Be courageous.

Favorite TV show/movie/song/book?

My favorite movie is The Princess Bride. What is there not to like about that movie? It has everything — romance, adventure, action, fantasy, magic and true love. Rodents of unusual size! I think there are four important life lessons in The Princess Bride: 1. Your path is unpredictable, unexpected and filled with difficult and unforeseeable events; 2. You will not always know or understand others’ situations; 3. Perseverance and care for others will lead to better outcomes; and finally 4. True magic comes from the people you encounter and the relationships you build.