The 2009 Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association leadership conference is officially underway in sunny California. Last night, festivities got underway with a welcome reception for attendees followed by a “Taste of San Francisco,” which featured lively entertainment and regional cuisine.
I had the opportunity to catch up with a few seasoned participants who are widely known throughout the HBA for their commitment to the organization—Charlotte Sibley with Shire, Ilyssa Levins, president of the Center for Communication, and Shellie Caplan, founder of Caplan Associates. First timers like Ellen Chi, principal research scientist in San Diego for Johnson & Johnson, came out to get prospective on career development. “It’s not too common you find women in pharma, so it’s nice to hear how women in the industry [at the conference] started their careers,” she said.
Hot topics of conversation are in long supply, including plenty about two companies: Roche and Genentech. And it’s no surprise: At the peak of transition and in HQ territory, the merger is one change never quite experienced before in pharma, said Jennifer Cook, vice president portfolio management of Genentech, who opened today’s morning welcome address by sharing her thoughts. “The culture of leadership that emerges for this new company will be most important,” she said. “We’ll need every employee going through this time of transition to ask themselves ‘what can I do?’”
The keynote speaker, best selling author Libby Gill, might have provided the solution. Gill shared three strategies for creating a culture of bold leadership: Develop your own leadership DNA or determine how you lead; clarify, simplify, and execute your vision of success; and then pursue a radical sense of purpose.
But perhaps the highlight of Gill’s speech came when she shared an ancient proverb to a ballroom with more than 600 women in it: “If you’re leading and nobody is following, maybe you’re just taking a walk.”
Well, I doubt anybody’s “walking” here. Empowered women are everywhere and ready to change the status quo. Stay tuned to find out how Renee Tannenbaum, chief commercial officer, Elan Pharmaceuticals, is leading her company’s operations to new heights.