As a journalist new to the pharmaceutical industry, my first HBA event opened the door to knowledge, networking, and new opportunities for professional growth.
I recently attended my first Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) event—the 2010 HBA Leadership Conference, held October 27 – 29 in Philadelphia.
The Leadership Conference brought together women in all levels and all facets of the healthcare industry, from sales reps to CEOs, from Biotech to Big Pharma. I attended the conference for several reasons: to network and learn as a newbie to the pharma industry, to cover the seminars and speeches as a journalist, and to pick up some leadership and career development skills as a woman in the corporate world. I fulfilled all of these goals with the help of warm, welcoming volunteers and attendees who were eager to share their knowledge and their contacts with me.
The theme of this year’s conference was “Impact Delivered: Innovate, Orchestrate, Perform.” This theme was carried throughout the three days of workshops, seminars, networking events, and panels using the metaphor of an orchestra and a conductor to explain the relationship between a leader and his or her team members. The event that started the first full day of the conference was “The Music Paradigm,” presented by conductor Roger Nierenberg. This immersive, interactive experience had us, the attendees, sitting in the audience right alongside members of a symphony orchestra: the violinists and percussionists sitting alongside the physicians and CEOs and saleswomen of Big Pharma.
The conductor lead from the stage, and all of us got to see and here the fruits of the conductor and the orchestra working together all around us. In between beautiful moments of music, Nierenberg stopped to explain the trust, leadership, confidence, flexibility, creativity, selflessness, and honesty that comprises the relationship between the conductor and the orchestra, and between the individual musicians that make up this “team.” It was easy to infer how these skills and attitudes could be attributed to corporate teams, whether you’re talking about a major pharmaceutical manufacturing company, a small sales and marketing team, or the humble publication that aims to capture and convey the nuances of the industry (yours truly).
Every workshop, panel, and discussion after The Music Paradigm utilized this metaphor to teach the attendees something about being an effective leader/member of her corporate team or about using those skills to manage some aspect of her personal or professional life.
Three days surrounded by women who devote their lives and their careers to sharing their knowledge left me refreshed and hopeful—for my own professional endeavors, for the state of the industry, and for a future paved with understanding and collaboration. I remember calling my husband on the third day of the conference, trying to put into words why I was moved nearly to tears by the attitudes and aspirations of the women around me. We live in a world where, especially in today’s job market, most people are operating on a sheer “survival of the fittest” mentality when it comes to moving up in the corporate world, and where many jobs have become just another rat race to pay the bills. What an inspiration it was to wake up and share a breakfast table with a woman who has dedicated her life to curing cancer—and to spend three days with hundreds of women like this, who, together, can accomplish something so much bigger than any one of us ever could on our own.
Thanks to the HBA for being a practical, progressive venue to help all of us contribute to the greater good, and thanks to Pharm Exec’s Editor in Chief William Looney and Group Publisher Jay Berfas for introducing me to the inspirational side of the industry.