On Thursday, May 5, 2011, the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) celebrated its Woman of the Year Award (WOTY) via a luncheon in New York City. Being the first time I attended the event (and hopefully not my last), I was not sure what to expect. Would there be a lot of people? Would I be the only guy in the room? What would it be like? Yes, there were a lot of people. No, I wasn’t the only guy in the room, not by a long shot. And, I struggle with describing the event in just one word. To be sure, it was a big deal. But, it was also inspiring and humbling to see the positive impact of volunteerism, networking, recognition, and mentoring. You see, the WOTY event is more than just one woman and one award. HBA recognized over 100 rising stars, a star volunteer, and an honorable mentor, which just so happened to be Ian Clark, CEO of Genentech (NYSE: DNA). HBA recognizes the benefit of inclusion to successfully achieving diversity.
Diversity – What are you doing about it?
Clark was recognized as the 2011 honorable mentor. Clark pointed out that he has won awards, but none of those ever generated as many favorable comments as this one, calling it an “inspiring and humbling” experience. He went on to say how people talk about and agree with the concept of diversity. Yet, most people don’t do anything about it. Skeptics might think Ian is just providing lip service. Those would be the folks who weren’t in the room to hear him talk about his ulterior motives for his company’s diversity and mentoring initiatives -- his three daughters. Clark hopes they will be given the opportunity to grow and advance in their chosen careers. A key component to successful diversity is mentoring. Specifically, Clark cited research indicating the importance of senior mentors to young women advancing in their careers. He believes the HBA helps women network to senior mentors, such as this year’s WOTY winner.
Worry About Leaving a Mark, Not a Legacy
Ian Read, the CEO of the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, Pfizer (NYSE: PFZ), introduced the 2011 WOTY award winner, Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall. Pfizer’s chief medical officer, Dr. Lewis-Hall fought back tears, wishing her mother could have seen her win this award -- recounting to the audience how her mother died from a fatal stroke when Freda was just a freshman in medical school. She lifted everyone’s spirits quickly, thanking her husband, describing him as her “heart throb” since the age of 17, and her 93-year-old father, both in attendance, for the love, support and wisdom each provided over the years. Dr. Lewis-Hall regaled the audience with her father’s ability to keep her ego in check as she rose to prominent positions in her career. She described how she once asked him “What should my legacy be?” She recalled his incredulous reply, “Legacy? Don’t worry about leaving a legacy. Instead, try to make a mark. That will be your legacy.” Dr. Lewis-Hall used a variety of stories and humor to make her mark, often, with simple words of wisdom (i.e. “If things are out of reach, then move closer.”). She listed three things people should remember to do on their journey through life. In so doing, you too, will leave a mark. First, think about who you are bringing along behind you. Second, think about what you are leaving behind on your journey. Finally, share what you learn along the way. I talked to Dr. Lewis Hall, shortly after her acceptance speech. I told her how moved I was by her speech. She returned the compliment telling me how much she likes the magazine. Well, how about that, she left a mark, as did Deborah Coogan Seltzer, president of HBA, and all of other members I had the pleasure of getting to know and network with at this year’s WOTY. HBA left a mark with me.