Last year I attended the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) Woman of The Year (WOTY) Annual Luncheon in New York City. I was so impressed with the caliber of people involved with this organization as well as the size and scope of the WOTY event. As a result, I decided to invite Laurie Cooke, CEO of HBA, to become a member of our editorial advisory board. I am pleased to announce that she accepted stating, “In terms of what I see in the output of the magazine, it looks very high quality. It’s something that I would want to be involved with.” I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Cooke to gain a deeper understanding of the organization and some of the challenges it faces.
Balancing The Needs Of Various Stakeholders
One of the unique aspects of the HBA is that it serves both individual and corporate members. It also is dedicated to furthering the advancement and impact of women in healthcare worldwide.
Overall, though, the organization works to develop a model in which people feel engaged. To be optimally engaged one needs to be involved beyond just attending events. I would describe the culture around the organization as being “How can I help?” Members of HBA help each other in a variety of ways, such as mentoring and networking. Presently, HBA has a staff of 11 people to support more than 22,000 members. Thus, the association relies on a lot of volunteerism, which also facilitates the networking, mentoring, and hands-on skills development process — for a win-win situation.
What Are Some Of HBA’s Challenges?
One of the challenges facing the organization is global expansion. “Right now HBA has 15 chapters across the United States and Europe,” Cooke elaborates. “When you look at how people interact in a face-to-face environment at an event and build a network, HBA is reaching a very small proportion of women.” As a result, the association is investigating building more chapters and developing a technical infrastructure and online content to support the anywhere/anytime concept. In this way, members can have greater access to the association’s network, mentors and leadership content.
Cooke sees another more philosophical challenge to manage. “In talking with a number of women, they don’t realize their career is something they need to be responsible for and own,” she states. “HBA is striving to educate women on how to proactively, as opposed to passively, manage their careers,” Cooke explains. “You may need to help your company help you to effectively manage your career.”
A third challenge HBA faces is the stereotype of it being focused solely on women. For example, when I attended the HBA WOTY event, I was surprised at the number of men in attendance. HBA welcomes men to join and attend events. In this way, the organization can educate men on how to effectively mentor and be mentored by women. Having coached both boys and girls youth sports, I can tell you that the approach is very different between the two, and I believe the same applies to gender differences in the work place. Cooke lamented to me that she wishes she had learned about HBA earlier in her own career. I guess that makes two of us. If you would like to learn more about HBA go to http://www.hbanet.org