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For Being a Health Technology Convener
Title: National Managing Director, Health and Life Sciences
Education: BS, University of Phoenix
Family: Husband, Anthony; two children, Haley, 16, and Patrick, 12
Hobbies: Kids sports, Broadway shows, blogging, and traveling
Awards/Honors: Main Line Times Top 20 Power Women, 2014; PharmaVOICE 100, 2013 and 2014; Microsoft’s Industry Partner Account Manager of the Year, 2011; Microsoft Red, White and Blue Award; Microsoft’s Silver Star Award
Personal Brand: Dreams big
Andrea McGonigle leads a team at Microsoft that is responsible for looking at health holistically and driving initiatives among the diverse companies that intersect the health world — health plans, providers, health and human services, and life sciences. Her focus, however, is always on the patient and the services and devices patients need. Andrea works to connect what Microsoft is doing to industry developments, ensuring cross collaboration to achieve objectives such as driving down the cost of health while improving the quality of care.
As a thought leader in patient engagement and cloud compliance, Andrea helps provide the solutions and cloud platforms that support these areas in the commercial practices of pharmaceutical companies as well as across the healthcare ecosystem.
A transformative convener, Andrea takes an agnostic approach to problem solving. She and her team look at the issues that the industry faces, and then they create a roadmap and seek out the innovators and market disruptors to come up with concrete solutions. She understands that old problems need new solutions. For example, the challenges involved in patient recruitment need a change of mindset to solve them. She believes to do this, we need to exercise a growth mindset.
Andrea is passionate about supporting women in healthcare and pharmaceutical careers through her work in various groups, including Microsoft Women in Health Employee Group and executive advisory council for Women in Healthcare and Life Sciences (WIHLS), which provides mentors for women at all levels of the industry. In addition, Andrea serves as a committee member for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter for the Red & White Annual Ball. Andrea just completed a three-year commitment to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as an executive board member, where in addition to raising funds to find a cure, she was instrumental in bringing on additional female executive to the board.
PV: How would you describe your leadership style?
MCGONIGLE: I treat others the way I want to be treated. And when I’m building out teams, I look for people who have the strengths needed to make us better and complement each other. When you bring a group together, it becomes the power of one plus many. Not only do those people bring their strengths, but they also learn from others with different strengths and are stronger together than they are as individuals.
In addition, my mantra is always do the right thing by the customer, and think about what the customer needs first. For example, when we were working with Johns Hopkins, we sat down with them and learned that they wanted to move beyond the processes they had been using for years. They wanted to go beyond the four walls of their hospital and explore their proof of concept in precision medicine. One specific area they wanted to explore was prostate cancer.
We were able to tap a cohort of hospitalized patients to get their medical information. By examining the data, using algorithms, and Azure ML, which is machine learning, we were able to predict up to 96% if someone would have a second reoccurrence. In this example, we spent a lot of time listening, asking questions, and learning from the customer before we ever discussed the technology.
PV: From your perspective, how are collaborations starting to change what the life-sciences ecosystem looks like?
MCGONIGLE: It’s bringing players together we wouldn’t have thought of before, from Walgreen’s, to CVS, to Comcast. I have a unique opportunity to connect these types of companies with the traditional life-science companies, pharma companies, CROs, medical device companies, health plans, and providers. I recently received a call from a large cable provider, for example, looking for guidance for its health division and virtual health group. This is a new phenomenon.
When I joined Microsoft from Merck, I made a conscious decision to learn more about providers and plans because it occurred to me that the problems they are facing are the same ones the pharma industry is facing, but if you’re working in a silo you don’t see the whole playing field. In pharma, one of the problems is finding the right people for clinical trials, for example. That’s not any different from the Johns Hopkins example of identifying prostate patients who have might a recurrence. I can see how the puzzle pieces are coming together very clearly and how collaboration can influence clinical trials in the future, how collaboration can influence the patients, and how collaboration can provide better and a higher quality of care, lower costs, and provide better service. The most innovative collaborations show the value of what can be done together.
Another advancement in terms of collaboration is the huge numbers of people, including patients, who are sharing their DNA data to advance genomics research.
PV: Are we looking at a truly holistic environment in which technology is tied to everything?
MCGONIGLE: Technology surrounds every part of life today and health is a big component of that; technology is integrated through our life and our lifecycle. When I was sitting inside pharma, I didn’t see the challenges the same way. In my role now, I get to talk to the top providers, the top health plans, CROs, etc. Now I see problems at a much higher level and see the potential to bring together groups that are innovators. I believe technology is the glue that can bring everything together. Technology is the accelerator to take healthcare to the next level. I think the market will be disrupted and radically changed through a collaboration involving two or three major health players. They will develop completely new processes. It will take a while to get there, but it’s that type of disruption that we need. For years, every single event I have gone to people have been talking about the changes that are needed. But, who is going to be the one to affect change? I think the space of personalized medicine is the next frontier. It’s going to explode, and the consumer piece is going to drive that. This next generation is going to demand consumerism of their healthcare at a whole other level.
PV: How would you describe personalized medicine in today’s marketplace?
MCGONIGLE: Most people say personalized medicine equals genomics. That’s not it. That’s just a tiny piece of it. Personalized medicine uses all the structured and unstructured data that surrounds an individual to suggest better outcomes and in turn give them better care.
Personalized medicine can be a huge accelerator for transforming healthcare. Think about it, when you bring your car into the shop the mechanic literally hooks it up to the computer to check all the systems and provides an output of what’s needed to keep the car running or how long until the brakes, tires, etc., need to be replaced. This is the same type of approach what we need for patients. You would not change the brakes unless you were sure you needed them.
PV: I know you’re involved with Girls Who Code and other women’s organizations. Why is it important for you to continue to bring other women up?
MCGONIGLE: I often wish when I started out that I had the knowledge I have now. I reach out to women who are coming out of college, who are thinking about getting into careers in the life sciences and technology and I share my knowledge so they come in wiser, stronger, and can get ahead even faster than I ever could.
Sometimes, specifically for women, when you’re in a senior role you wonder how to balance work and life.
I write a blog called The Working Queen Bee, which is about the things that I’ve dealt with throughout my career, being a woman, an executive, a mom, and how I balance all of those roles. I wrote one blog after returning to work after having a baby and I can’t tell you how many people contacted me afterwards to say, “Thank you so much, that’s exactly what I needed to hear.”
I was on a women’s panel call at Microsoft last year. I later joined a teleconference where there were probably 40 or 50 people on the call and someone said, “Oh I met you before. You were the one who told everybody to go home early.” I started laughing and thought that’s not necessarily what I want to be known for at Microsoft. But my comment was about setting guardrails and making it known that I go home to do what I need to do with my kids. For me, this might mean working 7 am to 4 pm and getting back to it around 8 pm or 9 pm, depending on what I have to do. I read Cheryl Sandberg’s book and learned she was doing the same thing. At 5:00 pm she would have her admin go check the hallways to see if anyone was looking as she left to have dinner with her kids. I thought, how could an executive like Cheryl Sandberg feel the same way I do? There is a cultural aspect in business that there is something wrong with trying to have a life-work balance. I always tell my people do what you need to do because the time you get to spend with your kids passes fast, you don’t want to miss those opportunities. Your job is going to be there, but it’s important to set guardrails with your company, tell them this is when you’ll work, these are my hours, and during this time I won’t be available. Guess what? Most of the time it works out great. In my case, no one ever said a word about it.
PV: What issue or issues are important to you in the workplace?
MCGONIGLE: I’m currently formulating ideas around how I can be a driver around the equal pay conversation. Traditionally, females do not negotiate their salary when they accept a job.
Think about how this changes the course of how much money they’re missing out on every single day for the next 30, 40, 50 years. I haven’t put it all together yet, but we need to get to a point where information about roles and pay are publicly available. We’re still pushing it back on women saying “You go back and negotiate.” Why aren’t we holding companies accountable?
PV: What advice would you provide to future leaders?
MCGONIGLE: Be your authentic self. I had a very different background than most people in that I worked while I was in college and my parents were immigrants. I never lived at school, I worked two jobs, and went to school each morning commuting into the city. When I first started my career, I tried to fit in but being more like the people around me. Now, I realize when we’re having discussions that I bring so much more to the table around patient issues because of my background and being my authentic self. I think about who the consumers are and all of the different walks of life they come from. Before, I would have been embarrassed about speaking up. Now, I’m comfortable with who I am. My advice is to start your career that way.
PV: What mark or legacy would you like to leave on the industry?
MCGONIGLE: I want to be known as a change agent for digital transformation. Also, I want to look back at the partnerships that my team and I put together and say that was the moment when we as Microsoft disrupted the industry in some way, shape, or form for the better.(PV)