Successful leaders often have a “superpower” that gives them an edge to create impact and deliver on the mission of their organization. They could be laser-focused on problem solving, an excellent listener or demonstrate flexibility in response to unexpected challenges. Whatever the case, all of these superpowers lead to one ultimate goal — inspiring teams to take flight and perform at their potential.
Each year, the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) meets to honor exemplary leaders who are having a notable impact across the life sciences. In addition to naming a Woman of the Year, the nonprofit recognizes a wide array of female healthcare leaders with two other honors: The HBA Luminary Award and the HBA Rising Star Award.
This year, 78 senior-level women were identified as Luminaries for serving as role models and mentors in their respective companies and helping to advance the careers of other women.
For this first installment of a two-part series, we asked some of these influential leaders to reveal how they supercharge their teams to create opportunities, overcome challenges and achieve success.
“My ability to attract great and diverse talent and, inspire and empower them to leverage their strengths thereby achieving their full potential is my superpower. This empathetic leadership style leads to collective success — the team, organization and customers.”
Rashmi Gupta, senior director, sales, global pharmaceutical, and life sciences, Microsoft
Making the leap
“Risk-taking is my superpower. I put people first in every decision I make, which sometimes makes it challenging for me to want to take risks. However, I also think about what happens if I don’t take risks — I try to focus less on personal outcomes and more on the potential outcomes for others.”
Ayana Champagne, corporate vice president, human resources, Novo Nordisk
Leading the way
“My three leadership superpowers are courageous innovator, relentless corroborator and radiant light. Courageous innovator: fearlessly creates what has not been done. Relentless corroborator: genuine, unwavering team advocate. Radiant light: delivers clear compelling vision with the team.”
Sandra Sykes, global director, medical safety, Cardinal Health
“I truly believe we all have superpowers we bring to our work and lives every day. My leadership superpower is asking, why not? At times we, individually or within organizations, can put barriers on the art of the possible. Removing barriers and striving to be limitless is something I try to bring to my teams and clients every day.”
Alisa Wilson, managing director, West Life Sciences Lead, Accenture
Investing in the potential of others
“My personal purpose is to help people find and be their best selves so that they can make the seemingly impossible possible, so I’d say my superpower is believing in people’s potential. It’s very rewarding and humbling to me when I hear from team members who have worked with me comment that I saw in them a potential they had not yet realized. When I showed them that I believed in their talent and abilities, they began to believe in them too. That sponsorship and mentorship gave them the space and support they needed to excel in their careers.”
Raquel Mura, head, R&D global operations North America, Sanofi
“Awareness of my deficits and the ability to identify talent with complementary skills that support successful outcomes. My advice to leaders: don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Identify gaps and build competencies you don’t possess.”
Keli Walbert, executive vice president, U.S. operations, Horizon Therapeutics
“My leadership superpower is listening. This is a power that is not always easy to summon, but it is worth the effort to actively listen to ensure communication is the most effective and that each team member and stakeholder is engaged.”
Suzanne Giordano, vice president, field medical, Sunovion Pharmaceuticals
“Understanding the importance of sponsorship and mentorship, and taking the time to not only grow people as employees, but as individuals. Science, technology and people are moving faster than ever before. Ultimately, it's the people and their talent that builds momentum in a way that drives true progression.”
Anu Hans, vice president, strategic initiatives and PMO, Janssen Supply Chain, Johnson & Johnson
Making meaningful connections
“My leadership superpower is making connections across our business. In healthcare we are in a people business. Relationships, empathy and trust matter. Helping build the connections to improve healthcare is my superpower.”
Wendy Erler, vice president, head, patient experience and insights, AstraZeneca
“Gratitude is my superpower. There are always people who have more than you in life, and people who have less. If you ‘upward’ compare (to those who have more than you) you can be left feeling envious and wanting more. As a leader, I remind myself and others about those who are less fortunate. This ‘downward’ comparison makes me feel grateful for what I have, which is more than enough.”
Iris Melendez, vice president, talent and diversity, Organon
Collaborating to the hilt
“I have been told I am a ‘super-collaborator.’ I have always been really curious. I try to understand the diverse cross-functional viewpoints, barriers and opportunities out there to find the common ground needed to progress the really big things that elude us. There is no greater motivation than trying to bring breakthrough medicines to people around the world.”
Jennifer Finnegan McCafferty, senior vice president, CMC, regulatory and quality, Merck & Co.
“My superpower is my ability to create, connect and empower a team, that collectively power the possibilities. I believe the power of a team is more impactful than a single individual as everyone thinks differently thereby driving creativity.”
Jennifer Sozio, senior vice president, clinical operations, Syneos Health