Meet Desiree Priestley | HBA

Meet Desiree Priestley

Desiree Priestley
Senior Director, Patient Experience and Operations, CNS at Otsuka America Pharmaceutical Inc.

HBA chapter: HBA Philadelphia, Mid-Atlantic Region
Current role with the HBA: President, Marketing and Communications, HBA Mid-Atlantic Region

In this new era of leadership, volunteering with the HBA is especially important because it

  • will expand your network – given that so many of us are virtual now, it provides you an instant community to connect with and bounce ideas off on a regular basis
  • will broaden your perspective outside of your role and organization
  • allows you to develop new skills, including leadership, and try-out areas of interest that can be applicable to your current or future roles within healthcare
  • will be fun and meaningful which leads to greater satisfaction in your daily life

Volunteering with the HBA has impacted my career by

  • expanding my network and introducing me to a band of impressive women within the industry - but outside of my organization - through volunteering and attending events. I’ve met some very close friends, mentors, and sponsors through my involvement with the HBA.
  • providing mentors and sponsors both within and outside of my organization
  • allowing me to learn about how other organizations operationalize their employee resource groups and leverage those learnings to help start the Network of Otsuka Women at Otsuka (which was honored by the HBA in 2021 with an ACE award)
  • providing greater visibility within my organization and industry
  • expanding my impact to elevate other women within my organization and HBA’s global volunteer community
  • bringing me a sense of pride that I am part of a mission that will pave the way for women in the industry in the years to come

My favorite HBA event I ever attended was my first Woman of the Year event in NYC in 2019. That was the first time our organization was a corporate partner and had a Luminary (Jen McGee) and Rising Star (Carole Augustine). I had so much fun seeing fellow volunteers, women in the industry I know and respect, and celebrating the leaders within our organization. My eyes were fully opened to all that the HBA is and aspires to do within healthcare.

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned from a fellow volunteer is the power of networking and lifting-up other women within your network to increase visibility within the industry. Thank you to Amy Turnquist, President, HBA Philadelphia.

My employer encourages me to volunteer for the HBA because I’m making a difference in the impact of women within healthcare, the HBA Mid-Atlantic region, and at Otsuka.

What skills have you acquired or fine-tuned during your time as an HBA volunteer that you feel will help you in this new era of leadership?

  • how to network
  • how to exert influence within an organization
  • leading without authority
  • project/program management
  • social media expertise
  • regionalization of marketing efforts
  • leadership and employee/volunteer engagement
  • mentoring and sponsorship

My favorite part of volunteering for the HBA is having the opportunity to encourage other women within the industry and working on a weekly basis with an awesome team: Kate Rubin (VP, Marketing and Communications, HBA Mid-Atlantic region), Annie Leib (Regional Director, Social Media and PR, HBA Mid-Atlantic region), and Christine Westbrook (Regional Director, Communications, HBA Mid-Atlantic region).

I applied for my current role with the HBA because after being in corporate relations for several years and learning about how various organizations set-up and implement their employee resource groups, I was able to take those learnings and help launch the Network of Otsuka Women at Otsuka. That was a huge goal so once it was accomplished, I wanted to expand my impact in the areas of marketing and communications because I thought I could help in a different way and learn some new skills at the same time – especially around social media engagement.

I first learned about the HBA when I was at the MM&M Inaugural Hall of Femme Awards to recognize my VP of Patient Support at the time, Shabnam Kazmi. All the women who were recognized spoke about the importance of having other women as mentors, sponsors, and peers to bounce ideas off of and receive candid feedback and advice throughout their careers. Several of them mentioned the important role that the HBA played in their careers which piqued my interest. The next day I reached out to a connection, Maria Finlay, who put me in touch with the Philadelphia area volunteers, and within a day I was volunteering as a Program Manager within the Corporate Relations team working with Lisa Morris and others.

What would be your advice to someone thinking about joining or getting more involved with the HBA? To jump in and do it. There are a variety of roles, ways to help, and teams to join that will work with your work life and daily life. It takes a village – and we appreciate all levels of expertise and time that people can feasibly commit to making an impact.

Follow me as I take over the HBA social media accounts on 18 April.


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