Highlights from Central NJ’s Personal Innovation educational event

On Thursday, 21 September, over 100 HBA members and guests attended a panel discussion on “Personal Innovation: Crafting Your Own Narrative to Reinvent Your Career” hosted by the HBA Central New Jersey chapter.

Moderated by Neena Patil, vice president of legal affairs at Novo Nordisk, a distinguished panel of four panelists represented a diverse cross-section of experience and perspectives on the topic:

Marisa Co
vice president, business insights and analytics, research and development
Bristol-Myers Squibb Company

Jeremy P. Boss
director, patient support program
Novo Nordisk Inc.

Lorraine Marchand
managing partner, Centricity Health
adjunct professor, Columbia Business School

Erika Zannou-Mantri
executive director respiratory development unit
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp.

The discussion began with panelists defining what a personal narrative is and how theirs affected their career journey. Panelists explained that a narrative is a story, it tells who you are, what you stand for and what you should be remembered for. A narrative can define your life’s purpose and let people know where you came from and where you are going. Since it represents your journey, it is constantly evolving.

The panelists shared their stories and some of the challenges they encountered along the way to personal innovation. Four key takeaways emerged:

  • Embrace growth opportunities: Don’t be afraid to take new projects, make drastic career changes, or go to an entirely new field as these are great opportunities to help you grow personally and professionally. They will make you stronger and broaden your view. Sometimes you might fail or encounter setbacks; you should learn and reflect, stay positive, prop yourself up and move forward with enthusiasm.
  • Seek mentors: Look for mentors from diverse backgrounds that can help to broaden your view. Be authentic and empathetic. Find a mentor who is a good listener and can challenge you. As a mentee, be accountable, honest and purposeful. Do put the advice you get into practice. Over time mentors can develop into sponsors who use their status and clout to create opportunities and make connections for you.
  • Broaden your network: Find networking opportunities outside your company, your industry and your function. You will gain different perspectives and open up unexpected new opportunities. Diversity and differences add depth and breadth to your network.
  • Be resilient: We all make mistakes, so take them in stride and look at them as learning experiences. Focus on what you can control. Take a breath and tell yourself it is okay. Stay positive and remember that tomorrow is a new day.

The event was a great success. Attendees enjoyed a networking reception hosted by the event sponsor, Novo Nordisk. The perspectives of the panelists encouraged a lively, informational and entertaining discussion and attendees learned practical tips which they can apply to craft their personal narratives.

A special thanks to our panelists, event organizers, volunteers, as well as our event sponsor, Novo Nordisk.


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