The Value of HBA Membership and Volunteering

Networking: It's Not About Who You Know, It's About Who Knows You

With unemployment high, market instability and budget cuts, strategic relationships are more and more important to professional success. Professional organizations and associations are usually the foundation for seeking employment and/or new business opportunities. That said, have you made an investment in your association or professional society that will help you in time of need? 

My name is Kelly Currie, and as a new volunteer and member to the HBA, I wanted to hear from the veterans about the value of being an HBA member for those that have recently become members and seasoned alike. I was curious as to how the HBA impacted their careers, how they incorporated the HBA into their work/life schedule, the challenges they face and their legacy. Most importantly, I wanted to know what three things they could recommend to new members. What follows is an Interview with Mitra Corral, outgoing HBA Northern NJ president who shares what helped her earn two promotions to an executive leader. She also shares the importance and benefits of being an active member and the return of investment (ROI) the HBA has offered her. 

How did you get involved with the HBA? Northern NJ Chapter? How long have you been a member? President? 
In 2008, when I was at Novartis for two years, I joined the women’s network, which was focused on enhancing women’s leadership skills within the company. I learned of the HBA and realized I wanted to broaden my relationships and networking outside of the company and joined the association at that time. I began volunteering soon afterwards and became president of the Northern NJ chapter in 2017.   

How have you incorporated the HBA into your work/life schedule?
It’s sometimes difficult to participate because of work obligations, however, anything worthwhile over the long-run is. The experience and relationships I have developed and leveraged since joining the HBA are worth taking the time to attend events and workshops.  

What transferable skills have you developed as a result of joining the HBA?
I have developed leadership and strategic planning skills by volunteering, serving on the board and attending many HBA social and educational events. By working in diverse teams, I’ve been able to incorporate many of the skills such as, networking, mentoring, leading and advocating for women from my experiences at the HBA.

How has the HBA impacted you personally and or professionally? How have you utilized the HBA? What is the largest benefit of the membership?
By participating in the mentoring program and Circle of Advisors, which helped me develop my goals and objectives and receiving sound advice from other leaders in the industry, the HBA has helped me attain two promotions to an executive level of leadership in my professional career. I have also developed leadership skills and have been able to mentor, advocate for others, network both within and outside of my company and gain visibility and make connections at different HBA events. I recently ran for town council in the primary elections. Also, partly because of my experiences and connections with the HBA, I decided to follow my passion and recently accepted a position with a biotechnology company in San Francisco.  

As chapter president, what is your biggest challenge? Priority? Goal? Objective?
The biggest challenge last year was developing a comprehensive programming plan to appeal to all the members of the Northern NJ chapter. The HBA is going through some changes and rebranding, just as our companies often do. My priority is to be flexible and resilient, our goal is to do the best that we can and try out new things during this time of transition to see what members are really interested in. Our objectives are to have more local programs for our members that are innovative, interesting and support professional development – and which members ultimately want to attend. This is a true example of GRIT (gratitude, resilience, influence and tenacity) which is a big focus of the HBA.

What is your legacy? Your footprint?
I hope to have influenced my board and chapter members in a positive way, to make people feel that they are part of a great organization and that they can make an impact. By taking on the president role, it has prepared me to be part of the gender parity movement and ultimately help make a difference for women in healthcare. I hope that we will achieve these goals for future generations.

What three things should someone new to healthcare do to take advantage of what  theHBA offers? Are those different than what you would share with someone who has been in the industry for 10-15 years? 
Great opportunity for networking with other HBA members, be inspired by the stories of women leaders in the industry and help develop your personal and professional goals. For those in the industry 10-15 years, I would recommend paying it forward, mentor other women starting out in their careers, join a circle of advisors program to create your own “board of directors” and get great advice from your peers in the industry and participate on HBA panels and events where you can share your stories and experiences with other members. You must make the time and effort to be active in the HBA – go to events, networking sessions, meetings and take advantage of everything HBA offers. It’s your association and you should explore everything it can do for you.