Message from New HBA Pacific Region Region Chair

Hello, from your new chair of the HBA Pacific Region,

With the new year, comes calls for your “motto for the year” to set the tone for all you want to accomplish in the year to come. For this, my first dispatch as your new region chair, I wanted to share the Regional Council’s version of that, since it will color our work and be evident in our delivery of value to our members throughout the year. Our mantra is “nourish your appetite for excellence.”

As an organization formed to advance women in the business of healthcare, what this means to us is ensuring that our offerings, from the Mentor Program, to our local chapter networking and educational events, to our Corporate Partnering Program and more, provide opportunities to feed your appetite for excellence, grow and attain your goals that you set forth in 2020 and beyond.

Taking this mantra to heart, we kicked off 2020 by hosting a successful event during the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference with the generous support of our sponsors, Accenture, Amgen, Centerview Partners, Genentech, MyoKardia, W20, Pharmacyclics and SternIR. Our star speakers and panelists included Alexander Hardy, CEO, Genentech; Anita Bose, chief client growth officer, W2O; Benoit Berthoux, managing director, life sciences west region lead, Accenture; Corinne Le Goff, senior vice president, general manager US general medicine, Amgen; Cynthia Burks, senior vice president, human resources, Genentech; Elizabeth Otterman, managing director, Accenture Management Consulting - Life Sciences; Melissa Masterson, vice president market access, MyoKardia; and Sophie Jones, MD, principal, Centerview Partners. They shared their thoughts on the state of being female in the c-suite in our industry and took a critical and inspiring look at where we are headed and the work that still needs to be done to close the gap.

Hardy in his introductory remarks shared progress on the fight to reduce cancer deaths and Genentech’s role in that ambitious battle, along with his commitment to continue that progress, acknowledging that among the key factors to their success, was working with the HBA to address gender parity in their ranks. Hardy said in part, “For us, this all translates in practice to the recent appointment of former HBA San Francisco Bay Area chapter president Quita Highsmith as our chief diversity officer; recruiting, retaining and developing diverse talent; working across industry to address barriers in clinical trial participation and improve health equity; ensuring diversity in our supplier pool and investing in local initiatives to support science education. We sincerely appreciate our long-standing partnership with the HBA and thank you for your important work to further the advancement and impact of women in our industry and by extension transform the lives of patients in need."

From setting bold goals, like Accenture’s aim to attain equal representation at all levels by 2025, to addressing the most critical issues facing our industry and the patients we all serve, like pricing, reimbursement and access, speakers discussed how diversity and inclusion are critical success factors. Because we know that with the diversity of employees comes diversity of thought and with that, innovation and ultimately better patient outcomes. We are excited to share more on that and other noted trends that came from the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in our upcoming Insights and Trends events, so be sure to register.

These complex issues are not easy to solve, we know, but what will be imperative as we work toward solutions in our industry and at our respective organizations is that we work collaboratively with all stakeholders -- regulators, patients, caregivers, policymakers, innovators, investors – and keep challenging the status quo and prioritizing the advancement of women. 

We also were honored to have Laurie Cooke, the president and CEO of the HBA, at our reception, who revealed the Woman of the Year, Honorable Mentor and STAR 2020 Honorees. Genentech and Roche’s Dr. Sandra Horning, Pfizer’s Rod MacKenzie and ArmadaHealth’s Susan Torroella, respectively, earned the top honors from the HBA and shared thoughts on what real progress in healthcare and in gender parity looks like and the dedication and commitment it takes from individuals and organizations to support change.

As Cooke presented Susan Torroella, chief operating officer of ArmadaHealth, with the HBA’s Strategic Transformation Achievement Recognition (STAR) volunteer honor, Torroella shared that her passion for the mission is what drives her participation in and support of the HBA. She reminded us that the ultimate vision of the HBA is to have an effect on all of healthcare, and implored our audience to continue to be bold, contribute and belong to the HBA.

Finally, Cooke revealed that the Woman of the Year for 2020 is Dr. Sandra Horning. Honored for her decades of dedication to the field of medicine and the advancement of women in our industry and at Roche and Genentech, Horning remarked that, “we are at a special, unprecedented time...as an oncologist, a survivor, a caretaker, an innovator, it has been a great privilege to be part of that change at Genentech.” The future is now; it’s time to bring cures to patients, to address major concerns around access, to tap the talent pool and strive for cognitive diversity, across gender and ethnicity. She concluded imploring our audience to “be the change patients are waiting for -- they’re counting on you.”

We were so honored to have had Dr. Horning and Mr. Hardy from Genentech, Susan Torroella, Laurie Cooke and other leaders from the HBA, as well as our valued members, partners and sponsors at our event to start off our year of “nourishing our appetite for excellence”. I encourage you to continue being part of the change and progress we were celebrating in San Francisco – resolve to get more involved in the HBA to help fuel your success this year, whether that’s by signing up for our Mentor Program, attending an upcoming event, or encouraging your employer to become a Corporate Partner

Cheers to a successful start to 2020,

Christine Armstrong