Meet Erin Lavelle

Erin Lavelle
COO and CFO, Eliem Therapeutics 
board of directors, Neoleukin Therapeutics 
HBA chapter: Seattle
Current role with the HBA: HBA Seattle president

What made you want to take on leadership duties within the HBA?
The Seattle healthcare community very quickly became a source of new friends and colleagues when I moved here in early 2018. I wanted to have an opportunity to grow that network of amazing women and men. And, in particular, I knew we could do something special with mentoring and our programs to truly grow leaders. It was easy to contemplate taking a leadership role when I met the amazing volunteers in our chapter. As a team, we’ve been able to have fun and deliver on our vision to make a truly inclusive and welcoming organization dedicated to advancing gender parity.  

You have transformed the mentoring program in the Seattle area and the Pacific area. Tell us more about it? 
I was very fortunate to be a part of the amazing team of volunteer coaches and leaders we have in Seattle dedicated to our mentoring program. We grew the program from the first year of four participants to over 65 participants in these past two years. We have been able to recruit and match exceptional veteran Seattle leaders into our mentoring circles. Those women (and men) are a big draw for our mentees. In addition, our circles really run with a plan and a mentee-led curriculum (very much by the “HBA book” on program structure). This has driven success in past years. And a successful program in one year drives “word of mouth” participation in the next. We happen to have very dedicated mentors who come back year after year. I couldn’t be more grateful for their energy and enthusiasm.  

What personal experience attracted you to the HBA?
I was very lucky to “grow up” professionally in two large organizations that made a considerable investment in their people. Coaching, mentoring, individual development plans, stretch assignments and rotations were all within reach for staff. And, in my experience, women had the opportunity to take advantage of these investments in staff. Coming out of these organizations, I realized that many companies often don’t have the resources for such a thorough set of programs to grow staff.  And many women can disproportionately be left out of opportunities. The HBA’s philosophy is aligned with everything I believe in related to developing staff and women.

What advice would you give to women who aspire to leadership positions, both in an organization like the HBA and in a career path like yours? 
I often tell women to remember they are the “expert” for their role.  Women need to always remember when they are in the room for a decision: make your voice heard. If you won’t offer the perspective - who will? Every employee owns a piece of success for every company. Regardless of your level, treat your company like you have a part in that success and bring your ideas to the forefront. I also tell women to harness the energy they feel when leading their family and friends and bring that same authenticity and energy into the workplace. Women are such an integral part of families and society and in countless ways, they lead in our non-work lives. Why do we accept a situation where women’s voices aren’t heard in the workplace? And finally, find your confidence. The moment you “own it” and believe in yourself - others will too.  

Which leaders in healthcare, STEM and beyond do you look to as role models? 
There are too many to list, but I look to those who are selfless and put other’s success ahead of their own. I get a lot of joy and satisfaction from lifting others and growing careers. We all win when everyone grows and is fulfilled. So I look for role models and leaders who feel the same.