Why are you pursuing an MBA?
To open doors professionally – I’ve hit a point in my career where I am often the only person in the room without an advanced degree, and all those above me in my field (Finance) have an MBA. Last year, my company at the time had a few openings in my department and I realized that every candidate I interviewed had an MBA degree on their resume. In order to stay competitive (and relevant), having an MBA degree is a must.
I want to explore a new realm of profession, switching gears from a front-line healthcare provider to a backstage healthcare consultant, bridging healthcare with business. I am driven by the goal of finding new routes to help the people in need, especially the patients that have their lives on the line.
I want to enhance the Canadian healthcare system with business strategies that are driven by analytics, interconnecting different disciplines: data analytics, business and healthcare, into building a new system that promotes efficiency in patient care.
Eventually, I would like to open my own business of unknown nature at this point. I will make good use of this MBA to explore my potential and interests.
I am enthusiastic when working with cross-functional teams; seeing the challenges of finance, marketing, international strategy, customer analytics, and other technical departments expands my understanding of the industry, of the company, and of how to serve the customers.
I’m using the knowledge and network of the Tepper MBA to not only see and understand these challenges but to support them. It keeps my mind open and opens the flood gates for new ideas.
What drives or motivates you? What are your future ambitions?
Although I don’t have it all figured out, I can see myself as an CFO of a small biotech company one day. In my last two roles I have had the opportunity to work in pre-commercial stage firms and see the strategic roles that Finance plays in not only keeping the business alive but helping it grow. One day it would be great to lead a growing team and influence the long term investment and funding decisions of a company that is trying to do great things for the healthcare industry and patients.
Something that drives me every day is developing others. It excites me to see others grow, and to be part of their journey. It’s one of the reasons why I enjoy managing people. I want everyone to feel engaged and motivated to come to work every day. There’s so much we can do as leaders to build that kind of culture, especially for women, as they are often frustrated at work. This desire to support others in their development and build an engaging workplace culture is also one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about the topic of women in business. The world hasn’t progressed towards gender equality as much as many of us thought it would in the last few decades, and we, as emerging female leaders, can change that. I’m inspired by the many women-owned businesses that have started up in the past few years across all the different industries. I read somewhere the other day that Yelp is introducing a new feature that will show you whether the company you’re looking at is owned by women. These are all great steps in the right direction – now we need to pick up our pace to a jog, maybe even a sprint.
I love to leave something better than I found it. In operations we call this continuous improvement but in life we call this many things – a Good Samaritan, an innovative entrepreneur, a high achiever. Whatever you call it, I want to bring technologies, services, and products forward past the old challenges and into new ones.
For example, I work in aerospace and there are new technologies being developed to not only predict when aircraft engines will have failures and to replace and repair components prior to those events, but to go further and monitor live in flight what the condition and environment of aircraft engines are at taxiing, takeoff, cruise, and landing so that engines can be designed cheaper, with better fuel efficiency, lower environmental emissions, and lower noise for residential areas around airports.
I get excited when there an intersection between customer / society needs and company capabilities so you end up with a win-win, something better for everyone.
Can you describe a woman in your life that has significantly influenced you?
I’ve had quite a few female bosses throughout my career – four to be exact, and they have all been incredibly supportive and influential. Of them all, one specifically made it a focal point in our weekly 1-on-1’s to professionally coach me which I give a lot of credit to for where I am today. I remember once she gave me feedback about being quiet in meetings and how afterwards I come to her to have side conversations about ideas or questions that I could have (but didn’t) contribute in the meeting. She challenged me to ask one question or make one point during each meeting I am in so that I can build confidence in myself to be comfortable about speaking up in meetings. I followed her advice and ever since have not only contributed enormously to my projects/teams but also have been invited to participate in other meetings because of my contributions.
My mother encouraged me to pursue my dreams. I should not be bounded just because I am a woman. Her values shaped a big part of me today – choose a path that follows your own will, a path that goes beyond the traditional expectations set for women. Stay independent, both mentally and financially.
One example was a fantastic teacher – Ms. Flood. In High School, when I was mentally exploring potential career paths, she was in the mathematics department and she encouraged me by letting me be weird and nerdy. Today, I can proudly say that I’m a full fledged nerd. Years ago nerds were closeted people with glasses. Today we are enthusiastic, interested in learning, and just different enough to sprinkle diversity and openness into everyday life.
I started being a math nerd – I would volunteer to tutor students in her extra study hours. Then I started being nerdy about my passions – I would bring different desserts into school and survey my classmates to see what flavours and textures were popular and how I could adjust the butter consistency or the baking time to make something really sweet.
It’s good to be a nerd. It’s good to have a passion and encourage those with passions to not lose heart when the math is confusing or the frosting is burnt. Take the inspiration you receive and pay it forward to other women searching for their passions.
Is there a business woman that you’re inspired by?
Ivanka Trump is a female figure that I look up to as a symbol of success. She inspires me to master my time into effectively managing my family while staying active and strong in the work force to create value. To me, she is also the symbol of independence, with the capability to pursue one’s will and indulge in different areas of professions.
Beyond achieving your own goals, do you have any particular goals for how you will support other women in their own goals?
Absolutely – There are various women organizations in my industry (WIB – Women in Bio, HBA – Healthcare Businesswomen Association) that partner with companies to help professionally mentor and develop women. I think tone is set at the top and by having a strong relationship with these types of organizations it shows that management (and yourself) cares about diversity and equality in the workforce. I would encourage team members (as well as other departments) to be involved and motivate/support each other to join and participate in these types of organizations. Additionally, I think you can make a big impact on an individual level when you carve out time to mentor and coach not just your direct reports but other women throughout the organization.
I’m a strong support of Women in STEM initiatives. I work with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) in their local outreach and education programs. I enjoy partnering with science fairs and local chamber of commerce partners to help professionally mentor and develop young women.
As I reach various levels of the organization I hope to work on the culture to be more inclusive of women. For example, I would like to help take out elements of our language like referring to women as “the wife of *insert famous person* or for women to be called “girls” or “little” or “emotional” or other identifiers without basis and without equally identifying another other group.
I believe that if we can encourage young women to pursue the same opportunities as any one else and then have the culture that we don’t treat the women differently, then we can open doors that over time allow women to enter more technical and more high-level business roles which currently have lower participation rates.
If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?
Challenge yourself to contribute at least once per meeting. In many cases, I am often the only woman in a room and it can be not only intimidating but hard to have your voice heard without someone interrupting or speaking over you. It is important to find your voice and build confidence in yourself to share your thoughts. This only gets easier the more you practice so I encourage all of you to challenge yourself to be heard.
Dream big and put your dreams into actions through setting incremental, one-step-at-a-time goals. The milestones that you accomplish along the way are your stepping stones to success.
Everyone should read the book Breaking Through Bias by Andrea Kramer and Alton Harris. One of our Tepper leadership coaches, Laura Maxwell, recommended to it to me recently and I listened to the audio book over a road trip. It’s a powerful narrative that explains what the business world is like today for women and provides actionable steps that women can take to ensure they are setting themselves up for success. The authors make the point that though it is a book written for women, it is also a book that men should read, as there is much they can learn from it too. I loved the book because it gave very real examples and had tangible actions that you could immediately implement in your own world. It also reminded me of the importance of educating others about what the gender biases are. When everyone has a better understanding of what women are up against, we can start to shift the gender biases that are omnipresent in the business world today.
Another piece of advice – figure out who your “champions” are. There are people in your life who have seen you excel, and who will advocate for you when you’re not in the room. These are the folks who fight to get you on projects, or who know you are capable of doing something before you even know it yourself. Figure out who those people are and cultivate those relationships. This is especially important for women. I’ve seen the impact of recognizing who these people are in my own life, and it’s empowering to know you’ve got your champions fighting for your success along with you.