The best way to get anything out of an organization such as the HBA is to invest something of yourself in it.
Sue Steven, Southern California President Elect
Two years ago, I posted a part-time development opportunity on Genentech’s website for five women in the company’s Process Research and Development department to join the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association under my financial sponsorship and tutelage. The objective was simple: the best way to get anything out of an organization such as the HBA is to invest something of yourself in it. The logistics were also simple – I would pay for these five women to attend the 2008 HBA Leadership Conference in Chicago (See One) and again in San Francisco in 2009 in various volunteer roles (Do One) in the hopes that in the future they would be invited and ready to “Lead One.” I think you will see that this model may be worth repeating in your own organizations.
To get us started (since we are all scientists or engineers and mostly introverted), we met periodically as a group, sharing insights from local meetings, exchanging papers on women’s leadership, and supporting each other as we began our various volunteer activities. We arrived at the Chicago Leadership Conference the evening Obama was giving his acceptance speech in Grant Park – change was clearly in the air! We ended our journey at the San Francisco Leadership Conference, listening to NPR host Moira Gunn moderate a panel of women scientist/engineers who had been successful in their biotech careers – a program I was heavily involved in developing.
The total investment from my budget was about $15,000. The investment in time was efficient since I met with the five women as a group on a bi-monthly basis as they began finding opportunities to volunteer, and I coached them on their progress. Their volunteering included:
- Fundraising/sponsorship for the 2008 Leadership Conference
- Hosting SoCal HBA events in 2008 and 2009
- Program committee member for NoCal HBA chapter in 2009
- IT Technical point of contact for the West Coast video feed of the 2009 Woman of the Year program
- Co-chair of social committee for the 2009 Leadership conference
- Planner/leader of the Power Walks for the 2009 Leadership Conference
- Co-hosts for the Women in Science reception for the 2009 Leadership Conference
- Committee members for the E-level science plenary session at the 2009 Leadership Conference
- Manning the Genentech booth at the vendor/exhibitor venue at the 2009 Leadership Conference
Below, in their own words, are highlights of what these women learned from the opportunity:
- Judy Chou: One valuable experience I gained is to work with a team that I have no direct influence through reporting structure, and yet I relied on them so much to meet my deliverables. It was a very positive experience. The mentoring opportunities within this program have been helpful for me. The opportunity to mentor someone outside of my direct report is a new experience.
- Jessica Diao: Our task was to raise funding for the conference. This is not an easy task. However, by leveraging HBA’s extensive network and its reputation of putting on a quality event, the committee raised significant amount of funding in a relatively short period of time. This was a great opportunity for me to learn how to market good events and pitch ideas without being offensive.
- Adelle Lohse: The capstone of my entire development opportunity experience was most definitely the Leadership Conference. Both years I attended, the conference provided me with a wealth of information on how to navigate organizations, network strategically, apply lessons learned from others’ career paths to my own, and achieve my long-term career goals. I will continue to stay involved with the HBA in the future.
- Debbie Lou: Through this development opportunity, I get the chance to observe how successful career women handle professional and personal matters with confidence and with ease. Working with these senior-level professional women in the healthcare industry has helped me so much in the following areas: decision-making, driving for results, conflict resolution, staying focused, communications, and a passion for life. One area I have developed greatly about myself is I have become a mentor to the new volunteers.
- Tara Yokomizo: Building a new network is easier when you know at least a few people and join together. The HBA is an empowering group of women (and men). All of the people I have worked with and met have been positive and extremely helpful, and it is nice to connect with people who have had similar experiences and can share their insights, as well as women who have not yet had those experiences and might benefit from those that I have. I have taken home a lot of valuable learning—both from direct seminars/classes as well as management principles and group/people dynamics that I have brought back to share with my team.
The five women in this program did not know each other before we started and did not report into my organization. Four were based in South San Francisco, and one of them was located at our satellite site in Oceanside, Calif. However, they have established bonds with each other that will go beyond this initial experience, and they all have benefited from their involvement with the HBA. I have learned as much from them as they have learned from all of you, our fellow HBA members. Two of the five have recently been promoted, and their HBA experience was cited as a contributing factor. Need I say more? HBA – required experience for healthy careers!