Our HBA blog 2014 in review

December 29, 2014

The WordPress.com prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Enjoy!

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,800 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Book review: Just Promoted! A 12-Month Road Map for Success in Your New Leadership Role

October 16, 2014

Book review by Sarah Meerschaert, project coordinator, Centrak

Just Promoted

Just Promoted

From those “Just Promoted” to those given new responsibilities they hope to lead into a promotion, “Just Promoted! A 12-Month Road Map for Success in Your New Leadership Role” offers guidance across the full breath of opportunities and hazards that await your first year. Edward Betof, Ed. and Nila Betof, PhD offer sage advice brought home with firsthand accounts and examples. Tools and exercises throughout the book offer a chance for reflection and drive home the strategies described in this book.

As a young professional, moving into this type of leadership role is the stuff of dreams. Wouldn’t it be nice to be offered a role which would move me across the country, even if it meant selling a house and moving a family (both of which are also distant dreams). It’s equally appealing to contemplate such workplace problems as transitioning former competitors into cooperative team members. For me, this book offers a guide to distant but obtainable success. Instead of focusing on today’s opportunities and challenges, this book called for me to focus on what my future would hold, and gives me a chance to model those traits and practice those skills today, getting me to that promotion and 12 months of success that much sooner.

Reading this book, I found myself observing the leaders in my organization and the mentors in my life. Did they say “I” or “we”? How do they motivate their teams? How did they inspire organizational renew? Do they practice good life integration? I found myself writing my own responses to various exercises, but also penciling in specific examples of how the leaders in my organization followed or strayed from the guidelines provided.

About the authors:
Edward Betof, EdD,
is an executive coach, an Aresty Institute Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Executive Education, and the author of Leaders as Teachers.

Nila Betof PhD, is the chief operating officer of and a senior executive coach at The Leader’s Edge, an international leadership development and executive coaching company. She will be leading the workshop, “The Art of Influencing and Change Management” at the 2014 HBA Annual Conference.

Book review: “Be the Best Bad Presenter Ever: Break the Rules, Make Mistakes, and Win Them Over”

October 6, 2014
Be the Best Bad Presenter Ever

Be the Best Bad Presenter Ever

“It’s authenticity and passion that win people over, not polish. But you can’t be authentic if you’re following someone else’s rules.” Karen Hough.

We’ve all heard that “the number one fear” of people is speaking in public. And we all know that careers depend on you sharing your ideas, making a pitch for business or sharing an update via speaking in public. Karen Hough, a very popular presenter at the HBA Annual Conference has tackled this subject with her trademark energy, fun and sound advice. She shares the secrets to successful presentations this easy to read book. She tackles myths that lead us astray.

Section one of the book covers preparing for your presentation. She lays to rest the horrid advice about practicing in front of a mirror and picturing the audience in their underwear. Section two covers the presentation itself from opening and closing to PowerPoint tips. The section of the book that will calm the most nervous person is her great advice on what to do if the horrid happens.

Each chapter ends with a link to her website where you can view videos on the subject you just read about. Go to the ImprovEdge website to learn more about this book.


Karen Hough is founder and CEO of ImprovEdge, where she has used improvisation as an engaging learning tool for business for more than 12 years. She will present the workshop: How Breaking the Rules Leads to Authentic Leadership at the 2014 HBA Annual Conference.

Where Does it Hurt? An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Fixing Health Care

August 15, 2014

By Jonathan Bush, cofounder and CEO of athenahealth, and Stephen Baker

Healthcare can seem to be like the weather; everyone talks about it but it can feel as if no one is doing anything about it. The American medical establishment is a $2.7 trillion industry. Bush offers ideas on what to do about it. He suggests that unshackling entrepreneurs and allowing them to make a profit.

In “Where Does It Hurt?Where does it hurt” Bush calls for disruption of the status quo through new business models, new payment models, and new technologies that give patients more control of their care and enhance the physician-patient experience. The book is divided into three sections: his journey through healthcare, disrupting the ecosystem and technology in healthcare.

In part one Bush reflects on his time working on an ambulance in New Orleans and working in a birthing center. He explains how it is “ridiculously hard to get paid” for most healthcare businesses. Bush says anger is a fundamental fuel for entrepreneurs. A wound or sense of injustice spurs creativity and gives entrepreneurs the push to put in the time needed to change the system. As the cousin of one president and nephew of another he offers a unique view of the role of government in healthcare. I think you will find the section on ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations) fascinating.

Part two of the book on disrupting the ecosystem describes the “titans” or current market leading companies and how they might need to adjust or even disappear. He then describes “The crazy ones,” those upstarts and innovative companies who operate with the customer in mind and add efficiency to the healthcare system while still making a profit. Chapters on primary care and a medical home round out this section.

The final section on technology covers software, disruption, stark choices and fast data. A wide variety of issues in our healthcare delivery system, from insurance packages to data mining, is covered.

Bush does not offer all of the answers. But he tackles the hard questions and gives the read a great deal to think about.

Book review by Carol Meerschaert, MBA RD, director of marketing and communications at the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association.

Mid Year – Message from the President

June 30, 2014
Jeanne Zucker

Jeanne Zucker

At the beginning of this year I articulated our 2014 plans focused on grounding ourselves in our mission and preparing the organization for exponential growth to help promote women in leadership roles within healthcare. This work is a continuation of our efforts in prior years which included strategies for:

  • Remaining relevant and portable—able to move with our constituents over time, geography and career path
  • Serving as a trusted partner and advisor to our constituents
  • Being seen as an authority on women’s leadership needs in the areas of skill building, networking, recognition, and mentoring

We have been working toward these objectives in order to advance our place as women leaders in our industry. This means joining the future-shaping conversations about women in leadership, advocating for women at every step along their career track, empowering women to flourish and have impact in whatever career path they choose and seeking to reduce the disparity of women as 73% of the labor force but only 4% of the leadership force.1

As we prepare to address these objectives in 2014, I am pleased to report we are making impressive progress on a number of fronts.

1. We are holding on our expectations to achieve our 2014 financial plan and complete the deliverables outlined in our plans. Accomplishments in Q1 and Q2 include exceeding our Corporate Partner and Women of the Year event sponsorship targets and meeting expectations for our new virtual Career Conversations program.

We have also made great strides in membership. We are already within half a percentage point of meeting our end of year membership goals.

We completed a major research initiative and convened our senior leadership from across Europe and the USA to hear the data presentation and discuss how best to act on the important voice of the customer.

We have begun the rollout of our HBA leadership competency framework to which we will align our programming efforts to continue to bring consistent high quality offerings to our community of 30,000+.

Finally, we have launched a pilot program that enables our chapters to bring Corporate Partner packages to new companies, broaden our healthcare footprint and create a stronger “One HBA” business model.

2. We are on schedule with the initial debut of our enhanced HBA brand which will more effectively communicate our value proposition to our key stakeholders.

Our initial brand reveal was presented at the Woman of the Year event in NYC on May 1. Our new logo and tagline are the result of our market research and analysis of our key stakeholders including members, non-members, Corporate Partners, and prospect companies. Further messaging and brand positioning will be complete in time for our full brand roll out at our HBA Annual Conference in November.

As a way of honoring our 35th year as an association, we have refreshed our brand in conjunction with launching our Wall of Recognition to honor women leaders important to each of us; allowing us to build and broaden our community of leaders association wide.

3. Finally, we just celebrated a remarkably successful 25th anniversary of the Woman of the Year event recognizing three distinguished leaders in biopharma, healthcare delivery, and consultative services.

We celebrated the accomplishments of our three Women of the Year—

  • Shideh Sedgh Bina, founding partner of Insigniam and editor in chief of Insigniam Quarterly
  • Annalisa Jenkins, MBBS, MRCP, executive vice president and head of global research and development for Merck Serono
  • Patricia A. Maryland, DrPH, president of healthcare operations and chief operating officer of Ascension Health

We have the opportunity to continue to broaden our engagement of women worldwide. Including representation from three industry segments widens our exposure and welcomes more women to learn and take advantage of the benefits of the HBA to promote a strong network, career advancement and enhancement, and leadership development. This in turn will fuel growth and promotion of women as leaders throughout our industry.

All in all, it has been a busy and productive first half of the year. We are looking forward to more progress against our strategic initiatives and addressing some of the cornerstone needs of our chapters. Work is underway to provide greater volunteer leader on-boarding support, member and corporate support, and new benefit generating activities.

With greater tour de force behind us and our inspiring HBA esprit de corps in front of us, we can start to move the needle on our industry influence and impact. We will truly be “Living Up to Our Name” in 2014.

Thank you for the honor and privilege to serve the HBA as association president in 2014.

Here’s to a terrific second half of the year!

Best to all,


Jeanne Zucker
Vice President Client Development, athenahealth
2014 HBA President


1. As measured by women holding the CEO role in healthcare companies (medical and health service managers) according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in July 2012.



Pilot WIScience Scholarship Program is a success – “it’s scientifically proven”

June 20, 2014
Sonia Step

Sonia Step
PhD Student
University of Pennsylvania


Kate Sheffey Biotechnology Masters Program, Johns Hopkins University Senior Chemist Supernus Pharmaceuticals, Inc.


Martha Sklavos, PhD Postdoctoral Fellow Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research

Natalie Leach Stringer, PhD

Natalie Leach Stringer, PhD Assistant Professor Northern Virginia Community College




By: Rachana Sainger PhD, Jocelyn Ulrich, MPH, and Jennifer Jaskowiak MBA

The HBA Mid Atlantic Chapter Women in Science (WIS) Affinity Group recently completed a pilot professional development scholarship program initiated in 2013. The program titled “WIScience Scholarship: The Premier Catalyst for Developing Women Leaders in Science” provided an excellent opportunity for budding scientists and women in scientific or technical roles to advance their careers, build networks among peers and volunteer for a premier association for the advancement of women as thought leaders in healthcare. The scholarship program was recognized by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter Board with a 2013 Innovation Award. This award recognized the creation of the new program to expand HBA membership deeper into the scientific/government sectors. The program itself raised visibility of the HBA within these sectors. The program was developed to attract budding and aspiring healthcare professionals with scientific backgrounds from academia and government organizations in the Mid-Atlantic region to the HBA. All scholarship recipients were expected to experience the value of the HBA through participation in HBA WIS or Mid Atlantic chapter meetings, participate in 6-8 meetings throughout the year with their assigned mentor, and volunteer in HBA initiatives or activities. Each recipient also prepared a short essay describing their experiences and what they learned during the year as a scholarship winner.

Four professionals with different scientific backgrounds in the earlier stages of their careers – Natalie Leach Stringer, PhD, Sonia Step, Kate Sheffey and Martha Sklavos, PhD were selected as WIScholarship recipients for the year 2013-2014. Based on feedback, mentoring appeared to be the most valuable aspect of the program for all of the recipients. Natalie Leach Stringer explained “Having her (Dr. Laurie Hill) as a mentor was the most beneficial part of this experience. She has helped me navigate the many “unknowns” of moving into the next career level. She has helped me develop a leadership presence and offered advice on work-life balance.” Kate Sheffey shared “I feel more confident in my own career and in my workplace, largely due to the mentorship afforded through the program.” Sonia Step explored options for a new career after completing her PhD through guidance from her mentor, while Martha Sklavos’ confidence was boosted while trying to navigate a career path by having a mentor (Gina Wilkerson) who was like “a coach, cheerleader, and confidant.”

The WIScience professional development scholarship program also provided a platform to network among professionals with varied backgrounds and to learn about new and exciting opportunities available in the healthcare industry. Networking can be awkward however as an HBA member it is a different story. Kate Sheffey found HBA “A safe place to discuss her ideal career trajectory and also to figure out the best way to achieve her goals.” For example, participating in an HBA webinar on social media helped Kate to connect with people in the scientific field more confidently than before and to learn how to leverage social media tools. Martha Sklavos is convinced that her career is on the rise as she engages and learns from HBA members who have first-hand knowledge of healthcare industry careers, culture, and competition, a chance provided by HBA scholarship. She feels HBA is a welcoming place where she “fits.

WIScholarship recipients also took advantage of volunteering opportunities provided during the program year. Martha Sklavos volunteered for a Mid Atlantic Chapter WIS program (Breast Cancer Patient Advocacy event held in October 2013 in Washington DC) and was involved in planning program content, orchestrating the silent auction, assembling badges for the event, and coordinating onsite registration. Natalie Leach Stringer gained leadership experience by engaging with the Mid Atlantic Chapter WIS Programming Subcommittee to evaluate chapter demographic data. After reviewing reports generated from the HBA membership database and descriptions of WIS outreach event goals, Natalie leveraged her well-honed analytical skills to generate recommendations for development of program content to target both current and new HBA members. Natalie shares that this experience “was very helpful for her as volunteer recruitment and marketing of educational programming is important for her current position and she plans to use this skill in the future”.

How has the WIScholarship program supported professional growth and career advancement? Martha Sklavos’ career trajectory “has been converted into a clear path as opposed to the foggy, winding road she felt she was previously taking as she tried to figure it out” independently. HBA scholarship recipients had the opportunity to meet experienced women in the pharmaceutical industry, explore and consider challenges facing professional women, and learn more about initiatives and opportunities offered by the HBA. By exploring different career paths in pharmaceutical companies through informational interviews, Sonia Step successfully achieved her career goal of securing a position in industry marrying her scientific background and desire to learn more about the drug development process following completion of her PhD. Natalie Leach Stringer intends to use the experience she gained as a HBA scholarship winner for enhancing her career as an assistant professor and carry forward the learnings to her students.

Overall the pilot WIScholarship program was an enriching experience for the four recipients. The professional development program enabled each to evaluate their career trajectory, flourish and gain self awareness under guidance of their mentors, and build a robust professional network. The volunteering experiences enabled the women to fulfill the mantra of the HBA by giving back. The WIScholarship program is currently being evaluated and we hope to continue to offer it to future women with technical and scientific backgrounds and support them as they forge their own path in the healthcare industry.


The WIScience Scholarship: The Premier Catalyst for Developing Women Leaders in Science” was funded by the HBA Mid Atlantic Chapter.

The HBA Mid Atlantic WIS Affinity Group would like to thank the Mid Atlantic Executive Board and HBA staff members for their support and contributions in the creation and implementation of this program. Specifically, we would like to thank Lea Carey, Carol Meerschaert, Liz Stueck, Linda Brock, and Gina Wilkerson for their support and contributions to content of the program. In addition, a special thank you to the WIScholarship Program Mentors for sharing their time, guidance and wisdom: Gina Wilkerson, Laurie Hill, Heide Cunning, and Stacey Melquist.




A scientist experiences the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association 2014 Woman of the Year event

May 29, 2014

by Martha Sklavos, PhD


How better to celebrate my year as an HBA-MA WIScience scholarship recipient than to rub elbows with the who’s who of elite leaders in industry, healthcare, and science at HBA’s silver anniversary of the Woman of the Year event,  which for the first time, is “women” of the year, honoring three stand-outs from three sectors of the healthcare industry? Every WOTY veteran I spoke with prior to the event shared rave reviews, but I still was not entirely sure what to expect.

Drs. Martha Sklavos and Gina Wilkerson at the Woman of the Year even

Drs. Martha Sklavos and Gina Wilkerson at the Woman of the Year event

I began WOTY day with my fabulous mentor, Gina Wilkerson. We met for breakfast and then descended on WOTY together. As we were changing out of our “sensible” NYC walking shoes into our “unsensible” shoes in the hotel lobby, a fellow HBA member took notice and joined us as she had the same task in mind. Instantly conversation ensued, connections were made and business cards were exchanged. Wow, was it really going to be this effortless to connect with other attendees? The answer was a resounding yes!I felt like I could have approached anyone at WOTY and been given a warm reception. Everyone was there to connect, share knowledge, and help one another grow.

During the networking sessions I spoke with executive recruiters, healthcare mavens, industry consultants, entrepreneurs, nurses, scientists, and the CEO of the HBA, Laurie Cooke.  At scientific conferences, networking can be difficult and awkward. The WOTY experience was the polar opposite. Networking was the spirit of the event and I found that all attendees, regardless of their career stage, were happy to share their experiences, encouragement, connections and insider tips. I found that the more senior leaders has a desire to speak with and advise those in the early stages of their careers, because they felt they benefited from guidance they received at a similar stage during their pursuit of the C-suite. My grandmother often said: “I was where you are and you’ll be where I am.” This could have been the WOTY motto except I would add “but I’ll help you get there faster and less-painfully.”

The award ceremony at WOTY was not just that, it was a seminar on how to succeed and was filled with inspiration. Annalisa Jenkins was one of the three 2014 HBA “Women of the Year” award winners and her message was especially impactful for me because she had also considered herself “only a scientist” earlier in her career. For a scientist preparing to forge a career in industry her advice was to take time every week to learn about the business side of science, read the Economist, pick up the New York Times and keep up with what is changing in the business of healthcare. WOTY really instilled that I must gain business acumen to align my thought process with the driving force of the pharmaceutical/biotechnology industry.

My year as a Women in Science scholarship recipient culminated with WOTY and my defining moment was when I realized I have to focus on selling my brand. Self-branding is not taught in grad school, but will likely be the most important thing I do as I embark on my job hunt this fall as it will shape my career, just as it has for the WOTY awardees. The HBA has been a guiding light that keeps getting brighter through HBA volunteerism, connecting with individual members, and attending virtual and live events within the organization. It scares me to think how in the dark I was before the HBA scholarship. What a difference a year makes!


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