Women Leaders Are Making a Difference

In celebration of Women's History Month, NPC asked our women Board members to share their insights on the importance of having women in leadership and their advice to young leaders.

By Kathryn Gleason, Sharon Phares and Andrea Hofelich

We’re inspired by the women leaders we’re privileged to work with every day – women who are helping to mentor colleagues, inspire future leaders, and make their mark in health care. We’re fortunate to have many female leaders serving on NPC’s Board of Directors – nearly half of our Board – which offers us an opportunity to learn from them about the challenges they’ve faced in their careers and how to overcome them.

In recognition of women’s history month and how we can all make an impact in different ways, we asked our Board members to share their insights on three key questions.

What is the importance of having women in leadership? What is the impact?

Christian Nguyen

"Teams, companies, countries … all benefit from having inclusive and equal participation from women leaders.  Our ideas are richer, our goals are bolder, and organizations are stronger as a result."

Christian Nguyen
Vice President, Value, Evidence and Outcomes
Eli Lilly and Company

Shontelle Dodson

"One of the greatest motivating factors in my career has been to demonstrate what’s possible for our next generation. Women leaders can inspire our youth – including but not limited to girls – to envision and realize their full potential."

Shontelle Dodson, PharmD
Senior Vice President, Medical Specialties
Astellas Pharma US, Inc.

How does having women in leadership shape and change the work (e.g., is it how we communicate or collaborate)?

Patty Fritz

"Women in leadership play an invaluable role in shaping the future of work by increasing diversity of thought, enhancing communication and collaboration, and developing talent through mentorship and sponsorship."

Patty Fritz, MS
Head, U.S. Corporate Affairs
UCB, Inc.


"Pay as much attention to how things happen in your company as to the work you are delivering. Have a vision, understand your path to career success, and look to mentors and sponsors to guide you in making that vision a reality, knowing that the vision will change along the way. And above all, be proactive – take control and make things happen for you, rather than letting them happen to you."

Blasine Penkowski, MBA
Chief Strategic Customer Officer
Johnson & Johnson

What's one piece of advice you'd give to young women leaders?

Tsveta Milanova

"My advice to young women leaders is to make a conscious effort to be vocal about your curiosities and interests in the workplace. Doing so will help the right mentors find you organically and encourage sponsors to think of you when career opportunities arise."

Tsveta Milanova
Senior Vice President, U.S. Commercial Operations
Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Jan Hansen

"The one piece of advice I would give all young leaders is to be courageous by thinking big, asking the tough questions, and being driven and focused on the impact your actions and work can have."

Jan Hansen, PhD
Vice President, Evidence for Access Medical Unit
Genentech, Inc.

Christine Marsh

"Leadership is about the many, not the one, including inspiring and developing those around you. Success is dependent on the individuals who make up the team, and nurturing their development will contribute to the next generation of quality leaders."

Christine Marsh, MBA
Senior Vice President, Market Access
Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Jen Norton

"Become a mentor! No matter where you are in your career, there is someone who can learn from you. And in sharing the story of your personal journey, you’ll learn a lot about yourself along the way."

Jen Norton
Vice President, Head of U.S. Value and Access

Leigh Anne Leas

"It’s OK to not have a detailed roadmap for your career. Some of my most exciting and successful career experiences occurred when I said yes to unexpected opportunities that took me out of my comfort zone."

Leigh Anne Leas
Vice President and Head, North America Public Policy
Novartis Services Inc.

NPC also has been working to foster women’s leadership in our own organization, as well as in our biopharmaceutical member companies, by hosting members-only conversations about topics such as career challenges, finding inspiration, and working with mentors and allies.

The post was written by Kathryn Gleason, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President, Sharon Phares, Chief Scientific Officer, and Andrea Hofelich, Vice President of Communications, all with the National Pharmaceutical Council.