Biggest Event Ever Marks HBA's 25th Anniversary
May 2, 2002, New York Hilton - New York, NY: This was the biggest HBA "Woman of the Year" (WOTY) luncheon ever, with more than 1,800 people turning out to honor Sarah S. Harrison, Vice President, Customer Strategy Integration, Public Affairs, for AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP (US business headquarters in Wilmington, DE). This WOTY event also may have been the most moving ever, as four of the six women who founded the HBA 25 years ago reminded us of how far we have come, and of the challenges that still lie ahead.
Four of the original co-founders: Ruth Smith, MD, Director of Personnel Health Services for St. Vincent's Catholic Medical Centers (New York, NY); Millicent Gryczka, Pharmacist, St. Barnabas Hospital (Bronx, NY); Sheila Sinkking, Vice President, Veritas Communications, Inc. (White Plains, NY); and Peg Dougherty, CMP, President and Owner, Custom Made Meetings, Inc. (North Egremont, MA), shared candid reminiscences in a tightly edited video produced by Osprey Communications (Greenwich, CT). They recalled the days before faxes and e-mail, when more than one of them was told, "We'd love to hire you but we can't because you're a woman." They thanked "a few men with vision" for helping women in the healthcare industry to progress and succeed over the years. The two other co-founders, Barnswell (Barni) Elliott and Dianne Anderson, were unable to attend.
"The HBA's continued growth, our evolution into a national organization with chapters from coast-to-coast, record membership, and the sell-out crowd today, all attest to the fact that the HBA's mission to support the advancement of women in the healthcare industry is now more important than ever," said Teri P. Cox, Immediate Past President of the HBA, Co-chair of the Woman of the Year Committee, and Senior Managing Partner at Cox Communications Partners (Lawrenceville, NJ).
More than 60 people sat in places of honor on the dais, and the largest ballroom in New York City, at the New York Hilton, was filled with 149 tables on the main floor and many others ringing the balcony above.
HBA President Mary E. Cobb, CEO and President of PACE, Inc. (Parsippany, NJ), introduced a theme that was reiterated and expanded on by other speakers throughout the day.
"We are here," she said, "because we care about women in the healthcare industry and about making a difference in the lives and health of people throughout the world. We are as diverse as the populations we servepeople with different goals and aspirations, working in partnership with our male colleagues to make important contributions to healthcare in many ways."
Rothwell Honored for Mentorship
The second annual HBA Honorable Mentor Award was given to Timothy Rothwell, Executive Vice President and President, Global Prescription Business, Pharmacia Corporation (Peapack, NJ). He also serves as a member of the HBA Advisory Board.
"Dare to dream!" Rothwell said. "Don't accept the notion of status quo; ignore artificial limits. Look beyond practicalities to possibilities." As to his long-term commitment to being a mentor, he said, "It's a little embarrassing to get an award for doing what you should be doing."
HBA President-elect Nancy Larsen, President of PROmedica Communications Inc. (New York, NY), joined Cobb in presenting the 41 Rising Star Awards, as well as the HBA Star Volunteer Award, given to Mariana Palacios, Partner, The Trillium Group, LLC (Penns Park, PA). Palacios has been an active HBA Board member for the past six years and played a major role in the formation of new HBA chapters in Boston, Atlanta and the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Goal: To Make a Difference
Last year's Woman of the Year, Carrie S. Cox, Executive Vice President of Pharmacia and President of its Global Prescription Business, opened the WOTY Award ceremony.
"We make a difference in what we do each and every day," she said. "Our goal must be to make an even bigger difference."
Sarah Harrison is one who does make a difference. David Brennan, President and CEO of AstraZeneca-US, described Harrison's career at AstraZeneca as "Twenty-five years of crusading for access. She has been a leader at every level, and her demands on herself inspire others. She has a passion to make a difference, with compassion and caring about her family, her community and her coworkers. Sarah richly deserves this honor."
Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner, the state's first woman governor, sent a special proclamation honoring Harrison, presented by State Senator Margaret Rose Henry (D-DE), the state's first African-American woman senator.
The Leader as Business Person and Humanitarian
Harrison's speech focused on the role of the leader as business person and humanitarian in turbulent times, and what each of us can do to help others in the changing demographic, social, political, economic, and healthcare environment.
"The qualities of leadership are more important than ever," Harrison said. "Future leaders need to combine the best qualities of business leadership and humanity." Quoting Jack Welch and Carly Fiorina, she urged people to tap into the unlimited idea flow from the human spirit—to give, receive and include, "because everyone has something to give, everyone has something they can stand to gain, and everyone does better as part of the whole."
"Our country's demographics are changing much more quickly than anyone anticipated," Harrison said. She noted that by 2020, over half the US population will be non-white.
"The pharmaceutical industry in particular needs to think about these realities in everything we do—from the development and design of clinical trials to how we market and sell our products and services. Make no mistake: the business implication of these demographic shifts is great—emphasizing diversity in all of our strategies is no longer a "nice thing to do" or "the right thing to do"—it's a business imperative."
Americans are Aging
Harrison also pointed to the aging population as an important consideration for the pharmaceutical industry and its leaders.
These changes in the industry are coming fast and with complexity and uncertainty, Harrison said. "We have to understand what role we play on every level."
She cited the Together Rx Program and other patient initiatives from the pharmaceutical industry as programs that will make a difference in the lives of millions of elderly uninsured patients by providing significant savings on more than 200 medicines.
"Certainly we know that this is only an interim solution and it only addresses part of the healthcare crisis, but we all should be very proud nonetheless. What more can we do, not just to better our own positions, but the health and welfare of others?"
Harrison closed by urging HBA members to "leave the world a better place than you found it, whether by an improved environment, business growth or a rescued soul. We all can make a difference...Each One, Reach One."