On October 15, 2013, Athenahealth hosted the Boston XX in Health mixer. It was a wonderful evening of bright and curious women interested in catalyzing change in healthcare who came together in a lovely space to exchange ideas and learn from each other. We heard from industry veterans about their experiences navigating the corporate ladder and helping to instill positive changes that promote women in leadership. The whole event was conceived by Ashley Boyd, an XX in Health ambassador.
Leslie Brunner, Senior Vice President of People and Process at Athenahealth was the moderator. The panel discussion featured Naomi Fried, Chief Innovation Officer at Boston Children’s Hospital; Dana Safran, Senior Vice President for Performance Measurement and Improvement at Blue Cross Blue Shield; Lesley Solomon, Strategy and Innovation Director of the Biomedical Research Institute at Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and Mary Kate Foley, Vice President of User Experience at Athenahealth.
XX in Health is an initiative of Rock Health. XX in Health hosts curated events and fosters online engagement and support through leadership. Rock Health provides startups with funding and full-service support. Their partners span medical institutions, venture capital firms, and corporate strategic partners.
XX in Health Attendees Hanna Adeyema (MBA at MIT Sloan and Co-Founder of Tenacity Health), Maria Vertkin (Founder of Found in Translation), Laura Wong (MD/PhD in neuroscience), and Bina Julian (PhD in Molecular Pharmacology).
Leslie Brunner: Many successful leaders, both male and female, credit the importance and the power of learning from those who went before. How did you find strong mentors in your professional careers?
Lesley Solomon: My mentors are from those I work most closely with and are from those who are the most honest with me. At my first job at the Food Network immediately after I had graduated from Cornell and I thought I could take on the world, I was told that “You are not a princess here. You need to get on the floor and stuff envelopes and do the dirty work and do the time just like everyone else.” And then the next day, I realized that this was the person that I could gain the most from. I learned the most from people who were brutally honest with me and made me a better person.
Dana Safran: Until recently, I don’t think I looked for mentors in the traditional sense. I have always actively surveyed the landscape where ever I was for people I really admired and found ways to spend time and talk with them. The one trait that all these people that I really admired had was that they were always promoting the younger people around them into visibility. If you surround yourself with really talented, smart, and innovative people, and you give them a lot of running room and credit for everything they do, then the span of what you can accomplish is so much broader. And it’s so much FUNNER. Look for people in life who are generous.
Mary Kate Foley : I have been very lucky to be able to tell when I’ve had good bosses and bad bosses. I’ve been very lucky to have a some very good bosses. These very good bosses are often people who can take time out of their day to reflect with me on what is going well or what wasn’t and how to improve.
Naomi Fried: One of the mentors that I had early in my career was actually not someone I knew professionally, but who was a friend. This friend introduced me to the Dean of Stanford at a time in my career when I was in transition where I had finished my PhD at MIT, but I wanted to do something else. The Dean suggested that my friend and I work on this project. It did great and was spun out into a great company. It was a great health IT company, and I was the first CEO of it. My friend really taught me a lot with that start-up. But it was completely unexpected and serendipitous. The other thing that I would talk about is the benefit to you when you are mentoring others. In graduate school, I would often invite undergraduates to visit me in the lab. It was great for me to have company and impart what wisdom I had, and it gave them the opportunities to ask questions about graduate school and what I was doing. The most successful leaders are those who have the most prodigies–these are people that they invest in and that they talk to. Then they go out into the business world and are successful on their own, but keep that relationship. The younger and junior people can really enhance your career. Don’t just do it for the selfless reason, but do it for the selfish reason. Realize that mentorship is a two way street and benefits go both ways.
My passion is healthcare optimization, whether that is with innovation, making scientific discoveries, or improving delivery. I love bringing people and ideas together and making projects work. With this, medicine exists to improve lives, and I will strive to always help patients and those around me.
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