HBA CEO on new era: responsibility in health, entrepreneurship, and financial equity, and informing legislators

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Mary Stutts, HBA

HBA CEO on new era: responsibility in health, entrepreneurship, and financial equity, and informing legislators

“If women aren’t in decision-making roles, then the best decisions won’t always be made,” declared Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association’s (HBA) CEO Mary Stutts. “If our workplaces are not inclusive and representative of our patient populations, health equity will never become a reality.” Stutts opened the HBA’s annual Woman of the Year program with a call to action for the professionals in the room as well as the broader industry. “We all share the moral and ethical responsibility, as well as the financial obligation, to do better. We’re in a new era.”

This new era has been a collision between strides forward in the balance and advancement of women working in the healthcare industry, and the erosion of women’s reproductive rights on a national level. While HBA does not take political sides, Stutts emphasized that the organization will continue to help inform those in legislative roles, striving to bring balanced health and wellness perspectives as it relates to women and families. “For too long, decisions about women’s health have been in the hands of those who can never know what it is to be a woman in our world,” she said, met with emphatic applause. “The HBA is here to ensure they are well informed on the issues so they can never again claim to not understand the weight of their actions.”

Stutts also noted that HBA’s efforts will be casting a wider net to include issues that include financial and entrepreneurship equity, ensuring women-owned businesses within the life sciences and digital health realm have the same financial support as male-owned businesses. “We must tackle workforce equity to ensure that healthcare pipelines never run dry of young, motivated and incentivized women coming to the healthcare workplace.”

“What’s at stake? Everything. Everything is at stake. As the world evolves, nothing is in more delicate condition than health care. And that impacts everyone – men, women, children, whole families, even future generations. There is much work to be done to fix, refine, and evolve health care around the world and the HBA has already proven its ability to be a change agent for the better.” – Mary Stutts, CEO of HBA

With the theme of Accelerating Transformational Leadership, this year’s Woman of the Year event was held on May 10 at the New York Marriot Marquis in Times Square, New York City. HBA celebrated 164 Rising Stars and Luminaries, with the association stating that this year’s cohorts were one of its most diverse ever.

Mary Stutts, HBA

HBA CEO Mary Stutts, at the 2024 Woman of the Year event

Virtual watch parties were held across the globe, with attendees hearing from various locations, including HBA Milan, Johnson & Johnson Brazil, where they discussed their initiatives and goals in the region, and HBA Toronto, where members talked about how, with their local theme of Anchor of Stability, they are providing safe spaces and support. Toronto will be the location of this year’s HBA Annual Conference in September.

The 2024 Woman of the Year honor went to Dr. Yvonne Greenstreet, CEO of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals. Greenstreet has served as CEO of the biopharmaceutical company since October 2021. During her acceptance speech, she talked about her journey from childhood (born in London and raised in Ghana, surrounded by a diverse and dynamic family) to earning her medical degree and practicing medicine in England, to pursuing an MBA and moving into the biotech/biopharma world, where she felt could impact exponentially more patients. Before joining Alnylam, Greenstreet held senior roles at Pfizer and GSK. “I don’t view overcoming obstacles of race and gender as the thing that has defined me, because in my view, obstacles are there to be navigated and overcome. In the end, if you are determined enough to try and accomplish something, you will figure it out,” Greenstreet stated. “Being here with all of you today – this amazing, inspiring, encouraging community that is HBA – reinforces the very deep conviction of the importance of what we do together in health care… but also the tremendous assignment of what’s possible.”

HBA’s Strategic Transformation Achievement Recognition (STAR) went to Kathrin Schoenborn, Ph.D., chair emerita of HBA Europe. In 2010, Schoenborn co-founded the HBA location in Frankfurt, Germany and helped build the association’s presence in Europe (including formalizing their mentoring program in the region) as well as for HBA Asia Pacific. “Growth means continually building in the unknown,” said Schoenborn, offering attendees practical advice. “Build your network before you need it. Also refine those skills and capabilities that are beyond your professional four walls to create a learning space for yourself.”

Otis Johnson, Ph.D. received the HBA Honorable Mentor Award, which recognizes a male ally who shows long-term commitment to advancing and mentoring women in the industry. “Imagine a workplace where every policy, every practice is designed with the principle of gender equality at its core. In this workplace, opportunities for growth and leadership are equally accessible to all, regardless of gender,” said Johnson, who is co-founder and principal consultant at Trial Equity. “I have always believed that our strength lies in our differences. Diversity is not just a metric to achieve; the data is clear, that diverse teams are more innovative, they drive growth in our industry and deliver better return on investment.”

HBA 2024 Woman of the Year

(left to right) Kathrin Schoenborn, Ph.D. (Strategic Transformation Achievement Recognition ; STAR), Dr. Yvonne Greenstreet, CEO of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (2024 HBA Woman of the Year); Otis Johnson, Ph.D. (HBA Honorable Mentor Award), principal consultant at Trial Equity