The HBA’s 28th annual Woman of the Year luncheon was held on May 11th at the New York Hilton Midtown. The WOTY 2017 event was sold out with more than 2,200 attendees. In addition, 27 sites around the world streamed the event, with nearly 100 individuals watching live from their desk. On Twitter, almost 10 million impressions were generated with the #HBAimpact hashtag.

Bahija Jallal, Ph.D., was recognized as the 2017 Woman of the Year. Jallal serves as executive VP of AstraZeneca as well as head of MedImmune, which is the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca. She is responsible for biologics research, development and clinical activities.

Jallal joined MedImmune as VP, translational sciences in 2006 and became head of MedImmune during 2013. She has guided MedImmune through an unprecedented expansion of its pipeline; in 2007 MedImmune accounted for 5 percent of the overall AstraZeneca pipeline, and now it accounts for 50 percent. The company has more than 130 biologics in R&D and 40 products in clinical development. Jallal has authored more than 70 peer-reviewed publications and holds more than 15 patents. She is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research, the American Association of the Advancement of Science, and is president of the board of directors of the Association of Women in Science. Jallal additionally serves on the board of trustees of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Jallal received a master’s degree in biology from the Universite de Paris VII in France, and her doctorate in physiology from the University of Pierre & Marie Curie in Paris. She conducted her postdoctoral research at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany.

Introducing Jallal at the 2017 luncheon was Pascal Soriot, chief executive of AstraZeneca. “Every day, Bahija is an inspiration to her staff, the employees of MedImmune and AstraZeneca, countless scientists, business colleagues outside of the company and the hundreds of women and men across the globe who have had an opportunity to work with her in some capacity. She inspires me as well and I am proud of all the work she has done on behalf of patients,” Soriot said.

Jallal concluded her speech at the WOTY event by noting, “So now about the perception, or what I call ‘What would people think of me’ syndrome, to address this plight of perception I turn to one of my role models, Eleanor Roosevelt, who said ‘You would not worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.’ So ask yourself, are any of us so important that the world would stop just to think about what we are doing. So let’s rid ourself of this perfection and perception problem and empower ourself to be imperfect and to care less about what other people think of us. Always stay true to yourself, live your passion, love what you do, and along the way do not be afraid to fail. Dream big, and remind yourself that good comes from adversity. And do not worry if the road takes you on surprising detours, just listen to what your heart tells you. Use that as the foundation for becoming the scientist, the leader, and the woman you want to be.”  

Joaquin Duato, worldwide chairman, pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, was recognized as the 2017 Honorable Mentor by the HBA. Created in 2001, the Honorable Mentor award highlights an individual who demonstrates long-term advocacy for current and future women leaders, has a personal dedication to developing, mentoring and promoting women in the industry, and who has been supportive of the HBA’s core purpose to further the advancement and impact of women in the business of healthcare.

A respected, 32-year veteran of the industry, Duato has managed many teams throughout his career – always with strong women leaders. His leadership team at J&J includes six female leaders – two of which head the largest geographic regions for the company’s pharma business.

Duato has played an instrumental role in leading the dramatic turnaround of the J&J pharma segment since 2011. With a proven track record of creating innovative commercial solutions and processes to support the company’s cutting-edge medicines, he inspires employees to concentrate on transforming the lives of patients. In the same way he has accelerated the growth of the business, Duato has rapidly accelerated the growth of female management within the company’s pharma group.

Duato is chairman of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and an active board member of the U.S. Spain Council. Within J&J, he is the executive sponsor of the company’s African American Leadership Council. Duato’s dedication to nurturing a culture of diversity was recognized in 2015 when he was named one of America’s Top 10 Hispanic Business Leaders by Hispanic Career World.

As a father, Duato recognizes the significance of building strong female leaders at an early age. Duato has actively encouraged his daughter to seek out leadership opportunities with Save the Children – with whom he is a member of the Board of Trustees.
At the 2017 WOTY, Duato was presented by Alex Gorsky, chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson. “All of us at Johnson & Johnson are proud to have someone like Joaquin on the senior leadership team who has an uncompromising dedication to developing, mentoring and promoting women,” Gorsky said. “Joaquin is a living embodiment of Our Credo values and is a shining beacon for women’s development.”

Duato ended his speech at WOTY with this: “Mentoring is a diverse leader’s choice, a choice that I encourage all of you to make. Will mentoring solve all of the challenges that remain in encouraging and supporting female leaders? No, it is not going to solve all of the challenges, but surely it is a positive, crucial next step. If you have already taken the step of mentoring, thank you very much. But I also encourage you and challenge you to take it to the next level. Make the next move and start to sponsor your mentee. Be their champion to help them accelerate their careers. For me, this is a personal task, something that is very close to my heart. I want my daughter to be inspired by the work we do and to see that together we can forge a better path for the next generations of leaders. I encourage all of you to consider your own way. My way is my daughter and empowering her to follow her own dreams: Yes, a woman can be President.”

The HBA’s 2017 STAR (Strategic Transformation Achievement Recognition) is Ceci Zak, principal and COO at Batten & Co., which is a strategic consulting firm within Omnicom Group. Every year, the HBA honors a STAR who stands apart as a truly exemplary role model by demonstrating a long-term commitment to the association’s strategic goals of furthering the advancement and impact of women in the business of healthcare.

Zak is a 20-plus year pharma industry veteran. Batten & Co. builds and activates ambition for corporations by operating at the intersection of business, brands and culture. In this role, Zak concentrates on helping the C-suite articulate, align and activate their True North across internal and external stakeholders.

Previously, Zak was COO of healthcare at DAS/Omnicom, a global conglomerate of professional service agencies. Before joining Omnicom, she held various senior executive roles at Sanofi, leading global franchises such as Allegra, Actonel, Nasacort, and Xyzal as well as Centers of Excellence in Learning and Organizational Development, Digital and Commercial Innovation. Zak launched her career at Roche Pharmaceuticals and has held various positions in sales and marketing, ranging from product and franchise management, managed markets strategy and operations, sales management as well as market research and sales training.

An active participant in the community, Zak is a board member of HealthRight International, a global NGO focused on empowering marginalized communities to live healthy lives, as well as Julia’s Butterfly Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing funding to families with chronic and terminally ill children. She is also actively involved with the Pachamama Alliance, a nonprofit organization that strives to empower indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest to preserve their land and culture. Zak is additionally an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School.

Introducing Zak to the stage was Carolyn Buck Luce, managing partner at Imaginal Labs and 2012 HBA Woman of the Year. Zak concluded her comments to the crowd by remarking, “The opportunity to lead the HBA was the best education I have ever had. But more importantly, it’s about seeing those I mentored today give back to the world through volunteering with the HBA. And today, in memory of my mom, it’s time for me to start this next phase of my journey by reshaping the healthcare experience for humanity. This is truly my new purpose. So I am humbled by this work and recognition that I have done with the HBA and I know my mom and dad are looking down on us today, so mom and dad, this one is for you. Thank you for helping me realize that giving back is the greatest gift of all.”

The Woman of the Year luncheon additionally highlighted more than 100 Rising Stars and Luminaries. HBA Rising Stars are professionals in various sectors of the healthcare arena, including pharmaceutical, biotechnology, advertising, public relations, medical education and market research, among other fields. Nominated by the HBA’s Corporate Partners, the Rising Stars represent various career stages and disciplines, and have demonstrated noteworthy achievements and proven attention to advancing their careers. The HBA has been honoring Rising Stars since 1998.

Introduced in 2014 as part of WOTY’s 25th anniversary, the HBA continues to honor Luminaries. For the 2017 luncheon, the HBA recognized 34 senior women – identified by their Corporate Partner companies – who serve as a role in their company, actively mentor and sponsor others, help advance other women’s careers, and exhibit dedication to the healthcare industry. These luminary leaders account for more than 20 years of professional industry experience.

For listings of the 2017 Rising Stars and Luminaries, please visit these websites: and

The Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association is a global nonprofit organization comprising individuals and companies from across the healthcare industry committed to achieving gender parity in leadership positions, facilitating career and business connections and providing effective practices that enable organizations to realize the full potential of their female talent. The HBA accomplishes its mission via strong business networks, education, research, advocacy and recognition for individuals and companies. The association has nearly 120 Corporate Partners and 8,000 members served by more than 20 chapters and affiliates across the United States and Europe.