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How to be a successful female leader: Q&A with Erin Keith

Erin Keith is the Senior Vice President of Specialty Pharmacy and Retail, and is part of the executive leadership team at Medical Pharmacies. For International Women’s Day 2020, the theme is #eachforequal, which stands for collective individualism. As an individual, Erin is the sole female on the seven-person executive leadership team; collectively, she represents an opportunity for all of us to help create a gender equal world. We sat down with Erin to ask her seven questions about becoming a successful female leader:

1) Tell us a little about yourself and what you do at Medical Pharmacies.

I am the Senior Vice President of Specialty and Retail at Medical Pharmacies. My role is to build an infrastructure and team that can create a platform for the growth of integrated care, with the goal of optimizing the experience and outcomes for both physicians and patients. Through the utilization of our specialty pharmacy expertise and our retail footprint, we help support the rapid access and ongoing management of medications and offer value-added services to support all stakeholders involved. Achieving this goal will help to support the healthcare needs and care that continually evolve with medication management. I have worked in the healthcare sector for over 18 years because I believe strongly in supporting and improving the lives and resources of those needing care.

2) Which leader inspires you most? What qualities make them a great leader?

It is difficult for me to name a leader, as many leaders over my career have inspired me, and various leaders in popular culture today inspire me, like Bono and Michelle Obama. To me, inspiring leaders are trustworthy and authentic, while challenging the status quo by empowering and influencing others. Bono has a great quote about this, “Real leadership is when everyone else feels in charge.”

3) Can you think of some hurdles/challenges you’ve faced as a female in reaching your career goals?

I have been fairly lucky throughout my career, but I did face some challenges early on by not being part of the ‘boys’ club‘. My peers had more opportunities for relationship-building and new corporate initiatives, because they went to sporting events or went out for drinks with the guys after work. In addition, gaining respect and appreciation for my successes took longer, and those successes had to be more meaningful.

4) What is the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?

Don’t rely on others to give you the confidence and acceptance you need to make a difference or impact as a leader; people can easily try to take that away from you. Aspire to make an impact in something you truly believe in, and others will follow your authenticity.

5) What does gender equality mean to you?

It’s not about being exactly the same as men; it’s about ensuring that all individuals, regardless of gender, have access to the same resources, opportunities and protections to allow them to develop to their greatest potential.

6) How can women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?

If you seek prominence, first and foremost – be passionate about what you’re doing.

  • Speak up and be heard – offer your perspective
  • Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo
  • Don’t be afraid to initiative a healthy debate

7) If you weren’t doing this for a living, what would you be doing right now?

I would be spend time learning more about the great, meaningful work executed by people and organizations globally, focused more on impact vs. revenue. I would love to see where and how I could support that.

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