What kind of improvement, change or growth are you trying to achieve at Caligor Coghlan?
We look for year over year growth, we are approximately a $80M company and would like to grow to over $100m in revenue in the future focused on company efficiencies and new technologies.
We want to make sure we have industry leaders within the specialist areas of clinical trials, packaging, and labelling, as well as comparator sourcing. Hiring people that know that area and can sit with the client and meet their needs is critical.
A lot of clinical companies tend to think of clinical trials as an operationally focused business and it is but it is so much more especially when you are consulting with your clients and uncovering their unmet needs. You need to understand what a pharma and biotech company goes through when they are developing a drug and what they are looking for in terms of getting into the market. The end result is to get an effective drug to the market that is safe and effective with the disease that’s out there that we don’t have an answer for, or we have an evolved drug that gives a better solution.
Understanding the unmet need of the market and the client is very critical.
What achievements are you especially proud about?
My first CEO role was when I was in my late 20’s. I did not expect to be a CEO that young in my career and I was fortunate to have great mentors and great leaders that trained me to have the opportunities and learned skills that I needed to be the leader I am today.
I think what I am most proud of is accelerating my career and being the leader that I need to be and delivering on what I promise to do.
7.4% of the companies on this year’s Fortune 500 are led by female CEOs. As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier, if any, in your career?
There are some companies that say they are diverse and aren’t. They don’t represent the diversity in thought, diverse populations, and the clients they serve. In life sciences and healthcare, we service a very diverse population, all different cultures and backgrounds and experiences. Our leadership team and employee base should represent that.
As you build a strategy and go to market a service, you must understand your end user and their thought process and experiences. You can’t do that if you are “mono-thought”. This happens when businesses all think one way because the leadership team hired in the likeness of the he/she and they all walk and talk the same language. No diverse thoughts, no safe place to challenge respectfully, no platform to share ideas and take risks. They hire people who are just like them. You don’t get that diversity of thought.
With companies that are like that, you can see it. You can see from their leadership team, even from the VP down, or across their C-suite levels – if they are not diverse you can see what type of company they are.
Sometimes you have to move yourself out of that culture. If it’s not the culture you can thrive in, you have to look for another company. Not all of my career moves have been promotions. Some have been lateral movements to gain experience in a new industry or area.
How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?
As women we need to prioritise. I have a daughter who is 26 this year and I travelled a lot when I was progressing through my career. But I have only missed 4 of her events as she was growing up in that entire time. The reason for that is because of the support I had from my spouse and my bosses. I made sure the company I worked for valued my homelife/work balance, and children as much as I valued their work and working for the company.
Your job can be replaced tomorrow, you cannot replace your family, so you must have that balance. Earlier in my career I did not have that balance, I was a workaholic. Then when I moved into the director level, I really had to balance family and work.
How important has it been to your success to have mentors supporting you?
I had bosses that identified my skillsets early who said, wow, this is someone who can be greater than they are. I was always trained that you hire 2 levels above what you are hiring for so when you do that, you want to make sure they have the resources to be successful and you have a pipeline for potential leaders.
My supervisor allowed me to have a mentor, and I would always reach out to people who had the job that I wanted, or had roles that what I wanted to do to give me their view of what it took to be successful in that role.
Often we have people approach us because they only want a job, and when you are in search of a mentor, you need to find that mentor before you want a job so you can truly understand what it takes to be that leader. You may think you’re ready for a certain position when you are not.
A good mentorship is a very confidential one that occurs between the mentor and the mentee. It’s one that’s built on trust and true communication that if there’s a gap, that mentor can tell them and shape and develop them to be the leader that they want to be.
What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions?
Know the roles you want to go into. When I have spoken to women about what they want to be when they grow up, a lot of them would say they are not sure. If you are not sure, how do you know what goals to set and how to get there?
It might be 2-3 different paths. You must have a plan for each one of those and then go and find mentors that can help you get the skills that you need to get there.
One question I always ask is “do you have a job description of the job that you are interested in?” Do you know what is required of that job? If you get a job description, you can do a head to head comparison to know what your skillsets are today, and what you need in the future, take those gaps and do what you need to do to help you develop those gaps into strengths.
We might think we need to be perfect to go for that job but that is not true. You might have 70% of the skillsets and still go after the job, it is about having the ability to learn the rest – we have to be open to that.
Understand what the job takes, have good people around you to mentor you, and go for it.