Risky Business: Women Execs in Medtech Talk Smart Risk Taking, Dangerous Inactions
Self-judgment, career lattices, and owning errors
In addition to admitting what you don’t know, seeking mentors, making lateral moves, and owning mistakes were points made by panelists in the Q&A discussion hosted by Erin Pipech, Senior Manager, Global Business Development Operations and Planning at Olympus. The following are some excerpted responses to Erin’s questions:
Q: Tell me about how you cope with imposter syndrome.
A: We judge ourselves against other people rather than trusting that we’re intelligent and know our businesses in and out. It’s imposter syndrome. And we don’t take risks because of it. That’s where your personal Board of Directors comes in. The people around you—friends, family, professional mentors—often see in you what you can’t see in yourself. We need mentorship and sponsorship at work, and we need the support of our friends and family at home. They help us realize our potential.
It’s also so important to talk to people who might seem intimidating at first. It can feel like the high-powered people on the top floor know everything, but if you start hearing their stories or telling them your mistakes, they often say, “Oh yeah, but you should hear what I’ve done,” and it’s always way worse! Their stories make me laugh and help me realize if there’s hope for them, there’s hope for me.
--Valerie Dixon, Managing Director, Healthcare Investment Banking Group, Morgan Stanley
Q: As you think about growing in your career, what are some smart risks people don’t always consider?
A: Often, people come into my office and say, “I want to get promoted.” But career growth isn’t always about linear promotion – it’s also about lateral moves. I call it the career lattice, not the career ladder.
Pictured from Left: Gabriela Kaynor, Valerie Dixon, Donna Ford-Serbu, Jessica Schneck, Erin Pipech
If you want to get to general management or be CEO of your company or do something broader than your functional area, you have to take lateral moves. Move to different parts of the organization. Get a feel for how other people work. Get a feel for what everybody is talking about. Speak their language. Do it early. Then, when you’re in a leadership position, you know where the teams are coming from. A lateral move can be a risk, and it can be a smart risk.
--Donna Ford-Serbu, co-founder and CEO, Eximis Surgical
Q: When you make a mistake, especially if it’s a noticeable mistake, how do you cope? How do you stay positive and keep your learner mentality?
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