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Leadership & Management

Leaving an inspirational legacy by taking action and making a difference, Medicines Australia CEO

Health Industry Hub | September 20, 2021 |
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Leadership & Management: Welcome to Health Industry Hub’s Women in Leadership Series – connecting, engaging and empowering women in the Pharma, MedTech and Biotech sectors by celebrating and sharing the journey of inspirational and passionate women leaders in the industry.

In an interview with Health Industry Hub, Elizabeth de Somer, CEO of Medicines Australia, reflects on what has changed for women in leadership, how she found purpose on her journey and navigated through the storm with her integrity and pride intact, the key leadership lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the lasting leadership legacy she aspires to leave behind.

Ms de Somer said that the conversation around leadership has transformed. “There is recognition that regardless of whether you’re male or female, leaders need to be empathetic and they need to show some vulnerability. There is a change in the discussion about successful leadership and what really leads to successful leadership. The pressure has also been taken off women to compete in a masculine environment, and to be masculine in order to compete.

“There is still some difficulty in women getting selected for those really senior leadership roles across different sectors, and so there’s still work to be done. We’ve seen the data from WGEA on gender equity and there is still a missing link between senior executive positions and the top jobs going to women,” she added.

In navigating uncertain and challenging times, resilience has been the most important trait she has called upon. “Being an intensive care nurse, you’re always working in a fast paced and rapidly changing environment where things can turn into a crisis very quickly. I’ve always thrived in a crisis environment and I rise to it quite easily and confidently. Resilience is also recognising and dealing with some of the mediocrity and mundaneness of the day to day life. Integrity and living your values should be the way everybody operates regardless of the challenges you’re faced with.”

In inspiring others in the pharma industry and leaving a lasting legacy, Ms de Somer added “It is about having a clear idea of what needs to happen and actually making a difference. I’d like people to look back and say, there was a time when it was very difficult to get medicines listed on the PBS or there was a time it was very difficult for industry to be heard or for patient voices to be included, and [my team and I] make that difference for the industry and patients.”


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