Greatest Failures – Women in Pharma Series

Participants gathered for the Women in Pharma (WIP) breakfast on day 2 of the 2017 ISPE/FDA/PQRI Quality Manufacturing Conference, held 5-7 June 2017.  Women in Pharma Chair Fran Zipp, President and CEO, Lachman Consultants and ISPE Board member, welcomed the audience of more than 100 attendees for a panel on “Bringing Education to Gender Parity.” There was such powerful exchanges of knowledge and experience during this breakout session that we felt it was beneficial to share. Below is the first installment of a 12-month series: “Its Time to Give Back.”

Greatest Failures What is your greatest failure? Ahh…the dreaded interview question. There is a reason this question gets asked in interviews–it reveals a lot about your character. How you respond to failure reveals your ability to take risks, face challenges, learn, grow and thrive from each experience. This question sparked a spirited discussion, however, the underlying lesson that repeatedly surfaced was,

"it is okay to fail, but it is never okay to give up.”

Stories of personal and professional crossroads were shared as the group consistently nodded in in agreement that said “yes, been there–done that.” Susan Stipa, President of McDay, shared a story from early on in her pharmaceutical career when a boss gave her poor reviews because she smiled too much. Looking back, Susan saw this learning experience as a failure on her part because she walked out of the room with her tail between her legs instead of probing her boss for details and plan for the future. It should be noted that Susan left this company soon after, smiling as she walked out the door! A male at the table admittedly told a story of passing over a woman for “the safer choice,” aka a man with a master’s degree, even though his gut told him the woman would have been a better candidate. While my knee jerk reaction is to roll my eyes at this ridiculous injustice, I remind myself to step back and appreciate that he learned from this failure, has grown enough to share this failure, and assumingly never took the safe choice again. Does the thought of failing prevent you from trying new things or pushing the envelope? You’ve heard the saying, “If you’re not changing, you’re not growing,” but ironically, each participant notes a time where they failed because they were too scared or too hesitant to step outside of their comfort zone. One participant attributed his success to the fact he “failed every day–if things were smooth, I’d never learn or grow.” These stories illustrate failure provides us an experience in which we learn, grow, and thrive, and in the end, it’s how we react that shapes our future. By: Alayna Russell Biotech + Pharma Market Manager CRB

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