Tag Archives: Leadership

Women in Leadership: Progress and Obstacles

Over the past 50 years, women’s labor force participation has increased by 53%, according to the United States Department of Labor. In that time, important legislation, such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 were passed, advancing women’s equality in the workplace. With each of these milestones, and others noted on this infographic, women continue to have more opportunities to pursue careers they find meaningful and fulfilling.

Despite these advances, challenges still exist as women pursue leadership roles. What can be done to close the gap and increase the number of female leaders in the U.S.? How do women successfully advance in their careers, and where is more support needed? These questions and others were raised during a recent thought leader dinner, hosted by AstraZeneca in partnership with the National Journal, and moderated by Emily Lenzner, Vice President of Global Communications, Atlantic Media.

thoughtdinner__ashleygainesphotoThe event brought together national thought leaders from Fortune 500 companies and non-profit organizations, former members of government, entrepreneurs, and members of the media in Washington, D.C. to discuss perspectives on advancing women in leadership. Bahija Jallal, Executive Vice President, AstraZeneca and head of MedImmune, hosted the event and led a lively conversation among the 20 female leaders in attendance.

The discussion encompassed a variety of topics, including the importance of women seeing other women in leadership roles so they could more easily envision themselves reaching higher positions. The topic of work-life balance naturally arose, and participants noted the conversation should be reframed to focus on work-life integration and the need to embrace flexibility. According to a Pew Research Center survey on women and leadership, children are not the leading reason women opt out of more significant roles. Only about one in five say women’s family responsibilities are a major reason there aren’t more females in top leadership positions.

thoughtdinner_gloriasinclairmillerAs one participant noted, men think about how they can fill professional roles even if they do not meet all of the qualifications. Conversely, women are more likely to doubt their skills if they do not meet all the requirements. In 2014, Forbes reported that “men are confident about their ability at 60%, but women don’t feel confident until they’ve checked off each item on the list.”

Leaders discussed strategies and opportunities for gaining confidence in the workplace. One area of focus was the idea of moving outside your comfort zone. Women should become more comfortable with taking risks and accepting assignments that may not be “the path well traveled”, but demonstrate leadership skills. The ability to ask for feedback, and the willingness to fail after taking a chance were cited as tools for women to use in the workplace. Participants also pressed the importance of women collaborating and networking with each other to create a support system.

thoughtdinner_bahijajallalphoto2The evening concluded with points about how thought diversity will take companies further, and the ways in which women can begin to open up those thought channels by accepting opportunities and remaining resilient despite setbacks that may occur.

As one attendee noted, quoting what United States House Representative Member Geraldine Ferraro said describing her friend and fellow politician Congresswoman Bella Abzug upon her passing: let women not knock politely on the door, but take it off its hinges.

The dinner was part of a series of events coordinated by National Journal LIVE, a premier events business that convenes top leaders in the Washington, D.C. area to discuss possible solutions to the country’s biggest challenges.

Paul Hudson Speaks to MBA Students about Global Change Management

Paul Hudson, President, AstraZeneca US and Executive Vice President, North America, went back to school this month to speak to MBA students about global change management. The International Management course is one of many classes offered to AstraZeneca employees on site at the AstraZeneca Wilmington campus as part of the University of Delaware’s MBA program.

Paul, a native to the United Kingdom with over 25 years in the pharmaceutical industry, has spent his career collecting experience working internationally and across cultures. Specifically, he shared learnings from leading AstraZeneca businesses in Spain, Japan and most recently in the United States. Paul shared the two driving factors behind his personal leadership approach – gaining experiences that make him more effective and striving to improve the ways that groups function.

Paul gave students insight into various change situations he experienced to illustrate how different situations require different leadership approaches. “You have to earn the right for people to want to follow you and learn from you,” Paul said, when reflecting on how culture drives performance.

Paul shared a story about starting a new role in Japan in the aftermath of a tsunami and an earthquake. Very quickly he learned the importance of understanding how to responsibly prioritize the needs of employees, families and patients – making this his priority in a time of crisis for the organization. In Spain, Paul sought feedback about how to positively impact business performance and identified an opportunity to accelerate employee engagement. He focused on involving employees in the changes he was making to ensure they felt ownership in contributing to the future success of the organization. In the US, Paul had to anticipate changes that needed to happen in the short-term to ensure the organization’s long-term success in the future healthcare environment. This meant making changes to the way the business traditionally operated and building new capabilities within the organization, work that continues today.

All these experiences have a common learning, Paul explained. While many leadership books tell you to be a change agent, first you must understand the culture and rhythm of an organization. You need to accelerate the things that are going well and determine how this can lead to a high-performance culture. At the same time, you need to be open-minded to challenging an existing culture in areas where you think it’s holding performance back. It’s once you understand the culture of the organization that you can see how far you can stretch it. Paul urged students to stay focused on the big picture when making difficult management decisions. “You need to keep the future of the company in mind; it’s your job to think five years down the line,” he said. He added that the students should “have courage, especially when there’s risk.”

Paul Hudson Shares AZ’s Philosophy for Success with Students

Paul Hudson, President, AstraZeneca U.S. and Executive Vice President, North America, recently spoke at the first Hope University leadership retreat, urging students to pursue their dreams by being passionate about what they do, engaging with mentors and not being afraid to fail.

Hope University – organized by Bringing Hope Home – is designed to link students in grades seven through 12 interested in community service with nonprofit organizations in the greater Philadelphia area.

Hudson, who serves on the board of Bringing Hope Home, told the students that employers like AstraZeneca are looking for employees who are “more than a resume” and are committed to being leaders in their professional and personal lives. That, he said, makes the company a great place to work for those dedicated to improving people’s lives.

Hudson_Hope U_10-2

Paul Hudson speaks with attendees of the first Hope University leadership retreat.

Hudson shared his passion for improving the lives of people in their communities and encouraged the students to identify what motivates them and, by tapping into their strengths, to bring that passion to life. As the students begin to think about career paths, he said, they should keep three things in mind:

  • Build life experiences, which are just as important as the majors they pick in school.
  • Find a good mentor, who can help them kick around ideas and share life experiences.
  • Learn to “fail fast.”

On this last point, Hudson told them that failure is an inevitable – and vital – part of the learning experience. Failing is acceptable, so long as they learn from their mistakes and identify how they can bring about meaningful change.

As the leader of AstraZeneca in the U.S., Hudson strives to promote a culture of entrepreneurs, made up of driven individuals who are bold enough to challenge the status quo, take smart risks, and adjust quickly based on results. In this way, the company stays agile and can continuously evolve to better serve patients and communities. AstraZeneca is implementing this philosophy with our Open Innovation approach, through which we rapidly develop and test ideas, quickly eliminating those that do not work, while learning from each of those experiences that can ultimately lead to greater progress.

Hudson concluded with the students by stressing the importance of leadership – a concept that is difficult to define and explain. Instead, he illustrated it by encouraging the students to “be the bee.”

With that, he shared the story of how bees fly – and the fact that scientists long believed that the laws of aerodynamics suggest that the bumblebee should not be able to fly because it does not have the required wing area or flapping speed to support the weight of its body. Yet it manages to get off the ground.

While there are many theories to explain how this happens – just like there are many theories on leadership – the important point is that we can’t always neatly explain concepts. Sometimes what seems improbable or impossible is actually possible. The lesson, Hudson said, is that anything is possible, even if it is difficult to explain or define – and that is the belief that must guide the students as they continue their education and begin thinking about their careers.

Bringing Hope Home, “a non-profit organization that provides unexpected amazingness to local families with cancer through financial and emotional support. Through our Light of Hope Family Grant Program, we offer a one-time grant to pay essential household bills for families with cancer in the Greater Philadelphia Area.”

AstraZeneca announces leadership appointments in Americas

AstraZeneca announced today the appointment of Rich Fante as Regional Vice President, Americas, and Marion McCourt as Chief Operating Officer of the company’s U.S. business.

Already responsible for leading the company’s commercial operations in North America, Fante will now also lead Central America and South America in his new role while retaining his responsibilities as President of the U.S. business.

McCourt – currently the President and CEO, AstraZeneca Canada – will be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the U.S. business in the company’s largest market and heading the U.S. Leadership Team.

The full press release can be found here.