When I was growing up, the best way to get me to do something was to tell me that I couldn’t do it. That would motivate me. For example, my college advisor told me that I’d never be accepted into medical school. but I was. years later, I earned my MBA, too.
My best advice is: Never take “no” as a final answer. Instead, explore what the “no” really means. What are the alternatives? is there a different method, format, or avenue? Can I work this out? How? Trust your own abilities, and have confidence in your own remarkable potential. Don’t discount yourself.
I come from a family headed by Depression-era parents who did not have the opportunity to attend college. Early on, my parents established the clear expectation that we were all college bound. They also imparted a very strong work ethic. They expected top grades from my siblings and me. Today we are doctors, engineers, and nurses. My parents set high goals for us. They expected us to achieve and reach our potential. That was a gift.
I attended an all-girls high school in western Pennsylvania, where the girls ran the show. We gained valuable leadership experience and learned about the power of collaboration and teamwork. Later, I attended a medical school established in 1850 exclusively for women. When I arrived there in the 1980s, the classes were still approximately 60 percent women. Women physicians were the department chairs and professors. I learned from these role models to have the courage to break barriers.
As a physician, I had the opportunity to manage a practice. I was elected the president and became so interested in the business side of medicine that I decided to earn my MBA. I saw an exciting new direction and pursued it, developing new skills and maintaining the flexibility and confidence to grow.
Now I’m fortunate to work at Highmark, where I combine my skills in medicine and business overseeing the development of medical policy and utilization management activities. Highmark is unique in its large number of female executives. What strikes me is how very effective they are in their jobs, their visibility, and their willingness to assist other women in their professional development. Women in management roles here are generous with their time and experience in mentoring others. Now, that’s a winning attitude!