Phase Six: Regain Confidence - Pharmaceutical Executive


Phase Six: Regain Confidence
Not since 1997 has the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association given its Woman of the Year distinction to someone from the agency world. A former nurse, researcher and Big Pharma exec, Lynn O'Connor Vos, CEO of Grey Healthcare Group and this year's honoree, is on a mission.

Pharmaceutical Executive

"She went around the country and found that there was no cure, then she called a few of us and asked us to help her set up a foundation," says Vos. "I didn't know what that meant back then. But Kathy is a powerhouse, so we joined the board and got started."

"Lynn keeps me on my toes," says Giusti. "At board meetings she asks the right questions and asks them for the right reason. When you're a charity, you want to be in the right, and she puts you in that position."

"What's exciting about MMRF is that we invented something from nothing," says Vos. "That's what turns me on. That's the industry. The agency business? We're selling ideas. You start with nothing and create something. That's extremely exhilarating. Same with MMRF."

Another of Vos' significant commitments is to the Jed Foundation, founded in 2000 by Phillip Satow, another friend and client (they worked together on the launch of Celexa [citalopram].) Satow, an executive vice president and board member at Forest, was just days away from his scheduled retirement when his son Jed, a sophomore at the University of Arizona, committed suicide. "I had lunch with Phil about a month later," says Vos. "I said, 'What can we do? We've got to do something.'

"Teenage suicide is a huge problem. It's not so much that the number of suicides is increasing but that the attempts are going up, particularly among girls in college. With the help of many people at Grey Healthcare, we set up something called Ulifeline, an Internet program in more than six hundred and fifty colleges and universities that supports students and enables them to take a quiz to see if they or their roommate's at risk."

Currently the foundation is working with five Ivy League schools to develop recommendations for the kind of environment that reduces student suicide.

"It's nice to give to organizations like these," says Vos, "but I also get a lot back. These are interesting, wonderful people to work with, and challenging intellectually."

The commitment to pro bono work is closely tied to Vos' concern with balance. Like many other executives, she believes in making time for both work and family. But she thinks another dimension is often left out.

"I encourage everybody who works here to recognize that there's a third important part of your life, and that's you. It's important that you work on yourself. That could mean exercising every day. It also could mean joining a board or an organization or board outside our industry to expand your mind, meet different people, hear different opinions and bring those back, to enrich your life and your career.


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