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Casey McDonald reports on yesterday's Healthcare Businesswoman’s AssociationWoman of the Year award ceremony in New York
Yesterday, the Healthcare Businesswoman’s Association held its Woman of the Year award ceremony in New York. Pharmaceutical Executive profiles the HBA’s WOTY winner every year, and, strikingly, this year’s winner, Denice Torres was even more impressive in person than she appeared in our glossy pages.
I took Kathleen Raven’s (who authored our April issue profile) seat at the awards lunch. Torres, president of Johnson & Johnson's McNeil Consumer Healthcare division, was introduced by her CEO, Alex Gorsky. She had some difficult acts to follow, including previous WOTY winners Annalisa Jenkins, CEO of Dimension Therapeutics and founding partner of Insigniam, Shideh Sedgh Bina.
But perhaps most stirring in the lead up was HBA president’ Wendy White’s speech. She described her daughter who suffers from Nail Patella Syndrome, which makes walking a challenge, and climbing stairs a near impossibility. She describe upon learning the diagnosis, that she began to look at the world in a different light, for example, seeing a building not just as a structure, but as a summation of its flights of stairs. But at the end of her talk she had her daughter climb the stairs to meet her - to a multitude of wet eyes in the audience.
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Finally, Torres spoke. She had the crowd inspired and helpless with laughter at the same time. Her words were refreshing. "My competitive advantage is me” and “be badass, bold….and dream big", she told the crowd; clearly, they agreed.
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Capping off an event already packed with good vibes, the HBA surprised Torres with a personal hero of her own, endurance swimmer Diana Nyad.
Learn more about Torres’ story in our April issue Woman of the Year profile.