2023 HBA Annual Conference Roundup

by Staff Writer

In early November, Ogilvy Health sent Julia Weiss, Director, UX & Content Strategy, and Lina Cardenas, Vice President, Account Management, to the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) Annual Conference in Chicago. The conference brought together women from all stages in their careers to learn, connect, and discuss the challenges facing the healthcare industry today.

Julia and Lina shared a brief roundup of their experience at the conference, including what sessions inspired them the most and how they will take back their learnings to their teams at Ogilvy Health. Keep reading to find out more about this year’s HBA Conference.

Lina and Julia were all smiles, kicking off their first day at the conference.

Key Takeaways

Lina: What has always struck me about every HBA event that I’ve attended is the number of women I’ve met across different healthcare specialties, and the resounding focus that all of us have of putting patients at the center of what we do. The theme of this year’s conference was “Powering the Possibilities,” and we talked about techniques to improve the way we approach patient care, both by leveraging new technologies and by continuing to invest in ourselves to make sure we are showing up to work authentically and ready to make an impact.

Julia: Nearly every session—from the keynote honoring the HBA Woman of the Year to the deep dive on AI in healthcare—stressed the importance of why. Not how to do the work, not when it’s the right time, but why we do it in the first place. It’s a great reminder for the business of patient service; our job is to solve real problems with substantive solutions, not offer flash just because the tech is available.

Most Interesting Session

Lina: The Role Self-Advocacy Plays in Propelling Your Career was lovingly referred to as a career group therapy session led by Rochelle Cooper and Nami Jagiani, two seasoned career coaches who shared tools to troubleshoot professional hurdles and tactics on how to invest more in our growth and development. The session focused on teaching us to not just think about what we want to achieve professionally but how to get there. Identifying sponsors and mentors is a theme that was highlighted throughout the conference, but mentorship goes beyond just asking someone for advice. A relationship with a mentor is a two-way street, and Rochelle and Nami pushed us to identify a business problem that will help us take the next step in our careers and ask our mentors what we can do to help solve this problem. Action-oriented conversations with mentors help create focused opportunities for coaching and allow us to continue to build trust with our mentors by delivering value.

Julia: I took the most copious notes during Advancing Health Equity with the Power of Technology, a panel discussion on how technology can improve access to and comprehension of health services. Tracy Picon, global learning officer for health and life sciences at Microsoft, encouraged us to “solve for one and extend for many,” a welcome reminder that even small steps, like translation of patient materials, go a long way towards making the world a healthier and more equitable place.

Most Inspiring Speaker

Lina: Carla Harris, former vice chairman at Morgan Stanley, shared her “eight leadership pearls” during Tuesday afternoon’s closing keynote. Held together by courage, these tips helped propel Carla into a leadership position in a male-dominated industry, and set her apart as a tough and dependable influencer within her field:

  1. Authenticity is your competitive advantage.
  2. Build trust among your peers. Bring in others’ experience and intellect. Network and earn their trust by delivering value.
  3. Create clarity. It is your job as a leader to define success for your team.
  4. Create leaders. Grow your power by giving it away and building up the next generation.
  5. Surround yourself by a diverse team, both in background and ways of thinking.
  6. Teach your teams to innovate and inspire them to continue thinking about how they can improve.
  7. Be inclusive. Solicit other people’s voices to bring everyone together and create shared ownership for a project.
  8. Have a voice. Call the ‘thing’ a ‘thing.’

Carla’s candor and impressive resume captivated the room, and through her session we learned that leadership is our choice. The way we motivate and inspire our teams is different from person to person, and we need to consistently adapt the way we charge forward to make sure our leadership styles evolve to the pressing challenges we face as an industry, but also the challenges we face from within our four walls. My biggest takeaway from her session was that leaders need to show up authentically to work every day and think about the adjectives that they want to be described as to set up the blueprint for how they want to lead their teams.

Christi Shaw – 2023 HBA Woman of the Year

Julia: We were lucky to start our Tuesday with Christi Shaw and Myrtle Potter, the 2023 and 2000 HBA Women of the Year. Unsurprisingly, both women left a lasting impression. Some nuggets of wisdom that I’ll take with me on my journey:

  • “Never hire in your own image.” A critical reminder to welcome diverse backgrounds and perspectives into our teams. It’s tempting to recommend candidates who work and act like we do, but the best, most thoughtful outputs come from a multidimensional team.
  • “Remember that you don’t have to do something all the time.” Like many on the agency side, Lina and I are doers. What’s next? What’s the game plan? Let’s get started! Christi and Myrtle agreed that they’d begun their careers in the same mindset. It took personal health crises for both to admit that it was necessary—and, in fact, helpful—to slow down and take a more intentional approach to the work we do. “Take your time,” they encouraged. “Reflect on the right way to proceed. Don’t solve the problem just to solve it.” It’s such a helpful reminder, particularly in the era of packed calendars and frenzied virtual work, that the world won’t burn down if we take an extra minute (or ten) to think.

What We’ll Leverage in Our Work

Lina: It’s so easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day client swirl and only focus on the tasks that are in front of us. This conference was a great opportunity to take a step back and look at the big picture of what we are doing and push ourselves to continue to ask ourselves and our clients “why?” Our closing keynote speaker, Jennifer Kenny, encouraged us to look at the way we lead. Most of us tend to hone in on Focused Action, which translates to tactical execution and delivery of results. But on the opposite end of that spectrum there’s Interconnected Perception, which encourages us to take a step back to anticipate the potential results of our actions and how they impact our environment. In a world of “go, go, go,” taking a beat to gut-check our actions and their impact makes the extra difference.

Julia: In my role on the Experience & Innovation team, I’m lucky to already be having in-depth conversations about AI and other technology solutions. Ogilvy Health has done some cutting-edge work for our clients in this space, including custom disease visualizers for conferences and the first-of-its kind gen-AI avatar chatbot on a branded site! It’s easy to get caught up in the potential of innovation—and, unfortunately, even easier to get carried away. HBA speakers reinforced the importance of being audience- and outcome-focused in our brainstorming. If it’s not a response to a true community need, and if it isn’t driving a specific outcome at a not-otherwise-achievable scale, tech isn’t the right investment. Again: “what’s our why?” My colleagues and clients will hear that from me a lot over the coming months.

Lina and Julia soaking up all the HBA Conference has to offer.

And finally: Mike Huckman, global practice leader in executive communications at Real Chemistry, ended his keynote interview with the following questions (lovingly adapted from James Lipton of Inside the Actor’s Studio). It would only be right for us to do the same.

  1. What is your favorite word?
    Lina: “Onward”
    Julia: “Approved”
  1. What is your least favorite word?
    Lina: “Can’t”
    Julia: “Hold” (as in, “hold on that”)
  1. Professionally speaking, what turns you on?
    Lina: New challenges with tight timelines.
    Julia: Solving complex problems with a passionate group—ideally on a whiteboard.
  1. Professionally speaking, what turns you off?
    Lina: Swirl and indecisiveness.
    Julia: Spin.
  1. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
    Lina: Paramedic.
    Julia: Child or corporate psychologist. I imagine both require similar skill sets.
  1. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear when you arrive at the pearly gates?
    Lina: “You made the right choices, now it’s time to relax.”
    Julia: “You did more than enough. Iced coffee this way.”

To read more thought leadership from Ogilvy Health, click HERE.