How Women Leaders Will Drive Innovation in the Healthcare Sector

17-19 September 2018, at IESE Business School, Barcelona

The WE Health project closed its 2018 educational offering with a capacity building training targeted at women in leadership positions in the healthcare sector. It was the first gathering of such talented female healthcare leaders from all over Europe and was a great opportunity to connect and exchange experiences among peers facing the same challenges and sharing similar experiences. 38 women from different European countries (Portugal, UK, Sweden, Germany, Spain, France, Romania…) working in different institutions (pharma companies, universities, research labs, entrepreneurs, consultants) joined on a 3-day workshop hosted at IESE Business School on Sept 17-19.

During the workshop, three hard and soft challenges of women leading healthcare innovation were addressed:

  • How to make innovation happen within an organisation?
  • How to develop the leadership strength to drive change?
  • How to persuade others through effective communication?

For this, WE Health invited several experts in innovation strategy, communication and leadership to share their advice.
During the three days, participants exchanged experiences and ideas on the different types of tools to support an organisation’s innovation strategy, such as open innovation and different corporate venturing mechanisms. The discussion was orchestrated by Prof. Julia Prats, the Head of the Entrepreneurship Department at IESE Business School.

Participants also learned new insights on how to empower their own leadership strengths by practicing a model for feedback and personal development promoted by Prof. Anneloes Raes:  The Core Quality Model. The model builds the basis to identify and put into practice everyone’s positive characteristics and to understand how to deal with our ‘allergies’ and discover their positive qualities.

WE Health also welcomed  the collaboration of Olivia Schofield, who has extensive experience in the television sector, and is now a coach for executive communication. Her sessions awakened even the most slumbering souls and motivated participants to step out of the comfort zone. Olivia reminded us of the power of self-belief, as the most important stone in building any successful career. The impact of Olivia’s sessions was tangible during the impressive final pitches given by the participants.

WE Health enriched the programme by inviting external speakers to get inspiration from and to connect. With Marta Gaia Zanchi we reflected on the importance of having more women-led innovation and other existing initiatives that foster women in entrepreneurship and leadership positions. Sylvie Bové, the former CEO of EIT Health, shared with us her thoughts on positive leadership for healthy organisations and how organisations can support women leaders in our complex and fast-paced times.

To summarize, here are our three main takeaways from the event: 

  1. Believe in yourself! There is no need to copy classical masculine patterns of leadership, women can build their own leadership styles.
  2. Build a career that makes you feel valued and motivated.
  3. Find your own space and pace to network and connect with people.

The programme concluded with a group discussion that generated new ideas to advance the WE Health program and its vision. We discussed the importance of involving men in the gender parity challenge and the best ways on how to do it, as well as the idea of building new digital tools to reach out to more women and the need to consolidate the peer-to-peer mentoring among the WE Health alumnae.

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