Golin Health Leaders Talk Inspiration, Advice and Healthcare Leadership for Women’s History Month

March 15, 2023

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By Alaina DeLeone & Emily Gardner, Golin Health

Women are no strangers to breaking the mold, balancing multiple responsibilities at once, paving the way for their successors and so much more. Women’s History Month is celebrated every March to recognize the contributions and achievements women have made in the past and continue to make in the present. Here, members of Golin Health’s global and U.S. senior leadership team Cori McKeever, Jaimee Reggio, Caroline Noel and Smitha Piedilato share their experiences and insights as leaders in healthcare communication striving to elevate other women’s voices through their practice:

Share a time when you’ve set a goal and not necessarily nailed it; what did you learn and why are those moments opportunities for growth?

The truth is, every day there are goals that I don’t meet, some big, some small. And I remember them: the big ones, like a pitch that didn’t swing our way that I still feel we should have won; to smaller ones, like a conversation with a colleague that I could have handled differently, which may have led to a better outcome. There are always learnings in not nailing it. I try to give myself the same grace that I extend to others – you can’t nail it all the time, the growth lies in understanding why you didn’t and then putting measures in place to not repeat the same mistakes. – Cori McKeever, President, Global Healthcare

What’s the best piece of advice that another female leader has given you when it comes to leadership in a complex and ever-changing industry like healthcare communications? 

Above everything, understand the needs of the patient and let that understanding form the foundation of every decision and action. – Jaimee Reggio, Managing Director, NA Healthcare

It’s fine to not always have the answer! You have all the tools to figure it out. – Caroline Noel, Senior Vice President, Healthcare

The best piece of advice I got was to not try to lead like anyone else, but to introduce and invite people to learn my style. And in the beginning, you may have to explain to people what that is, so they know what to expect. – Smitha Piedilato, Executive Vice President and Creative Director, Healthcare

“You can’t fight the ocean.” I think this was a kind way of telling me to loosen up. But in all seriousness, I have a tendency, as I suspect many leaders do, to try to control everything. Of course, that’s not possible, practical, or frankly good leadership. There is power at times in moving with the current instead of against it, in taking a pragmatic approach, in quietly leading the charge as opposed to being the loudest in the room. I think this applies to all industries and the increasing complexity all leaders face today in health and beyond.  – Cori McKeever, President, Global Healthcare

What historical or current female leader (or understated women in history) do you admire, or has you inspired?

I am continuously inspired by Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo’s former chairman and CEO. She led a male-dominated field, was a champion of sustainability and corporate responsibility before it became mainstream, and in her post-PepsiCo life, she has become a leading voice in the need for companies to support families – and women – to unleash greater economic prosperity. Her message resonates with me and inspires me, not only by what she’s accomplished, but also by her acknowledgements of what her family sacrificed for her to reach her goals.  – Cori McKeever, President, Global Healthcare 

Jacinda Arden has been an inspiring global leader. The way she handled crisis after crisis in NZ and was unafraid to stand up to people is admirable. Even her recent resignation to me is a sign of someone who is self-aware and strong. It takes a lot to know when it’s time to call it quits. – Smitha Piedilato, Executive Vice President and Creative Director, Healthcare

Claudia Jones, a Trinidadian journalist and activist who dedicated her life to the fight against intolerance, inequality, and oppression. She also founded Britain’s first major black newspaper, the West Indian Gazette, creating a platform for her people to be heard. Importantly, Jones is often credited for the first ideas for Notting Hill Carnival in the UK, after organizing the first event in response to violent race attacks and increasing tensions. A firm believer that “a people’s art is the genesis of their freedom,” she utilized the opportunity to uplift the community by celebrating Caribbean culture. Now this is an event that not only brings Londoners together but attracts tourists from across the world. What an inspiring force for change and liberation of Britain’s Black community!  – Caroline Noel, Senior Vice President, Healthcare

I can’t get enough of Glennon Doyle, The New York Times best-selling author and founder of Together Rising. She has bravely led a new discussion that is deeply personal, raw and that helps to break down stigma around health topics like eating disorders, addiction, anxiety and depression, and women’s sexual health. What she has done through the creation of Together Rising to effectively action around providing direct support to the many or the few in their time of need is nothing short of astonishing and so incredibly inspiring. – Jaimee Reggio, Managing Director, NA Healthcare

Share the most creative or innovative healthcare or leadership trend right now that has you inspired. How is this informing your personal or professional goals for the coming year? 

It’s not a new trend but leading with authenticity is certainly the type of leadership style I try to embody. I want to bring my authentic self to work and my interactions with my peers and teams, always. This year, I’m adding resilient and entrepreneurial leadership as a professional goal as well. The dynamic nature of our business, the current challenges in society…the faster you are able to recover from setbacks and identify a strategic path to follow, I think the more successful and happy you’ll be.  – Cori McKeever, President, Global Healthcare  

At the beginning of the pandemic introverts were in the spotlight and empathized with. As things returned to “normal” people cared less about introverts, the way they prefer to work and interact etc. But recently I have seen leaders recognizing that again and recognizing that the best creative thinkers and ideas can come from the quiet listeners, people who prefer to work alone, take time to digest and then share. And I think that kind of inclusivity is the next phase of leadership and I plan to advocate for that more in my role. – Smitha Piedilato, Executive Vice President and Creative Director, Healthcare

What do you believe will be a big obstacle for women’s health this year? As heath communicators, what can be done to support or solve for these issues?  

Access. I mean that in every sense of the word. Access to appropriate care from healthcare providers who will truly listen to women and what they are experiencing. Access to medicines that will improve or save a woman’s life no matter where she lives, her ethnicity, her socioeconomic background. Access to information so women can make informed decisions. As communicators, we can help solve many of these issues by raising awareness to developing programs that will enable better care.  – Cori McKeever, President, Global Healthcare  

Access to safe birth control and abortion services continues to be an issue in this country. As long as those are under attack and considered illegal that will continue to put women’s lives and safety at risk. As communicators we can continue to foster conversation, shed light on the issues and hopefully give women the tools to advocate for change. – Smitha Piedilato, Executive Vice President and Creative Director, Healthcare

The increasing media attention given to the multi-faceted impact of menopause on women is long overdue. My hope is that this increased attention will lead to more women seeking support instead of suffering in silence. But, is the medical community at large prepared to hear them and act? Healthcare communications professionals and women of this age in this industry have a huge opportunity to educate HCPs, lift up the unique voices and stories of women and point them to resources to learn more and advocate for themselves.  – Jaimee Reggio, Managing Director, NA Healthcare

The role of healthcare communications professionals is vital in reiterating the impact women have made and continue to make within the healthcare space and bring light to the health disparities women constantly endure. Reach out to us to learn more.