HBA's Record Turnout WOTY Event Honors Industry's Brightest Stars

Britta Herlitz
President Herlitz HealthCare: A Communications Co., Editor, HBA Bulletin

2001 WOTY LuncheonMay 3, 2001, New York Hilton - New York, NY: Location wasn't the only new thing about HBA's 2001 "Woman of the Year" (WOTY) event which met for the first time at the New York Hilton in Manhattan to accommodate a significant increase in the number of attendees. Indeed, this year's WOTY luncheon honoring Woman of the Year Carrie S. Cox, Executive Vice President and President of Global Prescription Business, Pharmacia Corporation, drew a record number of more than 1700 professionals from the biopharmaceutical industry—up more than 30% from last year. Other changes that marked WOTY as a "can't-miss" event included a streamlined registration process and additional space (both of which enhanced the pre-luncheon networking time, an expanded dais of honorees) and the presence of corporate members from across the country. "Companies are now flying people in to attend this event," said HBA President Teri P. Cox, Senior Managing Partner, Cox Communications Partners (Lawrenceville, NJ).

After 45 minutes of meeting, greeting and eating, attendees were called into the Grand Ballroom and directed to their tables. Within moments of everyone being seated, the lights dimmed and multiple movie screens began playing the inspirational opening video that has now become a hallmark of this luncheon. The video, developed this year by Osprey Communications, Inc. (Greenwich, CT), featured sound bytes from past and present HBA honorees and Board members each of whom offered their unique words of encouragement and praise for the HBA's commitment to the advancement of women in the healthcare industry. Following this exceptional production, the lights were raised and the podium became the new focal point.

Message from the Podium

Teri Cox opened with a high-energy welcome and an effective call for membership: "There are only two kinds of people in the audience today—those who are members of the HBA and those who should be," she said. "The extraordinary growth of the HBA and this event provides tangible evidence that we are getting closer to our goal of becoming a prominent national voice for the advancement of women in healthcare," she added. After a special note of thanks to the WOTY committee members who made the event possible, she introduced William C. Sheldon, President of Eisai, Inc. (Teaneck, NJ) and HBA Advisory Board Member, as the first recipient of HBA's new "Honorable Mentor" award. This unique honor recognizes a man or woman who has had a long-term commitment to the advancement of women in the healthcare industry, personal dedication to service as a mentor and who has been an active mentor to the HBA. Next, each of this year's 34 Rising Stars and the 2001 Star Volunteer was recognized. This was followed by a delicious lunch marked by a great deal of "table hopping" and lots of high-energy conversations. Afterwards, the crowd offered a standing ovation to this year's WOTY honoree, Carrie S. Cox.

Words of Strength and Substance

In her acceptance speech, Ms. Cox revealed herself to be more than a successful and respected professional. Indeed, as she talked proudly of her parents, her husband and her children—a few times even straining to speak through the emotion—it became clear that at the heart of her professional strength is the substance that only a loving family can provide.

"My family is my joy and my source of energy and renewal and certainly the most important thing in my life," Carrie Cox told the audience, adding a special note of thanks to Fred Hassan (CEO, Pharmacia Corporation) whose management style is wholly supportive of work-life balance. "This [award] is very much a recognition of the broad and deep team of extraordinary people at Pharmacia who have been a key part of any success I have achieved in recent years," she stated.

Her closing words of advice for personal and professional success? "Maintain a positive attitude; be curious/don't be afraid to ask why; focus on the job you're in; take responsibility for your own career; go global early but stay close to the US if you started there or get close if you didn't; learn to be decisive; and lastly, balance your work and career with a healthy and robust personal life."