Navigating Career Transitions: The Transformative Impact of Mentorship and Resilience in Shaping Inclusive Workplace Cultures

Navigating Career Transitions: The Transformative Impact of Mentorship and Resilience in Shaping Inclusive Workplace Cultures

We sat down with Mindy, one of our alumnae from the North America 2023 alumnus, to delve into her inspiring journey. Mindy’s experience with the WomenLift Health Leadership program has not only propelled her career growth, but also cultivated her into a passionate advocate for women’s leadership. She highlights the transformative impact of mentorship and resilience in navigating career transitions and shaping inclusive workplace cultures.

Congratulations, Mindy! Could you share more details about your new position?

As the Vice President of Partnerships and Impact at Panther Life Sciences, a biotech company, I am thrilled to embark on this new role that is a great fit for my career trajectory. My previous experience at the Clinton Health Access Initiative provided invaluable insights into delivering life-saving products to women and girls in low- and middle-income countries. In that capacity, I collaborated extensively with pharmaceutical and biotech companies to strategize the global market accessibility of such products. Now, in my current role, I am excited to transition to the other side of this equation, leveraging my expertise to forge impactful collaborations. 

How did the WomenLift Health Leadership Journey influence your decision to explore new opportunities, and how did it contribute to your success in securing this exciting new role as VP of Partnerships and Impact at Panther Life Sciences?

When I embarked on the WomenLift Health Leadership Journey, I viewed it as an opportunity to pause and reflect on my career trajectory thus far and contemplate my hopes for the future. It provided me with a structured platform to assess my strengths, revisit my accomplishments, and envision how I could make a broader impact in my field. The journey allowed me to engage in strategic thinking on how I can have a bigger impact with my work. The process of reflection and self-assessment motivated me to seek out new opportunities that aligned with my professional goals and aspirations. Ultimately, this journey played a pivotal role in my accepting the position of Vice President of Partnerships and Impact at Panther Life Sciences. 

In the context of your leadership journey with WomenLift Health, could you share a specific instance or lesson that you applied during your job search or in the interview process for your new role? How did these experiences shape your approach to professional opportunities?

During my leadership journey with WomenLift Health, I recall a valuable analogy shared by our facilitator, Jessica, during one of our Immersion sessions. She likened starting a job to being a person in a room: initially, you may feel really small, scared, and overwhelmed; but as you gain confidence and expertise, you begin to fill up the space in that room. And as you grow in your role, in your career, and in your company, you may find a point when there is no more room to grow. You’ve filled up the entire room. And that’s the indicator that it’s time to go to a new room. This analogy was an important revelation in helping me recognize when it was time to seek new opportunities. It served as a guiding principle during my job search and interview process, shaping my approach to professional growth and prompting me to actively seek environments where I could continue to expand my skills and make a meaningful impact.  

Ultimately, this lesson empowered me to confidently pursue and secure my new role, knowing that it represented a new room where I can continue to grow and thrive. 

My Leadership Project focused on exploring new technology with Panther Life Sciences, and it was serendipitous that this led to a new role for me.

Watch Mindy’s Leadership project here:

Mentorship often plays a pivotal role in career development. Were there specific mentors or lessons from the leadership journey that you believe were instrumental in preparing you for the challenges and opportunities presented by Panther Life Sciences?

The mentorship and coaching sessions offered during my leadership journey were really important in preparing me for the transition to Panther Life Sciences. These sessions provided a structured platform for reflection, allowing me to deeply contemplate my career aspirations and the type of role I envisioned for myself. Through various exercises during the Leadership Journey, I gained insights into my leadership style, strengths, and areas for growth. My coach guided me in prioritizing my values and identifying non-negotiable aspects of a new role. Having that one-on-one coaching time not only helped me clarify my professional goals but also equipped me with the confidence and strategic mindset needed to navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by my new role. The accountability and structure provided by these coaching sessions were instrumental in shaping my career development and growth trajectory. 

Leaving a long-standing position at CHAI is a significant decision. How did the support and insights gained through mentors, coaches and peers contribute to your confidence in navigating this transition, especially considering your extensive experience with CHAI?

Transitioning from my long-standing role at CHAI was an extremely difficult decision for me, given my deep appreciation for the organization and the meaningful relationships I had cultivated there. I had invested and poured so much of myself into my work, and walking away from that was not easy at all. The decision to embark on a new journey, particularly with an early-stage company was not easy, considering the inherent risks involved. However, the unwavering support from my mentors, coaches, and cohort, especially the women in my mentoring group, played a pivotal role in bolstering my confidence throughout this transition. Having the opportunity to engage with my peers, bounce ideas off one another, and delve into the nuances of my decision-making process provided me with a chance to truly reflect. Their encouragement ultimately empowered me to take this risk—to embrace this new chapter.

How do you plan to leverage your position to continue supporting and mentoring women in leadership, both within Panther Life Sciences and possibly through external initiatives, building on the foundation laid during your WomenLift Health Leadership Journey experience?

Mentorship is something that is near and dear to my heart. I am passionate about supporting and developing individuals in their career journeys. Now, as part of an early-stage company, I have a unique opportunity to shape the organization’s culture and values as it evolves. I am being very intentional about integrating the invaluable lessons from my previous job experiences and the transformative insights gained through the WomenLift Health Leadership Journey. Rather than navigating existing systems, I have the privilege and opportunity to proactively shape a supportive culture and environment that champions the advancement of women in leadership roles. 

What final words of advice would you share with other women leaders who may be considering similar leaps in their careers or pursuing leadership roles?

My advice is simple: take a risk. Don’t be afraid to step out into the unknown, even if it feels uncomfortable or challenging. Growth occurs when we push ourselves beyond our comfort zones and embrace new experiences. Don’t shy away from roles that stretch you as a person and a leader; instead, be open to where the possibilities may take you. Maybe it will work out, maybe it won’t. While there’s no guarantee of success, it’s important to have the courage to take risks and explore new opportunities. 

Why take these risks? Because personal growth requires expanding your perspective and influence. By venturing into unfamiliar territory, you’ll encounter different people and build a diverse range of experiences that enrich your professional journey. When that inner voice urges you to take a leap of faith or make a change, listen to it. Trust in your instincts and be open to the transformative power of embracing new challenges.