Spotlighting HerStory: Discussions With Women in Distribution

March 29, 2022

As March comes to a close, HDA is rounding out Women’s History Month celebrations by sharing perspectives from some of the incredible women making a difference within the distribution sector and the larger healthcare ecosystem. Interviews were conducted in conjunction with the recent Distribution Management Conference and other forums in support of HDA’s Faces of the Supply Chain video series, a new initiative of the Health Delivered campaign.

Below are some of the highlights of these conversations, with corresponding video clips to access the full responses.

Advocating for Diversity

Amid ongoing conversations about increasing diversity, equity and inclusion in the healthcare distribution supply chain, the women interviewed had valuable insights into the benefits of employing diverse thought and experiences — and the responsibility they feel to impact this movement.

Speaking about charting a path for women in the supply chain, Heather Zenk, President, Distribution Services and Supply Chain Operations at AmerisourceBergen said, “I take it pretty seriously that [the] pharmaceutical supply chain is still a very male-dominated supply chain.” However, Zenk, who was recently honored with HDA’s Distribution Management Award for Industry Leadership, feels optimistic about the progress that has been made. She shared, “[T]here are days [the responsibility to chart a path for other women] weighs heavy and there’s other days where it’s the easiest job ever ...” Click here to watch her full response.

Ammie McAsey, SVP, Customer Distribution Experience for McKesson U.S. Pharmaceutical observed, “It's been great to see women join the supply chain and distribution environment, but it takes all of us, and it takes all of our diverse perspectives and thoughts to really accelerate what's happening … the fun that I have had is I've been able to build diverse teams ...” Click here to watch her full response.

The Importance of Role Models

Many leaders have aspired to reach their position in part due to an influential figure in their lives. We asked the interviewees to reflect on the individuals who helped shape their career goals.

For example, Riya Cao, CEO of LSPediA shared, “The person who sparked my career aspirations, her name is Pamela Lopker … I just graduated from college and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, what my passion was … And then one day, I went to this conference and I saw a woman on stage and she was giving a speech to a lot of older men and prestigious men in the audience ...” Click here to watch her full response.

Nicolette Louissaint, SVP of Policy and Strategic Planning, explained, “One of my mentors from college who recently passed away, Dr. Gloria Hill, was the creator of one of the few spaces at Carnegie Mellon that since the 70s was designed for students of color ...” Click here to watch her full response.

Speaking to the Next Generation

Many of our interviewees have had unique careers within the healthcare distribution supply chain. This experience has provided a wealth of knowledge and led to the development of actionable advice that they aim to impart on the next generation of young professionals, especially women.

Rena Goins, Executive Director Global Trade, GPO & Distribution for Regeneron, encourages the next cohort to, “Ask, just ask. Ask about learning, ask about special projects, ask about travel, ask about conferences like the DMC … Because the more diversity of experience you can get ...” Click here to watch her full response.

Julie Malone, Regulatory Affairs Manager at Value Drug Company, highlighted, “It’s a very intense environment in this particular industry, and you have to have balance … the pace can be incredible at times, at certain times during the year, and to remember to have some fun.” Click here to watch her full response.

Motivating Factors for a Career in Healthcare Distribution

The past two years have provided an exceptionally challenging environment for many industries, but the outstanding leaders of our member companies have persevered. Below, a few interviewees share what keeps them inspired at their jobs each day.

Stacey Waweru, Vice President Strategic Sourcing for Cardinal Health, told us about a time when, “I was holding my daughter and she looked at the Zoom screen with all the faces of my team and was pointing out [each person, saying,] ‘And that’s a woman, and that’s a girl, she’s a strong girl, she’s a strong girl, she’s a strong girl, he’s a boy, she is a strong girl, she’s a strong girl’ … And, to me, that’s such a motivating factor ...” Click here to watch her full response.

Amarilis Goitia, Executive VP and General Manager of Drugueria Betances, emphasized, “What we do is really important for the people. Health is the most important thing I think, ...” Click here to watch her full response.

Spotlighting Voices in Distribution

HDA is proud to amplify the voices of women in the industry this Women’s History Month and every day. As an organization, we are committed to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion at all levels of the pharmaceutical supply chain and hope to inspire future generations with stories like these. Stay tuned to hear more industry voices as our Faces series gets underway.