Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association Launches in Canada, Thanks to Mallinckrodt Employee

Mallinckrodt has forged a strong relationship with the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) over the years, both at a corporate level and through various chapters where individual employees’ contribution has supported the association’s work to advance and connect women across the healthcare industry.

Now, one of Mallinckrodt’s employees is helping HBA launch its presence in a new country, marking the first time that HBA will have a footprint outside of the U.S. and Europe. Danielle Portnik, a Product Manager at Mallinckrodt, was recently named the General Manager (GM) of the Board of Directors for a new HBA affiliate in Toronto.

At Mallinckrodt, Danielle manages the brand strategy and marketing for one of its products. In her new role with HBA, she is charged with leading the board’s efforts to establish Toronto as a formal HBA chapter and build its membership. Her career experiences may have prepared her for this opportunity, but her willingness to take on the extra responsibilities of this role have everything to do with continued professional and personal development. There are several valuable lessons that everyone can take away from her story:

Broaden Your Network

“I believe that the perspective you need is often the one you don’t have,” said Danielle. “Mallinckrodt’s Toronto office may be small, but the region is a major market for the pharmaceutical industry. Getting involved in HBA, especially in a startup, puts me in a position of constant networking. It gives me access to a large, diverse group of peers – across industry, research and academia – that I can use to bounce around ideas.”

Make the Ask

Since HBA wasn’t in Canada, joining the organization wouldn’t give Danielle the local networking opportunities that she wanted. She asked HBA’s national headquarters if there were plans to start a chapter in Toronto. The timing was right, as similar questions had recently surfaced from five other women in the region. HBA connected Danielle to these women, and they formed a working group to explore the viability of starting a chapter. The working group surveyed interest among their personal network of contacts, and received positive responses from 60 people within two weeks.

 Accept the Challenge

Once the initial groundwork was completed, HBA asked all of the women in the working group to apply for board positions to lead the newly formed entity. Danielle applied to be the director of marketing, since it tied most directly to her professional experience. The question she received back was “Why didn’t you apply to be general manager of the board?”

HBA leadership was quick to point out how much work she was already doing to lead the group, including facilitating conversations, taking meeting minutes and operationalizing ideas.

“The real kick was hearing that all of the other women – who had more industry experience than me – acknowledged my leadership and believed I should be the GM,” said Danielle. “I realized I was defaulting to my comfort zone and told myself to take the leap. It’s a great way for me to fine-tune my leadership and people management skills. You never know where it will lead.”