Breakthroughs from Healthcare Outliers

Terry Stone | March 9, 2021

Health Evolution and Oliver Wyman conducted new research on what leadership qualities female leaders working in male-dominated industries have in common. Based on interviews with nine female leaders who’ve defied the odds to break through into the leadership ranks, our research identifies leaders’ keys to success and outlines what lessons organizations can learn from their experiences. Read the full report here: Breakthroughs from Healthcare Outliers.

As part of Oliver Wyman and Health Evolution’s ongoing Women in Healthcare Leadership series, we wanted to learn more about what female leaders have in common. Consider, for example, the healthcare industry. Here, 80 percent of healthcare consumers are female. But this demographic isn’t reflected in leadership. For example, only 30 percent of healthcare’s C-suite is female. At healthcare’s top ranks, this number shrinks down even more: 13 percent of healthcare CEOs are female and only one in three people in the Profit and Loss (P&L) C-suite are female.

In an effort to try and close this gap so healthcare consumers’ voices are better reflected by the industry decision makers’ voices, Oliver Wyman and Health Evolution sat down with nine female leaders from organizations like health plans, pharmaceutical companies, and more to better understand their diverse industry perspectives, rich experiences, and breakthrough leadership styles.

Although our findings clearly don’t represent traits all female leaders who’ve defied the C-suite odds have in common, our team realized upon conducting our research, these women’s clear commonalities include strategically embracing the unknown, remaining focused on unified values and visions, and successfully translating their ideas clearly to ultimately empower others along the way.

Our research also examines how our interviewees perceive things like sponsorships, mentors, networking, and the like regarding how factors such as these have shaped their career decisions and greater professional paths toward progress.
We hope our research inspires other leaders — from those at the top, those on their way to the top, and those beginning to tap into their true potential — to drive the future of an industry in transformation in their own ways.

Some Key Findings

  • It interests our interviewees greatly when strategies align across different lines of business and they must pull different levers, all for one greater purpose.
  • Interviewees emphasized their keen innate ability to anticipate and respond to healthcare’s rapid pace of change.
  • When we sought to learn more about what each woman spent most of her workday doing, we found enormous fortitude, resolve, and understanding that was in no way “quiet” or meek but rather was clear, directive, and enabling.
  • These women call themselves empowering leaders (but not empowering for the sake of it). They hold people accountable but are transparent in both their expectations and the decision-making process.

Memorable Moments from our Research
Here are a few highlights regarding what we learned from our interviewees:

“I am naturally curious (some might say excessively so) and constantly looking to learn.”
Kim Keck, President and CEO, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association; Health Evolution Leadership Committee

“Opportunities stem from leaders who prefer surrounding themselves with people who challenge them.”
Ramona Sequiera, President, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, U.S.A., Inc.; Health Evolution Leadership Committee

“”Doing the work isn’t enough. Sponsors helped me realize you must sell yourself, your work, and your vision.”
Mandy Cohen, MD, Secretary, North Carolina, HHS; Health Evolution Leadership Committee

Read our full research here: Breakthroughs from Healthcare Outliers.

About the Author

Terry Stone, Managing Partner, Health and Life Sciences, and Global Chair for Inclusion and Diversity, Oliver Wyman

Terry has extensive experience in the healthcare industry, including devising growth strategies, improving the cost and quality of healthcare services, establishing innovative partnerships across players in the healthcare sector, developing ACOs and other value-based solutions, and redesigning organizations to support their strategic transformations.

Prior to joining the Health and Life Sciences practice, Terry was a Partner in OIiver Wyman’s Financial Services Practice. Drawing on her cross-industry expertise, she co-developed IC on opportunities in healthcare for traditional financial services companies, which was published in the article "Healthcare and Financial Services."

Terry has worked at Dell Computer, in the publishing industry, and at a small B2B software start-up. She earned a BA in Chemistry from The College of the Holy Cross and an MBA from the Kenan-Flagler School of Business at The University of North Carolina.

When not working on solving the challenges in Healthcare, Terry can be found indulging her creative and domestic side. She has done a few interior design projects, renovates houses, and has won an award for her urban garden landscape.