This new series showcases WIB members as they describe the navigational tactics of climbing their own professional ladder to success.
This month we are featuring:
Seattle Metro WIB Chapter and President of Health Perspectives Group (HPG, LLC)
Summary: Cheryl Lubbert, one of the founding members of the Seattle Metro WIB Chapter and President of Health Perspectives Group (HPG, LLC) currently runs a group of specialty healthcare communication firms, Health Advocacy Strategies and Patient Health Perspectives. These companies find real people and incorporate their health experiences into branding, marketing and communications.
In this WIB Interview, Cheryl shares her 25 year journey from bench research to biopharmaceutical corporate leadership with companies including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Amgen and Abbott to her marketing services and communication entrepreneurial ventures. Along the way, she found her professional passion for bringing talented people together to innovate and accomplish the seemingly unattainable through the importance of networking, mentoring and being open to new opportunities. Cheryl’s journey has taught her that anything is possible if you can envision it; you just need to have the right attitude and be persistent. Her philosophy is that there is a valuable lesson to be learned from every situation, and her story highlights how the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry provided the opportunity to combine her love of science with her passion for running businesses.
In her spare time, she enjoys helping her husband manage their Asian pear orchard and business on Vashon Island in Washington State.
Tell WIB a little about yourself?
I am President of Health Perspectives Group (HPG, LLC) in Seattle. HPG is the parent company for a family of specialty firms, Health Advocacy Strategies and Patient Health Perspectives, which help healthcare companies find and incorporate real people and their experiences throughout their branding, marketing and communications. Our firms create innovative social media and phone platforms that help connect information-seeking patients privately to patient mentors who have navigated the same diagnosis and treatment journey.
You could say I have seen the life sciences field from many different perspectives -- I have more than 25 years of general management and commercial development experience at Fortune 500 companies, leading blockbuster drug launches and commercialization efforts for successful drugs such as HUMIRA®, Glucophage® and Enbrel® at global companies including Abbott, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Immunex, Inc., and Amgen. I’ve held positions in management, marketing, sales, managed care, corporate training, and bench research, and I served as president of a venture capital backed services company focused on healthcare market research.
What drew you into this field (life science, biotech, entrepreneurship, etc.)?
I guess I have a natural curiosity for nature and all living things. I’ve always enjoyed figuring out how things work and how they impact each other – what that cascade of events looks like. As a result, I find life sciences and biotechnology intellectually stimulating and engaging. I have a degree in microbiology and started out in research, but my career took several turns and I found a way to combine my love of science with my passion for running complex businesses.
If you could have made changes along the journey what would they have been?:
Did this realization result in direct change of professional trajectory, a change in career path?
Two things. First, I would have earned a graduate degree early in my career, which would have enabled me to transition into the commercial aspects of business sooner. But because I had the unique opportunity to be on launch teams, I didn’t want to leave the workforce to pursue an advanced degree. Instead, I got promoted up through the ranks.
The second thing, I would have identified a trusted mentor to help guide me in my career. It is critical to have someone who has “been there” guiding you with personal insight. I was very focused on the work at hand, and I didn’t make this a priority. I was fortunate enough, however, to have two talented women in sales management positions as role models. Through their success I saw what was possible for women in this industry.
What was your biggest ah-ha moment along the journey?
When I was promoted from sales into corporate headquarters at Bristol-Myers Squibb, I realized the full range of opportunities available to me. I was exposed to many different departments and specialties—marketing, training, managed care— none of which I had previously considered on my career path. I arrived at headquarters thinking I would eventually end up in sales management, but instead I took on commercial roles and never looked back.
Yes, it completely changed my trajectory and led me to a second “aha moment.” I realized what I really love to do: bring talented people together to innovate and accomplish the seemingly unattainable.
What have you found to be more important than originally thought?
Networking. I was always so engaged and focused on getting the job done that I didn’t take time to look outside my own world. Outside your comfort zone is where you can learn, integrate new ideas and discover alternate approaches. For me, networking does not come easily, but it is absolutely necessary. Even just a phone call or email to an old colleague or a connection through LinkedIn can be a great way to start the conversation.
Was your path laid out or did you come upon it?
I’ve fallen into every opportunity through a combination of luck and hard work. Someone told me early in my career tofocus on doing a great job, and the next opportunity will come. And that is how it has been for me.
As of today, do you feel successful, what other goals would you like to achieve?
Yes, I feel successful and have impacted many people through my various roles. Even so, there are other things I would like to do and I have many ideas that I would like to pursue.
What is your ideal retirement plan?
I used to think I wanted to retire by age 48, but I love my work and can barely take a two-week vacation. I don’t think I will ever retire in the traditional sense; I equate retirement with resting, and I don’t want to rest. I want to constantly challenge myself to take it to the next level. I will always want to work with smart and talented people, developing new ideas to make a difference. The trick is to work at something that allows you to combine your personal interests with your professional skills.
What do you do in your spare time?
My husband and I own an Asian pear orchard on Vashon Island in Washington State, so I spend my spare time working with him to manage the details of that business. I also spend time mentoring and networking and, of course, supporting our new WIB-Seattle Metro Chapter efforts.
Do you have animals?
Do I ever! We have three Bouvier des Flandres dogs, including a brand new puppy, two cats and several sheep and new lambs. Chickens are next up.
How often do you travel and what are 2 of your favorite places?
I like to travel for both business and pleasure. In fact, a personal goal is to take a vacation every quarter, whether it is local, to Vancouver Island in British Columbia or internationally to a place like Italy.
What is your biggest piece of advice to those that come behind you?
Anything is possible, if you can envision it. You just need to have the right attitude and be persistent. Also, I‘ve come to realize that there is a lesson to be learned from every situation. Often you hear people talk about bosses, companies and jobs as good or bad. Instead of applying these labels, I encourage colleagues and staff to think of them as learning opportunities— to learn what is important, how to lead, and how to shape culture.
How did you become involved with WIB? How has WIB played a role in promoting your personal or professional growth?
I was one of the founding members for the WIB-Seattle Metro chapter. An old colleague and I were at a networking lunch, and during the course of our conversation we agreed that there was a need for an organization that focused on women’s careers in the life sciences. Then we discovered that WIB was founded with this goal in mind. It seemed like a natural opportunity to start the chapter in Seattle.