Insights (Essays)

Insights (Essays) October 2018

Healthcare Happy Hour: Perspectives on Career Advancement for Emerging Health Leaders

Brooke Horrobin


On Wednesday, September 12, 2018 young healthcare professionals had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion with prominent Canadian healthcare professionals. 

Lead by Melicent Lavers-Sailly, co-chair of Emerging Health Leaders (EHL) Toronto and leader of the Communications and Corporate Marketing team at Medtronic Canada, the discussion allowed participants to share how they’ve achieved success in their careers. The panelists included: Pamela Winsor, CMO, Medtronic Canada; Ella Korets-Smith, CEO, TO Health!; and Saurabh Popat, CIO, Health Innovation Rx 

Questions centered around becoming a leader in your career, explaining your career journey, getting a mentor, and how to participate in coaching sessions sparked the discussion with the three panelists.

When asked what she does as a leader in her career, Pamela spoke to an example of a candy jar she keeps on her desk to encourage people at her office to come in and have a conversation. A good boss has an open door policy, and is willing to get to know their employees by engaging with them.

Saurabh gave a similar response, saying “one of the things I learned early on is to walk around and engage with colleagues, talk about the latest in the news. I just try to engage people at a human level, and from there understand how to interact with them.” 

Ella’s response indicated that to be a leader you must get people on the same page as you by discussing opinions and making sure to thank them for their contributions. 

The next question asked the panelists to explain their career journey. 

Ella described her journey as being very non-linear, saying “strategy is like sitting by a closed door being ready to run through it, and that is how my career has been.” Ella’s experience has been very diverse, from obtaining a degree in Medical Genetics from UofT, to writing her LSAT, pursuing an MBA, and working in both Ottawa and Toronto. She now works on her own consultant practice, and tries to create cohesion through TO Health! 

When asked this question, Saurabh agreed that his journey had been non-linear as well. “Something that’s been important is engaging with the right people,” he said, when discussing what he attributed to his success.  He mentioned that the two main factors that have been most important throughout his career journey have been timing and people. After doing a masters degree in Health Administration in Ottawa, Saurabh tried his hand in multiple roles, working at Eli Lily, GSK, and for the government in more than one department. He now works as the CIO for Health Innovation Rx. 

Pam’s journey started a bit differently, as she chose to start out working as a nurse in emerg while her kids were young. Upon deciding she wanted to do something else in healthcare, she got a part-time job in pharma. Fast forward three years and she worked to complete an MBA in Halifax. She spent time in Halifax, Montreal and Toronto, later ending up back in Toronto. “I encourage you when you get that runway, just go for it. Be scared,” was her advice to the young healthcare professionals in the audience. 

Going beyond their own careers, the three panelists gave their take on mentorship and the importance of what that can do for someone in a healthcare career.

“Finding the 1 or 2 people that for whatever reason have the desire to help you, is absolutely the thing to do,” said Ella.  She stressed that mentorship is important for both the mentor and mentee. Both parties need to be getting something out of it in order for it to be successful.

Saurabh had a similar take on it, saying that networking and engaging with people at both higher and lateral levels is of utmost importance. “Engage and maintain those networks. You can reach out to people, maintaining it is hard.” He then stressed the importance of asking great questions and coming prepared in order to get the most out of a mentorship opportunity.

Pamela expressed that she viewed mentorship more as a coaching opportunity. “Coaching is about self-discovery, understanding who you are, and everything you need to operate in this world is inside of you. What coaches do is harness that capability,” she said. “Look at people’s values and passions, which is the key to everything you do in life.”

Overall, the three panelists had lots to offer the young professionals in the room in terms of advice for becoming successful in their careers and how to achieve what they’re looking for. Discussions like these will continue to shape the future of healthcare in Canada and bring together the top talent in the industry to stay on top of innovation in a landscape that is constantly changing.

About the Author(s)

Brooke Horrobin is the Communications Co-Lead, Emerging Health Leaders Toronto


The event was hosted by The Emerging Health Leaders (EHL) Toronto chapter. EHL is a national non-profit organization in Canada that brings healthcare professionals from all different backgrounds together to discuss ideas and promote growth and prosperity in the industry. They support the development of emerging health leaders through networking, educational events, and mentorship. The event was sponsored by Gevity. Events put on by EHL are aimed at connecting these young professionals and allowing them the opportunity to network and receive career advice from successful people in their field.


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