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Servant Leadership at Its Finest: A Q&A With Life Science Leader, Liz Paulson

The Voice of the Healthcare Business

The Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) recognized Liz Paulson, LexisNexis® Risk Solutions Life Science Leader, with its prestigious STAR Award at its Woman of the Year luncheon on May 16, 2023. The HBA awards its annual Strategic Transformation Achievement Recognition (STAR) to a volunteer committed to advance and transform the organization while serving as a mentor and leader to others.

As impressive as Liz Paulson’s achievements are, how she learned she won the award is quite the story. Her initial reaction shows her genuine humility about personal recognitions like this.

Q: Where were you and what was your reaction when you found out you won the STAR award?
A: So, I had COVID. One of the committee members said she really needed to talk to me and of course I jumped on a call because that is what we do in the HBA. There were all these people in the meeting, which surprised me, and they asked me what I was doing on May 16 and my first response was asking what they needed me to help with.

They told me I was going to receive the STAR Award, and my reaction was, ‘What do you mean?’ They laughed. The next thing I said was, ‘I haven’t done enough’ to deserve the award. It was just absolute surprise and shock.

The people who have received that award ahead of me are just amazing, and so are all the things that they’ve done. So, I mean it when I say I was surprised, humbled and I have big shoes to fill.

Q: When did you begin your healthcare career journey?
A: I really got excited about psychology in college. After I graduated, I wanted to actually do something in my major related to research. I moved to Boston, which is a mecca for healthcare. I started at an entry level job working with people with mental health needs. It was an intense job, but I really enjoyed it.

Then I realized I was at a crossroads. Did I want to go down an academic path or do something else? I decided to pursue work in pharmaceuticals next so I could help more than one individual at a time and have a greater impact.

I interacted directly with several psychiatrists as a pharmaceutical rep. Additionally, I worked as part of an innovative treatment team division that provided support to the healthcare teams which built on my previous experience working with patients, and it was very rewarding.

At the same time, I didn’t know how much further I wanted to go in the pharmaceutical industry. About that time my mentor reached out to say he found a job for me that was a blend of my interests in research, public health, data, and improving patient outcomes in an area that was new to me, health economics and outcomes research (HEOR). And I’ve been working in healthcare data outcomes ever since including my current role at LexisNexis® Risk Solutions.

Q: What do you miss most about working with patients?
A: When you work in healthcare and the life sciences industry data, you can get further away from direct patient care. It’s harder to stay connected to individuals and be able to celebrate their triumphs.

At the end of the day, everyone working in life sciences is trying to make patients’ lives better. It’s important to keep this always at the forefront of your mind and that sense of why you’re doing what you do. You are not only helping your customer but so many people you will never know.

For me, I want to make sure I’m sharing the best possible real-world data (RWD) so that the researchers can use the data to determine the best interventions to achieve the best possible outcomes for patients. I want to be part of that solution and high-quality data is a big piece of that puzzle, and my current role empowers me to do just this.

Q: What is the greatest untapped potential in healthcare and life sciences as you see it? What are some of the biggest challenges we’re helping our customers solve?
A: It’s the continuous challenges of having so much data out there and the many ways data can be used. The questions are: In what ways can we bring the data together to solve these big challenges that we’re seeing in healthcare? How can we break down silos between stakeholders?

As a healthcare data organization, we’re sitting perfectly in the center of it all. We work with various data companies across the healthcare ecosystem and we’re working to connect all these disparate sources to fill in the gaps and work with organizations to create a complete patient record with unmatched precision.

Q: So it’s about taking the sheer volume of data out there, making it meaningful and connecting it in a way that makes a difference in patients’ lives?
A: Yes. It’s about how to connect electronic health records (EHR), pharmacy and medical records with genetic testing over here and labs over there. We look for ways we can bring all of that together and make it make it sing.

We also look at the bigger picture. We need to capture everyone, not just people who have the best access to healthcare. For others, what are their challenges, what kind of support do they have or don’t have, what kind of resources do they need? We must look at patients more holistically, and the data that we’re bringing together now does that.

Q: What is your advice for someone looking to transition to the healthcare life sciences world? What would you tell them?
A: It’s an exciting career — you will never be bored. There’s always the next challenge, there’s always something to learn, and it’s all applicable because we all are part of the healthcare system. In life sciences you have pharmaceutical, device, and diagnostic companies. There are so many different aspects. Then you start understanding how they all fit into that healthcare ecosystem, and to me that’s fascinating. It’s an ongoing journey of learning. And as a life-long learner, I love that.

Q: What does it take to be a successful leader? Talk a little bit about being a leader at LexisNexis Risk Solutions and being a leader with HBA. How they are the same or different?
A: Well, the HBA is a volunteer-based organization, so that’s a little bit different than my day job. The skills that I honed while working at the HBA have served me well — accountability, collaboration, and working with a shared purpose, vision and direction. There’s a lot that goes into being an effective leader. I see my leadership at HBA and LexisNexis Risk Solutions similarly in that I work to empower people and teams to understand their contributions to the mission and to recognize and celebrate their individual success all while constantly learning new skills to take advantage of their or the company’s next opportunity.

Q: How did you get involved with the HBA and what would your advice be for others looking to get involved?
A: I had a friend who said, ‘I just went to this amazing event with an amazing group of women who are all just really trying to support each other. They talk about real things: work-life balance, finding a mentor, and getting to the next level.’

So, I went to an HBA event, and I found my people. It’s been an amazing experience for me and one that is not unique. There are many, many women who have similar stories and whose careers have benefited greatly from getting involved with the HBA. My advice is get involved and volunteer it is one the best career decisions I have ever made.

Q: We should talk about the STAR award honoring and recognizing how you strategically transformed the HBA in a meaningful way. What are you most proud of?
A: This is where it’s hard for me. I am not a ‘I did this, and I did that’ kind of person. But I love to coach and mentor people. I love to watch and support them as they build confidence just as others have done for me. That is an amazing gift that I have received through the organization, and I want to empower as many future leaders as I possibly can through the HBA.

As far as transforming the organization, we’ve gone through an evolution of growth, going from a network of U.S.-based chapters to a regional structure and now with the creation of operating boards across the globe. But it wasn’t just me – I was part of a whole global team.

Q: What is a destination you can’t wait to visit one day?
A: New Zealand. I would love to go this summer while the National Women’s Soccer team is playing.

Q: What is one adjective to describe yourself? Outgoing? Determined? Motivated?
A: Those are fine, but I would say ‘modest.’

Discover more about how LexisNexis Risk Solutions supports life sciences organizations.

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And if you’re interested in becoming involved in the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA), click here.

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