One thing I particularly enjoy about attending conferences is how new ideas and random associations can pop up unexpectedly.

This happened to me during the 2017 DHL Global Life Sciences Conference in Singapore. At one point, Facebook’s Kiran Raghavan put up a slide containing a question posed by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” Sandberg was addressing a group of female students at their graduation ceremony when she asked this question and was encouraging them to lean in and achieve more than they thought possible in their future careers.

The predominance of men or rather the minority representation of women in business, particularly in leadership roles, is a key concern. Sandberg has developed the Lean Inprogram to tackle this head on. With the mission of empowering women to achieve their ambitions, Lean In builds public awareness, helping us all to change the way we think about gender. A recent Lean In campaign challenged men to consider their role in achieving equality and changing the trajectory of women in business.

At DHL, one of our greatest strengths lies in the diversity of our people and we are determined to tap into everyone’s full potential. My focus is on merit – I look at which team members are delivering at the highest levels and which ones need help to address challenges and achieve more. Whether they are a female or male simply never enters the equation.

Sandberg’s question got me thinking even further. After reflecting on equal support for women and men in business, I switched this around to consider her question in the context of life sciences. What would we do in life sciences and healthcare if we weren’t afraid? Where could we take this industry and how much further can we reach? How much more would we do for patients…if we weren’t afraid?

I sense that if we weren’t afraid of current complexity nor afraid of the consequences of collaboration, we could change many things for the better. We could change the way that diabetes patients are treated. We could drive ecommerce to enable a better experience for patients ordering and receiving drugs, medical devices and other life sciences and healthcare products online.

Of course, the upshot of my thinking was more questions: So why can’t we do this yet? Why must consumers tolerate special and different conditions in life sciences and healthcare compared with other industries? How can we enable people to order medicines and treatments in just the same way as they order food, books and tech gadgets? How can we improve industry regulation to support new processes and the convenience of using the latest technologies already at our fingertips?

Do you have some of the answers? Please share your thoughts and comments below. I’d also like to hear what you’d do if you weren’t afraid. What’s your great original idea and how are you planning to build on this?

Published: October 2017

Images: DHL/Shutterstock