Pharmacy U

Lisa Richardson leads with superior business savvy


“Without business education, pharmacists learn it through the school of hard knocks. Some business education would help every community pharmacist.”



  • Dalhousie University – Pharmacy
  • Mount Saint Vincent University – Business
  • Queens Executive School of Business – Finance, Leadership

Current Role

  • Vice President Pharmacy at Lawtons Drugs/ Sobeys Pharmacy Group

Early in her career, Lisa Richardson realized she could bring her passion for business into the pharmacy world. This created new opportunities for her and helped her change the way her company operated.

What was your first job when you graduated?

When I graduated there were 59 students and not all of us found jobs. I took a part-time relief position with Lawtons Drugs. With this position, they would call you the night before and tell you where you were going the next day. This could be anywhere in Nova Scotia. It was very challenging because you were walking into a strange pharmacy every time, but it exposed me to many different practices throughout the province.

What happened when Lawtons was purchased by Sobeys?

I opened the first Lawtons in a Sobeys grocery store. I remember recognizing the incredible opportunity. There was a large amount of traffic through the door, and I realized that I had new tools such as helping patients pick healthy food choices. It allowed me to develop new programs in the pharmacy. I started a small wholesale business in the store. This blossomed to the 55,000 sq. ft. wholesale operation we have today. I became an OTC category manager, the director of merchandising, senior director of vendor relationships and senior director of pharmacy for Sobeys as we expanded across Canada. At the time it was about raising the bar at Sobeys and implementing new patient care programs.

What’s important to you in advancing your career?

I like to do a little bit of everything. It is very important for me that my job never stay the same. This also applies for my current role as VP Pharmacy at Lawtons. I oversee professional and regulatory affairs, planning and innovation, wholesale and procurement, and our pharmacy benefit management company.

What advice would you give new pharmacy graduates?

I would recommend that all pharmacists take some business courses. It will help to move them along in their career. I would also recommend that all new graduates start their careers as relief pharmacists. You should expose yourself to as many areas of pharmacy as possible and use this to determine your best career path. Don’t become stale and take opportunities to move around the country and enjoy the flexibility our profession allows.

If you could change anything in our profession with the snap of your fingers what would it be?

I think I would change Canadians’ knowledge of pharmacy. It would be so much easier if the public understood what we do and what we will be doing in the future. They have to realize they can’t have expanded services and still have four-minute wait times for their prescriptions. I would also want them to realize that not everything is free.

Leaders in Pharmacy, including this independently written article, is supported by GenMed, a division of Pfizer