Pharmacy U

Pharmacy Leader profile: Amy Oliver – “As a pharmacy student I wanted to be exposed to everything.”

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Amy Oliver MBA, BScPh, RPh, PMP, CLC

CEO and Founder, Amy Oliver + Co

Helping healthcare leaders execute on strategy, management, and leadership

 

 

Snapshot:

-Education

  • Bachelor of Pharmacy from the University of Manitoba
  • MBA from the Asper School of Business (U of M) with a dual concentration in Organizational Leadership and Health Administration
  • ICF Certified Leadership Coach (CLC)
  • Globally certified project management professional (PMP)

Current role

CEO and Founder of Amy Oliver + Co, a firm that advises and coaches leaders and business owners in healthcare and social sectors to develop and strengthen their strategy, management, and leadership. 

 

-How has your career evolved since you first started in the profession?

I never could have imagined being where I am now when I started in the pharmacy space 18 years ago.  I have been incredibly privileged to have had so many amazing opportunities to grow and develop in different ways.

 

As a pharmacy student I wanted to be exposed to everything. I sought out opportunities to network and dabble in community pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, research, and even internet pharmacy. About 6 months after becoming a licensed pharmacist, I became a franchise owner with Shoppers Drug Mart in Winnipeg, which is where my passion for the business side of pharmacy really started. I went on to work with central office at SDM supporting other owners with pharmacy practice and operations.

 

Fast forward to now, I am running a company I am really proud of that helps pharmacy owners and other healthcare practice owners develop and implement strategy and embark on collaborative leadership journeys in an effort to positively influence their communities and the health and wellbeing of Canadians.

 

-How important was mentoring in your career?

I have had many mentors (inside and outside of pharmacy) and their impact has been far-reaching.  I have taken a little bit away from each of them and used them as building blocks to build my own career and my own leadership style.  Having great mentors has also motivated me to pay it forward and act as an accessible mentor and advisor to many others.

 

 

-What is (or has been) your greatest challenge as a leader in pharmacy?

My greatest challenges have all been gender related and I know I am not alone in that. Likely because they are one of the challenges that often feel completely out of your control….

 

Sexual harassment and gender discrimination have happened more times than I can count on one hand. It has taken relentless effort to be effective and dual-centric. Meaning career-focused and family- focused at the same time.

 

By the time I had kids, I knew I had a lot of women in the profession that looked up to me and I was incredibly determined to continue to grow professionally while having a family. I started my MBA while working full time, with two-year-old twins at home and pregnant with my third child. Needless to say, learning to navigate the challenges and barriers that come with the work-life narrative of a professional woman has been (and still is) the greatest challenge I have faced. And I know I share that challenge with so many other women. This has driven me to tackle purposeful initiatives, such as our upcoming Womentum series (www.amyoliver.ca/womentum), to advance women in healthcare leadership.

 

-As a leader in pharmacy, what continues to drive you?

I am driven by the opportunity for meaningful work, opportunities for collaborative leadership, and by the incredible potential of others.

 

I truly believe our impact can be far-reaching and long-lasting if we work to knock down barriers to women in leadership, empower all our pharmacists with the autonomy to define what meaningful work means to them, and help them develop the strategy and leadership skills to execute on their passions.

 

These have been the pillars of my professional career in pharmacy and are now the pillars of my company and we are fiercely committed to continuing to bring this vision to life.

 

-Do you feel there is a glass ceiling for women in pharmacy?

There are select women who have made it to the most senior levels of leadership in a few organizations.  But I don’t want that to cloud the fact that there still exists a significantly disproportional representation of women in top leadership positions in organizations as well as a significantly underrepresented number of pharmacy owners that are women in Canada.

 

We need to see a very purposeful, collaborative, and sustainable effort at individual, organizational, and societal levels in order to hammer away at the walls and barriers experienced by so many women until that glass ceiling comes crashing down.