Pharmacy U

Pharmacy Leader profile: Dr. Carmen Peña – “Do not give up in pursuing your dreams”




-Doctor in Pharmacy – Complutense University of Madrid

-Graduate in Pharmacy -Complutense University of Madrid

-Master in High Management of Health Institutions. IESE Business School, Navarra University



– Honorary President of the International Pharmaceutical Federation – Fip ( 2020 )

– President of the International Pharmaceutical Federation- FIP.  (2014-2018) -Vicepresident of the International Pharmaceutical Federation-FIP ( 2008-2014)

– President of the General Spanish Council of Pharmacists (2009-2015)

– Secretary General of the General Spanish Council of Pharmacists (1997-2009)

– Vice-President of the FIP, International Pharmaceutical Federation (2008-2014).

– Member of the Working Group for Public Policy of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (1999-2009)

– Member of the Spanish Delegation in the PGEU (Pharmaceutical Group in the European Union) (1997-2015)

– Member of the Spanish Delegation in FEPAFAR (Pan-American Pharmaceutical Federation) (2005-2015).

– Academic of the National Royal Academy of Pharmacy (Since 2005)

– Academic of the Latin-American Academy of Pharmacy (Since 2005)

– Honorary Member of the Pharmacy Academy of Castilla and León (30 January 2015)

– Advisor on the General Board of the INSALUD (Spanish National Health System) 1997-2002)



What excites you about being a pharmacist?
The capacity to help people through our scientific and clinical knowledge in Pharmacology and Public Health.


When you graduated, what did you envision for your future?
I was working in a community pharmacy one year before graduating and there I learned the importance of this health centre that is the community pharmacy, and its great work regarding patients’ medication.


How has your career evolved since you first started in the profession?
At the beginning, I wanted to work in community pharmacy. Later, life led me to serve the profession in Spain’s professional organization and the FIP. I started very young in the National Spanish Council of Pharmacists, where I had the honour of being General Secretary for 12 years and President for 6 years. I was Vice-President of FIP for 6 years and President for 4 years. A long career serving pharmacists and pharmacy at national and global levels.


How would you describe a great day at work?
A great day is when you feel you have been useful to your colleagues so that they will be useful to the patients.
What is (or has been) your greatest challenge as a leader in pharmacy?
I was able to achieve many of the most important challenges in my professional career with a lot of work, seeking consensus among my colleagues and with other sectors, and of course being loyal and consistent with the principles and ethics which should always prevail.


How important was mentoring in your career?
It has been very important. I had the fortune of having had great mentors who taught me that to be a good leader one should be honest, but strong and perseverant. By the way, my first and best mentor was my mother. 

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

At the moment I am on the board of the leading pharmacists cooperative in Spain, Cofares.  Cofares is a great company based on social economy that not only ensures that the network of community pharmacies in Spain has access to the medicines and health products that patients need, but also leads a large platform of face-to-face and digital services that allows community pharmacy to provide responses to the new needs of society in terms of pharmacy.
Looking at your career, what are you the proudest of? What have been some of the highlights of your career?
In my country, and at the political level, supporting the great Spanish model of community pharmacy, because it is very important for society; at a professional level, several years ago I helped boost the Pharmaceutical Care Forum in Spain where we achieved consensus among community, hospital, and administration pharmacists and others. The Forum is still active now.
At the international level in FIP, updating the FIP Statutes, which for the first time included the pillar of the Education inside the Federation Statutes; also, promoting the first FIP Statement about Women and Responsible Use of Medicine, among other relevant matters.


What legacy would you like to leave to the pharmacy?
To have achieved the full integration of community pharmacists in health policies regarding primary Care in their countries, always in collaboration with the rest of the health professionals.
And of course that pharmacists continue being active agents in achieving the desired Universal Health Coverage.


Do you feel there is a glass ceiling for women in pharmacy?
I believe that a glass ceiling still exists, especially in certain areas of the world, because pharmacists are, in the end, a reflection of the societies in which we work, so these invisible barriers are also found by women in all leadership positions in their respective societies.


Women are making a big name for themselves in pharmacy. What does this mean to you professionally and personally?
For me it is a source of pride and a great challenge that, generation after generation of pharmacists, women have represented 70% of the profession and have achieved the desired positions and are prepared to lead in them. Women in pharmacy are doing a great job giving visibility to the rest of the women of the world and being a mirror for women in other health and non-health professions, including the millions of women who are alone in the care of their children and their parents, especially difficult in these times of pandemic, and non-professional caregivers whose work goes unpaid, emotionally as well as financially.


What do you think needs to happen to have more women in executive roles across various sectors in the profession?
National policies and legislation are needed to promote and empower women to effectively achieve senior management, board of directors and presidency positions. Thus these perfectly prepared women will support and prepare new generations of women leaders from their positions in their respective countries.


How are women paving the way for changes in the pharmacy profession?
FIP is promoting different initiatives, through women’s platforms in Science, Education and Clinical Practice. I encourage you to join them for they will support you in your professional and personal path, as they have been an inspiration for other women nationally and worldwide.


What advice would you give to new female pharmacy graduates?
That they prepare themselves very well to compete fairly, for they are in a very hard world for men and women. That they specialize in the branches in which they have the most knowledge and skills. And that they do not give up in pursuing their dreams, as I can assure you, they come true.