Stories and Viewpoints

In Fireside Chat, Three Women Leaders Advise Colleagues to ‘Win or Learn’


June 12, 2023


When Melissa Fisher was growing her career, the turning point happened when she started to build courage.


It wasn’t easy. Raised in South Africa during the late stages of apartheid, she never felt like the perfect package.


But opportunity came in the form of mentors who supported her: “Sometimes, you need that someone, that hand on your shoulder, that actually says: ‘Just have courage.’”  


As long as Melissa was learning, she was building the confidence she had lacked growing up. She developed a circle of trusted people – something she thinks of as a personal advisory board -- with whom she could share even her wildest ideas and get input from a wide variety of viewpoints.  


The approach served her well. Today, she is Viatris’ country manager for Ireland, and she is still constantly learning.


Click here to hear more from Melissa.


“When (things) go wrong, don’t beat yourself up over it, and understand: what’s the learning that you can take from it?” Melissa said. “Win or learn. Take ‘lose’ out of your vocabulary. There is no such thing.” 


She spoke as part of a May 18 fireside chat that included three of Viatris’ female country managers. The chat was included in a May Town Hall hosted by EmpoWer, the company’s employee resource group (ERG) for women and their allies.


EmpoWer offers events, virtual training, networking and other resources to members as part of its purpose to collaboratively drive an ecosystem within Viatris that empowers women to reach their full potential.


“You have absolutely the power and control within your own self to identify who are the people you are surrounded by that you look up to. … Just go and ask,” Melissa said. “You don’t have to wait to be invited.”  


Radhika Bhalla, who works in India as the head of Emerging Asia Alliance Markets, agreed with Melissa’s “win or learn” motto, adding, “For me, empowerment is also about learning and growing – the feeling of constantly getting better and evolving with every role, every new exposure that you get.”


Click here to learn more about Radhika’s thoughts on mentorship.


Radhika urged the audience to look at growth as an ongoing process, rather than a singularly achieved goal. To do that, it is important to move beyond what is comfortable and familiar, she said. 


“You can’t have one super successful stint and then sit back and relax,” she said. “You have to relentlessly keep at it, repeating the loop and doing it time and again: learning, adding skills and bringing that to your performance and demonstrating consistency and capability.” 


Esmeralda Rodriguez, who serves as head of Central America and the Caribbean, echoed the importance of tackling the unfamiliar. She acknowledged that when she took her current job, she was nervous. 


“When you feel all this emotion, it usually means you are being pushed out of your comfort zone,” she said. “And (when) that happens, we are growing. I was qualified for the job. I just needed to believe in myself.” 


Click here for Esme's advice on career advancement.


Like Melissa, Esme sees value in seeking out a variety of perspectives when creating solutions. And she urged the audience to establish priorities in both their careers and their personal lives so they can be fully present in what they are doing. 


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