Career and Leadership Coach
Founder and CEO of Your Worthy Career
AWIS member since 2021
“You can’t turn down a job that you haven’t been offered.”
What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned?
Hard work and caring will only get you so far. You need strategic skills and personal development to be the leader others want to work for, to get to higher levels of leadership, and to feel good about yourself. That last piece is critical. Achievements and resume boosters don’t create a high-quality life or career.
What do you consider to be your most important career achievement or milestone?
Specifically, it would be building the courage to start my business and leave my successful role in the Pharma industry. Generally, it would be that I always follow my interests and don’t let the fear of change prevent me from making pivots in my career.
I started my career in child welfare, and when I realized how much I enjoyed developing others, specifically adults, I made the shift into the Pharma/Biotech industry for a learning and development role. When I had a great opportunity to move across the country to lead learning and development at Human Genome Sciences, I packed up my family and moved. When I went to graduate school for Organizational Psychology and saw the impact I was making with talent development and culture, I advocated for having a new role created for me with AstraZeneca. When working directly with women to help them advance their career and live more authentically became an undeniable passion, I followed it to start my business.
I credit a lot of my success to listening to my inner voice and not being afraid to leave something good to create something great.
What do you aspire to accomplish in your career and why? What obstacles will you overcome?
Since I was a child I have been driven to have a positive impact in society. My goal is to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, especially women and marginalized groups. I believe strongly in science and the industry I serve, and am motivated to enable women in science to have meaningful careers where they feel confident in who they are.
Obstacles I have had to overcome include building my own confidence in being visible, and learning how to be a CEO and entrepreneur. Because business ownership requires consistent change and innovation, I will continue to learn for the rest of my career.
I care deeply about helping people, and worked to identify ways to be accessible. This is why I created my podcast, Your Worthy Career. It allows me to reach people and help them with tangible strategies and tips for free, every week.
Describe an amazing opportunity in your STEM career.
One of my favorite things about my career in STEM is how giving the Pharma/Biotech industry is. Every organization I’ve worked for has provided volunteer days, charitable matches, and/or opportunities to work with young talent and bring them into the industry. Some favorite memories include helping high school students prepare for upcoming interviews to get their first jobs out of school, and working with the local college to sponsor mentorship for young women interested in pursuing a STEM career. Because of my work in Pharma, I’ve also had the opportunity to meet patients who have been impacted by the medicines we created.
It’s very important to me that the work I do and the organizations I support are doing good in the world. Now that I have my own business, I donate a percentage of my earnings every year to human and women rights organizations
What do you consider the best professional or personal advice you’ve ever received?
One piece of advice that has stuck with me is, “You can’t turn down a job that you haven’t been offered.” I received this advice when I was considering a job change over a decade ago and was getting caught up in the “what ifs” of the job. What if I have to travel? What if the schedule doesn’t work for my family? What if it isn’t better than what I’m doing now? All of those worries were preventing me from applying for the job but all of those worries would be answered when and if I received an offer.
It’s easy to get caught up in the end result and forget that we can advocate for ourselves every step of the way. You can decide at any moment the job isn’t a good fit but don’t let the potential of the unknown stop you from even trying.
Melissa Lawrence is the CEO of Your Worthy Career. She is an experienced career and leadership coach that began her company after a successful career in the Pharma/Biotech industry. She now leverages her experience in talent development from AstraZeneca, Emergent BioSolutions, Covance, and others to help women in Pharma/Biotech advance their careers and find their path to happiness at work. She also hosts the podcast “Your Worthy Career.” She holds a Masters degree in Organizational Psychology and is a certified professional career and life coach. Melissa has been an active volunteer with Women in Bio and ISPE’s Women in Pharma Committee.