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Pharmacy Leader Pavithra Ravinatarajan RPh: "Pharmacy is at a turning point."

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Pharmacy Leader Pavithra Ravinatarajan RPh: "Pharmacy is at a turning point."


Education: MPharm and eMBA (candidate)

Current Role: Product Director, Pharmacy Benefits Manulife


What excites you about being a pharmacist?

The opportunities are endless. Pharmacy is at a turning point currently. The roles of the pharmacist have changed immensely from being a clinician to being integrated into technology, innovation, various areas of the pharmaceutical industry, insurance and finance. The pharmacist practitioner is also changing with expanding scope and changing business models – it’s an exciting time for the profession.

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

My career is constantly evolving as I feel we never stop learning. When I first started my career, it was in long-term care working for a small, agile company. This allowed me to wear a lot of hats and learn new skills. One of the most important things I learnt was that being a pharmacist does not define or restrict you to a traditional dispensing role. After seeing the various roles in a business, I moved into corporate roles. Working at Shoppers Drug Mart and then McKesson/Rexall let me determine what I enjoyed and what I wanted to do within the profession. Today my exposure to various aspects of pharmacy has led me to not only take a non-traditional route into business but also start my own business. 

How important was mentoring in your career?

Throughout my career there have been many people who have influenced my decisions, supported my growth and helped me decide where I wanted to work and what I wanted to do. Mentoring has always been a large part of my career. If it weren’t for those before me taking the time to help guide me in the right direction, provide support and insight, I would not be where I am today. There are so many people I have to thank for taking the time to meet with me and stay in touch. Mentoring is important as it helps you learn from other experiences and see things in a different perspective. It’s something I truly believe. I myself have been given the opportunity to mentor various students throughout my career. Helping others find their path has always been a passion for me. I am always open to supporting the future of our profession as without all the women and men who took the time to help me see what I could achieve, I don’t think I could be where I am today. 

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

Innovation and patient outcomes. There is so much potential for the profession and each and every person entering it. What used to be a primarily patient-facing career can be anything you’d like it to be. You have seen the profession reach into insurance, helping ensure medication coverage sustainability, into technology with new systems of medication and service delivery, and so much more. Pharmacists have a role that is changing and as we move into the future what truly drives is helping lead that change. looking at the true value-add services pharmacists can offer and the impact we have on our patients.

What do you think needs to happen to have more women in executive roles across various sectors in the profession?

There are already some amazing women in leadership roles but there are few things that can happen to help more women across areas of the profession get to executive roles. I think we as women shouldn’t shy away from tooting our own horn. Often times we can be modest and believe our work will speak for itself, but in a company with a lot of employees we need to make sure that we gain visibility and build relationships. We also need to make sure we advocate for ourselves and women around us. Sometimes it can be a risk, but making sure we don’t shy away from that challenge and find the courage to go for what we want to achieve must be a priority. Companies can also rethink how they define certain roles. Executive roles can sometimes be seen as sole decision makers, and recruiters can have a bias for this. Having a more open approach that leadership can come in different styles and often having that mix is not only the right thing to do but also leads to better business. An initiative we are seeing in a lot of companies is ensuring work-life balance. Having this supports women in taking that next step in their career while they may also be juggling other responsibilities at home. Overall, companies being flexible and open minded gives a chance for women to show a different style in executive level roles.




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