Skip to main content

Young Leader in Pharmacy Mark Zhou: "The pandemic has really shown how integral we are to the healthcare system."

Mark Zhou



BSc. Pharm, UBC

Current role

Director of Pharmacy Operations at EasyDrugs Canada

What excites you about being a pharmacist?

The impact that we can make in our patients’ lives. The pandemic has really shown how integral we are to the healthcare system in helping maintain the health of our patients. Also, the variety of ways we can use our knowledge and skills to help in different roles, both within the pharmacy and beyond.

When you graduated, what did you envision for your future? 

When I graduated, I thought I’d work in the pharmaceutical industry or some sort of business role. Never did I expect the career path I took, but looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing

How has your career evolved since your graduation?

I started as a pharmacist, then became an associate owner at SDM, and that was a great crash course in not only how to be a better pharmacist, but a better leader for your team. There I learned the importance of your team, more so than any other skills or business knowledge.

After leaving Shoppers, I worked on a start-up with a physician colleague of mine and that really opened my eyes to the impact we can make beyond the dispensary. Afterwards, I got into ownership of an independent pharmacy and then into operations consulting with McKesson, where I was really able to learn about innovative practices in pharmacy and see the bigger picture, while getting to connect with many key innovators and leaders in the pharmacy space.

Now I’m currently fully immersed in the health tech space at EasyDrugs, looking to build new technology to help independent pharmacies across Canada.  

How would you describe a great day at work?

A great day at work is a day where I learn something new. With all the changes happening in the pharmacy profession and the accelerated adoption of technology in health care, there is so much to learn. 

How important is mentoring in your career?

Mentorship has been extremely important; I wouldn’t be where I am today without mentors every step of the way pushing me to be better and sharing their knowledge and experiences.

I’ve had peer mentors who have helped me grow as a pharmacist and pharmacy owner; I’ve had bosses who have pushed me to think outside the box and given me opportunities to pursue my passions, and I’ve had countless colleagues who have taken the time to share their wisdom and experiences with me. I hope that one day I can do the same for others.

Was there an “aha” moment for you, when you realized the impact of the difference you’re making?

When I left the dispensary and was able to work on projects that allowed me to make an impact outside of my local area. As much as I appreciated the impact I could make in patients’ lives by being in the pharmacy, this showed me that I can make an impact beyond my local community and put me on a mission to find ways to help our profession grow.

If you can accomplish just one thing in your career, what would it be?

I would hope to be able to inspire pharmacists to take risks and find what they’re truly passionate about. It’s never too late. 

As a dynamic leader in the profession, what continues to drive you?

I’m driven by the great work of my peers in the profession and innovators in the healthcare space. Healthcare is just beginning its digital transformation, accelerated by the COVID pandemic; I’m excited every day to see change happening and learn from it.

How are young leaders paving the way for changes in the pharmacy profession?

Our young leaders are the future of the profession and they are focused not on what the profession is currently, but what it could become. Through their hard work, advocacy and creative thinking, they are going to shape the profession for years to come.

What advice would you give to new pharmacy graduates?

Keep an open mind and try new things. Your pharmacy training and knowledge are incredibly versatile and will open up a lot of doors for you. If you haven’t found a role that you’re happy with, don’t give up and find ways to create that role for yourself.

With that being said, the most important thing you can do early on is to fully immerse yourself in the role of a pharmacist on the front lines – this is part of the journey and will give you a strong foundational understanding of what it is to be a frontline health professional. If you are looking to innovate or solve problems within the profession, you need to be able to understand the day-to-day roles and challenges.


This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds