Corporate Responsibility

Raising the bar: an inspirational woman

By our Editorial Team

Lynn Taylor, Senior Vice President, Head of Healthcare Global Government & Public Affairs at EMD Serono, Head of Corpora

Lynn Taylor, Senior Vice President, Head of Healthcare Global Government & Public Affairs at EMD Serono, Head of Corporate & Government Relations USA at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, shares her views on women in science in the world today.
With more than 20 years of healthcare experience, and a passion for transformation and mentorship, Lynn Taylor is a senior leader and global corporate affairs executive at EMD Serono – the biopharmaceutical business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in the US and Canada. In addition, she maintains a civic presence serving as Chairman of the German American Business Council (GABC), Member Board of Directors of Healthy Women and member of the Board of Governors of the Bryce Harlow Foundation. We spoke to Lynn about her path to success, and her thoughts on the challenges facing women in science today.
Q: What were the best decisions that set you on the ‘right’ path?
I aspired to be a leader and make an impact. I wanted to give back to society and be an advocate for those without a voice. It was those aspirations that led me to jumping on a bus to Washington, DC, without a job, but with big goals in mind. While there was no exact ‘roadmap’ that led me here, I always had the mentality of pushing boundaries and forging my own path. I wanted to raise the bar and take on new challenges. If I could overcome one obstacle, I knew I could overcome the next. 
Q: Is mentorship an important component of professional development?
Absolutely. I accredit my success thus far to those who have supported me. Great mentorship has the power to improve careers and lives overall. It’s not enough to climb the ladder, you need to bring others with you.
I also strongly believe in the need for ‘sponsorship’ or endorsement of individuals. It’s critical to sponsor others by lending your name (credibility and reputation) to help them advance within the company or externally.
Q: What has been your greatest accomplishment? 
Through my company and the mentors who believed in me, I’ve been entrusted to build a global function and lead a global team. I’m very proud to be part of impactful initiatives like Healthy Women, Healthy Economies, which aims to implement policies that advance women’s health to support their economic participation, and Embracing Carers, which recognises that caregivers are a critical element to the healthcare continuum and that caregiving disproportionately affects women. Being part of the creation of these movements is incredibly meaningful to me.  
When it comes to personal accomplishments, when I was 35, single and devoted to my career, I thought a lot about having a family one day. But I understood that due to some health challenges my ability to have children could become increasingly difficult. I underwent treatment for oocyte cryopreservation (egg freezing) and years later, when the time was right, I went through multiple cycles of in vitro fertilization. I now have two amazing children with my husband and I’m thankful for the advancement in healthcare technology that allowed me to have a family.
Q: Have you faced any obstacles that were directly related to being a woman? 
I’ve experienced many challenges as my career ran in parallel with health obstacles and choices that I was only able to overcome through the support of my organization, family, friends and mentors. When I made the decision to freeze my eggs, I was a single woman who had to carry the weight of my responsibilities at work and manage this complicated procedure. It was hard on my body and my mental health, but it gave me the peace of mind to focus on my career and not worry about my ‘biological clock’. I was able to focus and rise in my workplace so that, when I met my husband years later, I was ready for the next stage of my life.
Q: What types of skills do women in the pharmaceutical industry need to develop? 
First, we need to do more than listen. If you’re in a position of leadership, it’s about more than your own ability to thrive. It’s about your entire team – and empowering them to have the flexibility to integrate work and family.
Second, use your voice – it has value. We can each be a very vocal advocate for things that demand change, especially if they stem from personal experiences. If your company has flaws, help fix them. Find allies, try to create momentum, and be soldiers for change.
Q: What advice would you give to young women aspiring to follow your path?
Follow your passions, work hard for your dreams, and seek out mentors and sponsors that you can trust, while also being willing to mentor others. Trying to achieve career advancement and motherhood at the same time can be challenging but, with the right support and sense of tenacity, it’s achievable.
Interview with:
Lynn Taylor, Senior Vice President, Head of Healthcare Global Government & Public Affairs at EMD Serono, Head of Corporate & Government Relations USA at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
1299 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004, USA