22 March 2023

Paying it Forward: Empowering Women to Empower Women


Posted by: Tamara Grisard

Thinking back to my childhood, I didn’t know that the job I have today even existed. I’m now the executive director of Global Regulatory Affairs Pharmaceuticals at Elanco and I’m able to live out my passion for animals and people. It’s what drives me to be a leader in the animal health industry. But how did I get here? Mentorship. Especially mentorship from women in leadership within the animal health industry. 

Mentorship has always been a huge part of my life. My father was the executive director of our local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America whose mission is to “create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth.” From a young age, I saw through the eyes of my father just how powerful a positive mentorship can be in the lives of both the mentor and the mentee. Starting my career in 2007 at Novartis Animal Health, I quickly realized that I was lost in this new, exciting and fast-paced life that was the “corporate world.” With so many unwritten rules to corporate life, I realized that what I really needed was a strong mentor. Someone who could steer me in the right direction and give me sage advice for navigating this new world. I was fortunate to have several women in leadership that were more than happy to fill that mentorship role and provide me with guidance – serving as a sounding board when I ran into issues. 

Now that I’m established in my career, I strive to be a positive role model for young women. I can see myself in the young women who love animals, in the young women who have a passion for the animal health industry and in the young women who are unfamiliar with an industry and what it takes to be successful. But I hope those young women can see themselves in me too. In the representation of someone who looks like them, working at the highest levels within their company or broader industry. 

So here are a few of the most valuable pieces of advice that I received throughout my career – for those who strive to be a leader in their industry. 

  1. Do not change who you are at your core to try to fit in the corporate environment. Instead, embrace your uniqueness and use it to set yourself apart in a positive manner. While it hasn’t always been easy, I believe that following this advice has helped me successfully advance in my career while not losing myself. I appreciate that Elanco has an inclusive culture that allows us to bring our complete self to work without hesitation or shame. I believe when an organization encourages this type of behavior, you get the best out of people. 
  2. Find a strong mentor and sponsor, not only within the company but also in the broader industry. Networking and having strong connections should not be underestimated when it comes to being successful in the corporate environment.
  3. Self-promotion is not a negative thing. It is not enough to just be competent and do a great job at work, you also have to make the effort to share the positive contributions you are making to an organization so that they truly understand the value that you can, and do, bring to the table.

I’m dedicated to “paying it forward” by making the effort to mentor women within and outside of Elanco. From my experience, when you have a mentor who can help you find the intersection of what interests you and what you’re good at, you can do amazing things. 

Tamara Grisard

 Executive Director, Global Regulatory Affairs Pharmaceuticals


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