Analysing Risk with Lynn Johnson.

Leaders

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Every person has value. No matter what others say about them, or even how they view themselves. It’s not a mistake that we were born or look the way we look, and all these factors play a role in achieving our purpose. We are all meant for greatness in our own way, we just have to be aware of our value.

It can be difficult for us to believe that we’re a high-value people, especially when we’re always getting compared to others. However worth that comes from others is variable and isn’t able to sustain us. Self-worth, however, comes from within, so it can’t be taken away. We should all feel like we are capable of doing anything we set our minds to.

That doesn’t mean we don’t face challenges, a fact of life. However, no matter how big or small, challenges give us an opportunity to introspect ourselves. An exercise which allows us not only to find our faults, but also the best parts of ourselves. We sat down with Dr. Lynn M. Johnson, President, APiS North America , LLC to talk about her professional and personal life, COVID-19 and how her experiences helped her shape who she is today, not just as a professional but also as a person.

Life lessons reflect in my work ethic at APiS North America. The value of precision, thoroughly checking one’s work and the importance of always improving your knowledge in your chosen career field.

Aspioneer(A): Please share with us a little bit about your past. How did your formative years prepare you for the position you are at today?

Dr. Lynn Johnson(L): I received my undergraduate degree from the first pharmacy school in the US, the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science (now University of the Sciences at Philadelphia). As students, our mentors were some of the best known and well respected pharmacy leaders in the country, so the bar was set very high, so to speak.  When I graduated the top in my class in my Doctorate of Pharmacy degree at Nova Southeastern, I set a new standard for myself. Each position I had the opportunity to hold, I did so as if I owned it. When I was chosen as President of APiS North America, LLC, I knew I had to leverage my strengths. At  APIS®, failure is not an option. Whether it is a medical procedure, brakes of your car or an autonomous system, such critical systems cannot be allowed to make mistakes or fail. Otherwise organizations and consumers risk facing a catastrophe.

My strong drive for lean processes and no failure in my profession of service to patients, therefore assets which I was keen to employ at  APiS North America.

A: Starting a business from scratch is no easy task. What were some of the challenges you faced in the beginning? How did you overcome them?

L: We started APiS North America, LLC in July 2016 with just two employees: Myself and our Vice President, Chad Johnson. When it came to risk management and mitigation it was important that we were up to the mark before launch. That meant writing a business plan, developing new processes and creating a strong culture of work. Without these qualities it would have been impossible to maintain the company’s mission when providing our services to our customers.

Within a year, it was obvious we needed to develop a stronger training program and include services in Spanish, since our clients in Mexico were a large part of our customer base.  We implemented a Program Director and found Anthony Rodriguez to meet our high standards of excellence.  With Anthony, our training team developed online training in 2018 to meet the needs of our global customers. This provided a firm foundation and we were able to seamlessly move all IQ-Software training and consulting virtually, as the pandemic became imminent in the US in mid-February.   

Dr. Lynn M. Johnson, President, APiS North America.
Dr. Lynn M. Johnson, President, APiS North America.

“Be proud, show your strength, develop, and present new ideas, contribute to conversations, but be humbled by mentors who are willing to provide quality advice and opportunity.”

A: It was lucky that you were prepared for COVID-19. Not only the pandemic has decimated organizations around the world it has greatly affected the mood of leaders and employees. How has been your company coping in these trying times?

L: The past few months have been a continuously evolving journey, to say the least. Our internal operations were moved, without issue, to a remote platform. Since then we have been providing our services to our clients through a web-based platform. Because we had developed a virtual program in 2018 and provided it to many teams, we transitioned all scheduled and upcoming IQ-Software training and consulting to virtual very easily.  

Our sales and marketing CRM had been built over the months prior to the pandemic as well, so we were in a great position to maintain remote work seamlessly for myself and our Sales Manager. Since then I have added weekly meetings where we can discuss business, as well as find out about any personal issues where my assistance is required. I implemented a leadership training series that we all continue to do together, thereby increasing our efficiency. This has provided a great motivating culture and keeps everyone focused and feeling productive and good about what we are all working on together.

A: There have been numerous reports on the mounting shortages of PPEs and other equipment during the pandemic. How is your company giving back or contributing to the fight against the coronavirus crisis?

L: We have made contributions to local community organizations, provided PPE to those in need, and provided customers additional support that assisted them at the time so much was changing at their facilities and organizations. 

Quite recently, the FDA renewed warnings of dangerous hand sanitizers that contained toxic methanol.  My colleagues and I were appalled upon hearing this. I wanted to make sure that failures of these kinds did not happen again. We reached out to manufacturers of PPE and sanitizing products to provide our services to them as a contribution to their product, manufacturing quality and safety. We know so many in need of help and have worked as a team to show APiS North America’s commitment to this fight.

A: Let’s move on to lighter but still a significant topic. Leadership is a continuously evolving process. No matter how long one has been working, there is always something new to learn. What are the leadership principles that you have discovered over the years that have contributed to your success?

L: I have a few principles that are part of my daily reflection. If you ask those that work with me, they all know the two they hear the most:

One is that being a mother helped me to be a better leader and being a leader helped me to be a better mother. I developed this principle when my daughters were young, and I was a full time Director of Pharmacy and Nursing and a single mother. I had to work at being more assertive with my colleagues, so that I had the ability to be less assertive and more soothing with my daughters when I got home from my very long day. 

The second one I always say must be attributed to a previous leader and mentor of mine. If you cannot write the check, do no not make the decision. That may need no explanation, per se, but yes, if I am unable to pay for what I am about to purchase or decide upon, then I need to not make that decision alone and discuss it with my leadership team.

A: Delving deeper, it is often said that it is us through our failures and mistakes that we learn the most. What has been the best professional mistake you ever made? What did you learn from it?

L: I do not necessarily call the mistake a “best” mistake, but it is the most significant one that changed my life forever. As a new pharmacist in a large trauma center, with pediatric patients, I had to undergo extra specialized training. As part of that, I made 3 errors in calculations that were never dispensed, but they were mistakes and I was corrected for them, as is done in any quality and safety plan. This led me to become vigilant in learning everything I could about pediatric patients, their medication needs, the dosing guidelines and why they were different from adult medicine. I developed myself to become the Pediatric Clinical Coordinator and Co-Chair of the first Pediatric Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee over my tenure at Broward General Medical Center.   

Today those lessons reflect in my work ethic at ApiS North America. The value of precision, thoroughly checking one’s work and the importance of always improving your knowledge in your chosen career field.

A: In a previous question you told us about a leadership principle you learned from a former mentor of yours. Is there any advice you wish to share with women aiming for leadership positions?

L: The ambitions and circumstances of every person can be different. However, there is something I would like to share with all women. Do not be afraid of what others might think of you. Be proud, show your strength, develop, and present new ideas, contribute to conversations, but be humbled by mentors who are willing to provide quality advice and opportunity.

A: Some may find our final question a bit nebulous and far out but we believe that all good leaders self-reflect about their legacy, not just as a professional but also as a person. So, what do you believe your legacy is going to be? How will the success of your company help manifest it? And what will be your endgame?

L: With so many unknowns, I will  want to accomplish personal gratitude and grace over the coming months. My legacy will be seen in our daughters, who we have raised to be independent, strong, hard-working, and excited for their futures. 

Professionally, the success of APiS North America, LLC will always be a part of me and my success. I have not previously been so grateful and excited for each new day at work prior to these past 4 years. I want to continue to grow our company and our team and prepare them for greatness. To give to others is what I want to provide most and this will be my endgame (in many years of course!) as I pass the baton to the next great leader with the vision and passion for APiS North America that I have.

* Some of the questions and answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

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Flying High: Women Leaders, 2020 ​.

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