MF 162 : Paula Brown Stafford and Lisa T. Grimes on Moving Forward from Rivalry to Collaboration
Updated: Jun 17, 2022
Paula Brown Stafford and Lisa T. Grimes are former rivals in the biopharma industry turned collaborators. Today, Paula and Lisa share their extraordinary story, co-founding Habergeon, the power of mentorship, and co-writing their first book, Remember Who You Are.
Successes at a glance:
Paula and Lisa are the co-authors of Remember Who You Are which talks about the importance of mentorship, particularly for women starting out in their careers.
Paula is the Chief Development Officer at Novan, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company.
Lisa is the CEO at PurThread, an antimicrobial textile company.
Paula and Lisa co-founded a coaching and consulting practice, Habergeon.
Paula and Lisa’s story:
It’s hard to believe when you listen to Paula and Lisa but they were once fierce rivals. Years ago, Paula and Lisa worked at competing companies. Both were highly successful, driven and stood out in an industry, biotech and pharma, that historically didn’t have a lot of women working in high positions. Paula and Lisa were trailblazers and while they had more in common than they realized, they worked hard to avoid one another. Their positions at competing firms led them to bid against one another for big contracts, often with millions of dollars at stake. Paula shares that for the longest time she only knew Lisa by reputation as a really sharp, put together individual who had a lot on the ball. In other words, she hated her! Lisa felt the same, avoiding Paula whenever they happened to be in the same place, usually passing one another as they met with the same client. This avoidance dance continued for a long time, even after a mutual friend suggested they get together socially, as he recognized how much they had in common. It took several tries but this friend eventually convinced the two to meet for after-work drinks. Within 15 minutes, they were finishing each other’s sentences! The two stayed in touch and as their careers took them away from direct competition, they got more involved with one another’s lives. Paula and Lisa saw a commonality between them of professional and personal experiences. The friendship blossomed until the two of them decided to collaborate. First, they launched Habergeon, a full service consulting, coaching and mentoring service. Second, they wrote their first book together, Remember Who You Are, which was published earlier this month. Truly a remarkable story of moving forward together from rivalry to partners!
Their big why:
As two women who have emerged as leaders in a tough industry, all the while balancing family and other obligations, Paula and Lisa realized they had a lot of great knowledge and experience that they could pass on to those starting out. Paula and Lisa went thru a lot of trials and tribulations early on in their respective careers. Today, they want to mentor those starting out, especially young women who are breaking into historically male-dominated industries like biotech, pharma, so they can move forward.
Biggest challenge today:
One of the big challenges is spreading the word on the importance of mentorship. Their big why is to help those who are starting out avoid some of the pitfalls and rough patches they experienced early on in their careers.
Moving forward past that challenge:
Co-writing Remember Who You Are was a big step in moving forward past that challenge. They are also spreading the word by doing lots of media, speaking engagements and podcast interviews.
Best tip for achieving or maintaining work-life balance in 2018:
Paula: prioritize! Stick to your priority list and for “those things you’re not so keen on” – outsource them.
One tip for approaching someone you’ve known as a competitor or rival to test the waters on collaboration or find some common ground:
Lisa: start by finding an interest you have in common. For Paula and Lisa, it started with causes (non-profit or charitable) they both cared about and volunteered their time and energy to.
How Paula and Lisa are moving forward today:
Paula: take some quiet time away from the phone, the news, the hustle and bustle. This is something Paula has learned and embraces from Lisa.
Lisa: making sure she has adequate time for friends or to help friends of friends accomplish a goal.
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Who are Paula and Lisa in five years?:
Paula will be the same person that she is today. She is comfortable with who she is and knows her brand. She serves others and in 5 years, maybe there will be a book number 2 and grandkids!
Lisa will still be Lisa but maybe a better, improved version. She is someone who loves to connect with people. Lisa hopes they will have impacted a lot of professionals to sit back and realize the benefit of being authentic to themselves. Finally, Lisa also thinks that book number 2 will be done and that they will be working on book number 3!
“Make sure that as you remember who you are that you’re passionate about it, you keep your priorities in order, you’re willing to be vulnerable to the people with whom you’ve interacted and stop feeling guilty about things that you don’t need to feel guilty about.” -Lisa
“Be authentic to who you are and just be you.” -Paula
Connect with Paula and Lisa:
Paula and Lisa’s new book: Remember Who You Are