Meet Member and HBA Canada President: Danielle Portnik | HBA

Meet Member and HBA Canada President: Danielle Portnik

Danielle Portnik
product manager in critical care, oncology, autoimmune/rare disease, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals

Why did you join the HBA?
I work with a great team, great boss and important therapies for underserved populations — it’s the perfect trifecta. Even so, I felt that I needed something more – to contribute to our industry in some other way. At the same time, I happened to have a great discussion with my boss about looking for more female mentorship. The two got me thinking that perhaps there was an organization here that I could join and contribute to that would achieve both of those goals. I began researching ‘female leadership’ associations, boards, etc. (whatever I could think of really).

When I found the HBA I got excited – here was an organization whose mission and values matched that of my own, whose programs looked to be of exceptional quality and whose network spanned the globe with partnership from many of healthcare’s largest companies. And then I saw they didn’t have a presence in Canada — thus missing one of the important goals I intended to achieve. I wondered why the HBA wasn’t in Canada. We have incredible life sciences and healthcare hubs across the country. In Ontario alone, there are more than 30,000 people that work in healthcare. That’s when it hit me — I felt that I could not be the only person looking for this here and looking to do more – the HBA needed to come to Canada and we needed to build our own network of incredible women.

And so, began my journey by launching HBA Canada with five other incredible women with similar stories that were dedicated to the same cause. Fast forward six months into it — the more I learned about and recognized the gender parity imbalances in life sciences and the business of healthcare, the more my personal mission to move the needle sharpened. Today, it’s not just about doing more or building a network of incredible women. Today, it’s about igniting passion, inspiring confidence and diversifying perspective to mobilize that incredible network to effect change.

What do you enjoy the most about volunteering?
Getting to be a part of something so meaningful, so powerful that is shaped by 1) the people I meet and work with, 2) the phenomenal programs we’re able to run and 3) the energy that the entire team shares to do this incredible work. I love getting on calls with our team, speakers and partners to move our work forward — I feel like I’ve gained such incredible perspective from everyone and my passion is ignited and reignited with every step we take.

What are your interests outside of work and the HBA?
One thing I’m really passionate about is helping others get into the healthcare business and understand the potential it holds for their careers and aspirations. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Ryerson on a few programs for their undergraduate students to help them understand the industry and with my alma mater, U of T, to help future MBiotechers get started in their careers with a bang. Outside of that, I take every chance I get to get some exercise and clear my head (or at least arrange my thoughts). Whether it’s skiing, hiking, running or just going for a long walk — it grounds me and gives me the time I need to reset my focus and drive. Then there’s the obvious — catching up with friends over good food (and wine).

What or who inspires you/fun fact about you/what’s your favourite quote/what’s one thing you’ve learned recently?
Conversations inspire me. I know that sounds perhaps a bit strange, but it’s when I’m talking with someone that the ideas start spinning. I thrive on the things I learn from others — so I guess that means I’m inspired by everyone I meet in one way or another. That makes my favourite quote easy — ‘the perspective you need is often the one you don’t have’. I think it reminds us that as smart, as driven and as capable as we may all be individually – this is far outweighed by what we can do through collaboration.

A fun fact about me — I feel like I’m a human jukebox. I have a knack for remembering lyrics to songs even if I’ve only heard them once before. If only I got the singing voice to go along with it.

Something I learned recently — this may be a bit nerdy – but I learned how to take ‘long’ pictures with your phone. For example, if you’re standing in front of a tall statue and you want to capture yourself and the whole statue in the picture (and not be standing 100m away) – you can set your iPhone to panorama mode, turn it horizontally and take a panorama from the bottom of the statue to the top. Fun fact!

Groups audience: