Women in Business: Megan Driscoll, Founder and President, PharmaLogics

Megan Driscoll is the founder and president of PharmaLogics. She has been recruiting in the bio-pharmaceutical industry for well over 17 years. She is responsible for the company's 2009 transition away from the traditional retained recruiting model, to its current innovative anti-fee recruiting platform. Since this switch, PharmaLogics has grown from four to 40 people in five short years. She is also the author of, "I would consider any reasonable offer: A Guide to Successfully Interviewing in the Biotech or Pharmaceutical Industry", and she has been a career development speaker for AAPS, ALA, ISPE and BIO for the last five years. Megan graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

In the beginning of my career, opportunity and effort accounted for most of my early success, not only in my first recruiting position, but also in starting my own company at the age of 28. The bulk of my learning occurred when I became a business owner and was the sole person responsible for the company's success and my employees livelihoods. I had to learn a lot through trial and error because having never run a company before, I didn't have a handbook on what you should and shouldn't do. Surviving these mistakes, and learning from the lessons they taught have made me the leader I am today. It's given me confidence to know that we can maneuver around any curve ball that business life throws at us.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position at PharmaLogics?

The job that I ask people to do at the lowest level within my organization is the exact same job that I performed when I graduated college. There isn't a single struggle that I haven't been through myself and that experience allows me to understand what my employees are going through and allows me to provide them with the support and guidance they need to be successful.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at PharmaLogics?

The challenges have mostly been related to the growing pains of scaling up. The idea that the fastest cars have the best brakes has been a hard concept for me to grasp because I tend to want to push further and faster. I've learned to run the company I have right now, and plan to run the company I want in the future. Planning lays the foundation so you don't become so reactive to the market of today.

The absolute highlight to my career would be making the INC 5000 list this year. Our company was ranked 2077 and has grown by almost 200 percent in three years. This is an accomplishment that I couldn't have dreamed possible when we first started. In the early years we worked on cordless phones and sat in a basement office with no windows. Today we're enjoying 8,000 sq. ft. of class-A space with a view of downtown Boston. Sometimes I pinch myself just to make sure this is all really happening. It's really been a wild and unexpected ride up.

What advice can you offer to women who want to start their own business?

Your work life and your home life are going to collide, so prepare for that challenge but know that the adjustment period is the hardest. Have confidence that everything will fall into place as you move forward with your new responsibilities. I also think that a lot of women are like me, always aiming for perfection and sometimes that can prevent you from even starting. Sheryl Sandberg said it well, "Done is better than perfect." As entrepreneur's, sometimes you just need to push forward into the fog. Although you might fall into a well and break your leg, your just as likely to stumble upon a pot of gold.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

The first few years after my children were born there were a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of running around from one thing to the next, but maintaining a work-life balance has gotten much easier over time. The beauty of owning your own business is that you have more flexibility, so the one thing I have always done is try to base my schedule around what my children needed most at the time. Now that they are a little older, nine and six, I leave work early to be home a few afternoons a week to help with homework, drive them to activities, or cook a family meal. I'm really enjoying this time of my life because I feel like everything is more evenly balanced, which is something that alluded me in the early years. Achieving balance takes work, but as my dad used to say, nothing in life worth having is easy.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?

The biggest issue for women in the workplace is their lack of presence in leadership positions. In 2013 women held approximately 52 percent of all professional level jobs, but only made up 14.6 percent of Fortune 500 executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. Three years ago 15 Fortune 500 companies were run by women, equating to only three percent of the marketplace. If you crunch the numbers, every year only an additional two women are earning the title of CEO. At that rate women won't achieve a 50 percent share of the CEO Fortune 500 marketplace until 2127 or later. Changing the course of these statistics is extremely important to me and its why I launched doit4yourdaughters.org, a social movement to raise awareness about gender equality in the workplace. Women having an equal place has to start with the men in power. They hold the keys to changing the professional landscape for women.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

A strong mentor(s) can have the biggest influence on both your professional and personal life. I have had quite a few mentors in my life and each one has brought a different perspective and helped me to develop a diverse set of skills. I think it's important to seek out help, so I always encourage entrepreneurs to identify people whom have experience in areas where they are themselves deficient. If you're authentic and gracious in asking, you'll never get turned down. The bottom line is that it takes a village and there isn't one successful person out there that has made it to where they are without the influence of at least one mentor along the way.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

Currently, I'm finding a lot of inspiration from Brene Brown. She talks a lot about how engagement can't happen without vulnerability so dealing with issues like shame, worthiness and authenticity are required of you as a successful leader seeking to make meaningful connections. The problem is that being vulnerable is uncomfortable and intimidating because you have to allow people to see your imperfections. Brown's presentations and books have given me the ability to speak my truth and share my beliefs more openly. I am leading with more confidence now because I am less concerned about what people think of me, and more concerned about making meaningful connections at home and in the office.

What do you want Pharma Logics to accomplish in the next year?

Last year we went through an exercise to identify the top 10 values our company stands for. After much debate we came up with the following list: Adaptable, team oriented, driven, trustworthy, clear and concise, enthusiastic, fun, resourceful and resilient. Having identified these, our next step is to weave these words into the fabric of what we do every day. I want to see them turn from statements on our wall, to actions that we live. If we do this, the sky is the limit for PharmaLogics and there will be no question that we'll be on our way to making the INC 5000 fastest growing company again next year.