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Women in Leadership: Pat Rowland

Pat Rowland is the Executive Vice President of Group Health and Strategy Officer for One Call. Driving the company’s growth strategy through acquisitions, mergers and strategic partnerships, you could say Pat is the company’s “right-hand woman.” This month, we sat down with Pat to learn about her journey to leadership, how she defines success and discusses what makes the special sauce of women leaders here at One Call. 

Did you always want to be in this role – or a leader?

Yes and no. My Myers-Briggs personality type – ENTJ – is “The Commander” and it certainly indicates that I like leadership by nature. Thinking back on my childhood, I did have many leadership roles. What I have found in business is that I like the leadership roles that are more behind the scenes. Leadership is fulfilling to me when I am able to help build and be part of a high performance team that shares a vision and puts the spotlight on the team’s accomplishments.

Was there a pivotal role or experience that significantly launched your career forward?

Early on in my career, I often faced being not only the youngest but also the only female on leadership teams. This created an environment of natural skepticism, so I had to learn how to prove my worth and abilities.

A pivotal event in my career came when I was 39 years old. I had just been promoted to a national senior manager when I learned that a group of field managers asked the CEO to fire me. Receiving this news was brutal. Fortunately, the CEO supported me and said “what you are doing is right, but your approach is wrong.”

It was at that point in my career when I learned not to get discouraged with failure, but to embrace it and learn from it. Taking a risky assignment and changing my approach taught me that just because I did not initially achieve the desired result; it doesn’t mean I should put it out of reach. I just needed to step back and find a different way to solve the problem.

How do you define success?

Do you know the Serenity Prayer? I try to live by it and choose to focus on the things I love about my life: my family, my career and my personal commitments. Success is completely up to me and is not limited by what others think. When my family is happy, when I am satisfied in my career and when I am committing my time to what I personally believe in, then I am successful – and right now, I have that.

What real-life applicable advice would you give to busy professional women who are trying to “have it all?”

The first thing that comes to mind when people ask women how to balance personal and professional life is children but that wasn’t in the cards for my husband and me so I do wonder how that would have changed the balance in my life.

Although I don’t have children, what I do have is a wonderful extended family of sisters, nephews and a namesake niece! My viewpoint on finding balance in life is to put family first, career second and find a personal connection to a service commitment. For me, education is what brought my husband and me together, so I give my extra time to our alma mater. You can have it all, but you have to decide what is most important to you to do so.

Why was it important for you to start the Women’s Charter Group at One Call?

Having been the lone female on many teams early on in my career, I know how important it is to build a female network to have a safe space to talk openly about issues – without judgment. Most men don’t understand the natural advantage they are born with simply by being male. As women, we have to be more purposeful in building relationships.

After talking with female colleagues at One Call about how we could better support the women in our company, I drew upon my time at Cigna where we started a women’s network, thus formed The Women’s Charter Group! It has been a joy to watch women support other women. What I like about the Charter Group at One Call is that it has become a self-managed network with each of us having a stake in the ownership of the group. The members of the Charter Group are the women you have been featuring every month in the Women in Leadership series so thank you!

We’ve met with many great women leaders at One Call this year. What traits do they all possess that makes them such impactful, influential leaders?

It’s simple – they all possess these four traits: positive outlook, self-empowerment, an appreciation for diverse points of view, and they all truly care about women and the future women have in this world.

You’ve accomplished so much – what’s next?

Well, thank you. I do like to work and I like the type of work I do here. Before I came to One Call, I was a consulting and I do miss the flexibility it gave me. I have recently learned about an emerging field called “executive on loan” which intrigues me for the future.  Working keeps me vital – and I think I will always want to work in some capacity or another.

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