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Board Thought Leadership Series - Milva D’Aronco

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

WLP Thought Leadership Series is a bi-monthly communication to Women Leaders in Pharma from the WLP Board of Directors. It is intended to be thought provoking, stimulate reflections on industry trends and leadership, and further empower women to reach their full potential.

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Dear Women Leaders in Pharma,

Being instrumental in establishing Women Leaders in Pharma and seeing where we are now is quite humbling. A few years back, I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion at a WLP event entitled “Becoming a Powerful Change Agent: What does it Take?”. While we discussed the concept of the change agent, as well as possible methods of driving change, I still do not have a specific answer to the question, "what does it take to drive change?"

I consider myself to be a change agent and my first step into this journey was gaining awareness. Despite having worked in our industry for nearly 30 years, it is only over the last decade that I have become "aware" of the inequalities and the need to address them. There may be those who wonder how you realized this just ten years ago... alas, yes. It was an awakening, a realization, which was my personal turning point. It was impossible for me to remain inactive once I became fully aware. In order to drive change, involvement goes beyond a moment in time. It is a process. A journey.

This brings me to an article I read in the Harvard Business Review a few years ago titled "Seven Truths about Change to Lead By and Live By” (1) by Rosabeth Moss Kanter. She referred to these seven truths as Change Agent Bumper Stickers. In one way or another, all of these truths resonate with my own experience. Some even make me smile every time I read them.

  1. “Change is a threat when done to me, but an opportunity when done by me.”

  2. “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”

  3. “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

  4. “Change is a campaign, not a decision.”

  5. “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

  6. “Everything can look like a failure in the middle.”

  7. “Be the change you seek to make in the world.”

I would like to comment on just a few of these seven truths.

The journey of change begins with a single step. It seems every time I take a step towards an objective, that objective changes,… in part because of the step taken makes me see things from a new perspective, in part because, by taking the step, I gained knowledge, and in part because the world itself was changing as I was taking the step.

It may feel like things are failing at times. The McKinsey 2021 report "Women in the Workplace" (2) emphasizes the fact that women and working women suffered the most from the pandemic. A failure? No. It is a setback. More work is required to regain the lost ground.

Finally, be the change you seek to make in the world. It is a matter that is close to my heart. As a "change agent", my goal is to leave a better working environment for the women who will come after me.

It is perhaps even more important, however, that by being the change I wish to see in the world in my daily life, I hope to impart this understanding to my children, nieces, and the younger generation that tends to gather in my home and lead them to become their own advocates for equity and inclusion.

Ultimately, as mothers, aunts, stepmothers, grandmothers, sisters, women have the greatest potential to drive change, and it is through educating and supporting the next generation of change agents. There is no better way than showing them how it is done than by being a change agent every day.


(1) Seven Truths about Change to Lead By and Live By by Rosabeth Moss Kanter, August 23, 2010

(2) in the Workplace LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company


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