Acts of kindness. During the last few months, it’s been amazing to watch small acts of kindness from complete strangers. I remember one evening, walking out of the hospital to a parade of flashing lights, firetrucks and police cars, and people holding up signs and clapping for us. It was such a heartwarming moment and truly gave us the energy we needed to continue. I’ve also seen volunteers turn out in record numbers to deliver food and medicine to the elderly.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.
As a part of our series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Beth Battaglino, RN-C.
Beth is the CEO of HealthyWomen, the nation’s leading women’s health organization, that she restarted in 1997. In addition to being a practicing nurse in maternal child health in New Jersey, she is a mother, wife, sister and daughter. Beth’s mission, along with the mission of HealthyWomen, is to provide objective, research-based health information to educate women so they can make informed health choices for themselves and their families.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
It was truly pure luck! I had no idea that you could have a business career focused solely on women’s health outside of being a physician. After I graduated from Marymount University, with a degree in business and political science, my main objective was to find a job so I could stay in Washington, DC. I knew I wanted to go back to school for nursing, so I applied for a volunteer coordinator position at Columbia Hospital for Women, one of only seven women’s hospitals at the time. While I was interviewing for the volunteer position, the head of human relations suggested I would be perfect as the program coordinator for the National Women’s Health Resource Center. This was a national clearinghouse for women’s health and wellness information, which eventually evolved into HealthyWomen and is now the leading organization in women’s health and wellness.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
When I restarted HealthyWomen, I created it as a virtual company, with employees working remotely from home. In today’s current environment, this is the norm, but it was a huge gamble at the time. It took a lot of persuading board members, clients and funders as to why a virtual company could be successful. People either thought I was completely nuts or asked me for the blueprint on how to do it.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
At HealthyWomen, we are continually working on new and exciting projects. Health, innovation and technology are constantly evolving, especially in this current environment. We recently relaunched the HealthyWomen website to continue to build upon our data and insight capabilities, as well as making it as user-friendly as possible for our core audience of women aged 35 to 64. We are launching an all-inclusive breast health hub that will have everything you need to know on breast health in one place, including medically vetted articles, trusted organizations that focus on breast health, information on clinical trials, policy issues and updated guidelines and screening information. This will help women gather all the information they need in one place and help them connect to other organizations and health care professionals.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am absolutely grateful for my mother and father. I remember when I was starting with the organization — and I wasn’t sure if we were going to survive — my parents were completely supportive. That support and the knowledge that they were behind me really helped me with the confidence I needed to continue and succeed.
A few HealthyWomen board members have also been great mentors for me, including Susan Penfield, Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton and Oxana Pickeral. They not only provide support as board members, but also as successful businesswomen and medical experts. They truly gave me the strength and confidence to stay focused. Our current board members, including Tamar Thompson and Christine Verini, have been game changers when it came to supporting the new strategy of HealthyWomen and helping create and build a board that supports an online business. Monica Chaudhry and Tom Conti, who have great backgrounds in business and strategy, remain my go-to people to overcome any hurdles. They help me with bigger-picture thinking and implementation and provide the straight, honest conversation that is needed.
Phyllis Greenberger, MSW, HealthyWomen’s Senior Vice President of Science and Health Policy, is not only my mentor, but a pure superstar! Having her on my team to learn from and work beside has been a chance of a lifetime. She changed the protocol for clinical trials by ensuring women were included and helped put the importance of understanding sex difference on the map.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?
There is no balance. I’m navigating the impossible task of managing full-time childcare, while heading a company during a pandemic and taking on a new job as a grammar school teacher — which I truly am not! The challenges I face are similar to what so many other working parents are struggling with. I am “on” 24/7 and am just getting by. Between homeschooling, running a business, and doing the laundry list of mundane everyday activities that are never finished, I feel like I am on a treadmill that I cannot slow down.
I am also aware that I am managing a team of women, many of whom have children and are in the same position I am. There is no foolproof solution, but we are all in this together and trying to support each other. At the end of the day, I keep reminding myself the most important thing is to keep my family and myself safe and healthy.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
- Plan ahead. I sync my calendar for the most important tasks each day and work around my child’s schedule. I have created a “new summer” schedule. It is not regular office hours but helps me define my workday and allows me some flexibility. This includes time to eat lunch with my son and the chance to spend quality time together.
- Maximize outdoor time. Running keeps me sane — it helps me destress and makes me feel better.
- Switch if off. I shut down the computer at the same time each night so we can have dinner together as a family. I am an early riser, so that is when I can get some quality catch-up time before the official workday begins and before everyone else begins to stir.
- Take time to relax. I love to listen to the comedy station on satellite radio. Sometimes I just drive around for 15 to 20 minutes and laugh. Just remember to switch the station before the kids get in the car!
Can you share the biggest work-related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
Leading a virtual growing team can be hard under any circumstances, but now, since many of us have much more on our plates — juggling kids, homeschooling, house and partner — it has been much more challenging. Ensuring that my team stays motivated, our clients remain happy, and we continue to put out the high-quality work that HealthyWomen is known for is still my priority. While I’m doubling down on my family time, I feel the need to double down on work and the attention I give to the company as well.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I’m working through this by becoming more vulnerable and straightforward with people, including coworkers and my husband, which has helped me become more efficient and happier. I am also encouraging my team, which is all women, to do the same and directly share any concerns or thoughts they may have. This includes notifying me when they need some time to take care of themselves and their families. It is extremely important that we create a culture where the team feels supported and has the flexibility to be successful in work and home. Vacations are encouraged and respected. They should be a time to step away and decompress. Weekends are family time. At HealthyWomen, we practice what we preach, making sure we take care of ourselves and prioritize health and mental well-being.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?
Blocking off time on your calendar for family and self-care is so important. My son cherishes the time we sit and have lunch together, providing that undivided attention before I head back into my home office. I have three “late days” where I do the bulk of my client calls, team meetings and one-on-ones. The two remaining days I block off so that I can have a flexible schedule and take care of myself — even if it’s just a 20-minute run.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- More productive time. Many of us have extra time at home. Use it to do something that has been on that to-do list for months: clean out the basement, take up cooking, read a book, learn a new language or learn to play an instrument.
- Acts of kindness. During the last few months, it’s been amazing to watch small acts of kindness from complete strangers. I remember one evening, walking out of the hospital to a parade of flashing lights, firetrucks and police cars, and people holding up signs and clapping for us. It was such a heartwarming moment and truly gave us the energy we needed to continue. I’ve also seen volunteers turn out in record numbers to deliver food and medicine to the elderly.
- Creativity. It has been fun to come up with new games, science experiments and backyard Ninja Warrior courses. Plus, I have introduced my son to the classic card games and board games of my youth.
- Family time. Having everyone around the table for more than one or two nights a week has been the biggest positive from this pandemic. We’ve also enjoyed evening bike rides, neighborhood walks and family movie nights.
- Being intentional. This quarantine and pandemic have shown a light on how fragile life is. Being quarantined has provided us a chance to be even more intentional with how we use our time, energy and words.
From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Make someone laugh, whether an old memory, joke, funny saying or picture. I would also recommend exercise, because even a short walk each day can help reduce stress and anxiety. Talk less and listen more. Sometimes people just need to have someone listen to them. Focus on what you can control, such as what you watch, what you eat, who you speak with. Follow a normal routine as much as possible — waking up at the same time, getting dressed and out of your sweatpants. As my mother says, “When you look good, you feel good.”
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” — C.S. Lewis
This quote is a great reminder to me that you can restart. For me, if something does not work out the way I had planned or if I make a mistake, I can take it in a different direction to reach the desired ending.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!