I am ASCPT: Michelle Johnson

Author: [AUTHOR] Published on 10/1/2023 12:00:00 AM

Michelle Johnson
Michelle Johnson, MBA, CEO, Metrum Research Group, Tariffville, CT

What is the most important leadership lesson you have learned the hard way?
I have learned that strong leaders take risks. If I want to reach my potential as a leader and truly have an impact, I cannot play it safe. Several years ago, I realized that my professional success to that point was limited because I was motivated by avoiding failure. I was choosing jobs and projects that leveraged my strengths and had a high probability of success. The problem? These roles and activities were not stretching me, not helping me grow; I was hitting a ceiling. Through mentorship and coaching, I realized that I tend to be risk-averse and make decisions that favor safety. As I continue to grow as a leader, I am trying to challenge this part of myself. Avoiding risk is safe, but it also constrains innovation, creativity, and growth. As Ginni Rometty, the former CEO of IBM says, “Growth and comfort do not coexist.”

Who has inspired you in your career?
I have been blessed by amazing mentors and leaders throughout my career. I have always admired those who are deeply passionate about what they do. Purpose-driven entrepreneurs are particularly inspiring to me because they feel so strongly about their vision that they want to share it with the world. They make sacrifices and go all in to execute their vision. They think outside the box, challenge the status quo, and are driven by their “why.” Marc Gastonguay, the co-founder of MetrumRG, is a purpose-driven entrepreneur who exhibits these traits. Over the years, I have witnessed firsthand how he drives change and makes hard decisions while grounded in the mission and guiding principles of our company.

What has been the greatest challenge in your career?
I am driven by a good challenge, which has led me to do things like move to China to teach a marketing course and run for public office. These pursuits require a sense of relentless curiosity and a healthy dose of humility. I love learning new things from passionate people, which is one of the reasons I decided to take on the challenge of transitioning my career to Life Sciences in 2015. I knew it would be a massive change; I would need to learn a new vernacular and new concepts, figure out how different parts of the ecosystem connect, and discover where I could provide value and make a difference. I had to be comfortable asking questions, even when the answers seemed obvious to some, and spend extra time studying the fundamentals. The first several years were humbling and I was constantly in learning mode. In fact, I am still in learning mode, which is one of the aspects of the MetrumRG culture I appreciate the most; we are driven by learning new things.

How do you keep focused and motivated?
Whenever I get stuck or lack motivation, I always go back to the “why.” I am one of those people who is deeply driven by the purpose behind what I am doing. I ask myself questions such as why am I doing this? Why is this important? Why does this matter? Anchoring on “why” has been essential in motivating others as well. Here at MetrumRG, we are all driven by our mission to improve health and defeat disease. When struggling to find motivation, it is not uncommon for our team to stop what we are doing and remind ourselves of the patients and caregivers who could benefit from the work we do.

What was your childhood dream job?
Throughout junior high school, I dreamed of being a broadcaster. I loved the idea of working in a fast-paced, thrilling environment. At the time, TV reporters did not seem to have strong regional accents, so I worked really hard to lose my Boston accent, which was wicked thick back then! I did have the opportunity to explore roles in TV and radio during my college year, but in the end, I decided I was not destined to be reporting the nightly news alongside Peter Jennings.

Michelle has been a member of ASCPT since 2022.

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