PM360 recently spoke to Adrienne Robinson, Director of Business Affairs & Alliance Management at Merck about her volunteer commitments.
PM360: Adrienne, please tell us about the two organizations with which you volunteer?
Robinson: Soroptimists is a volunteer organization working to improve the lives of women and girls throughout the world. Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association is focused on providing a platform for developing and advancing professional women in healthcare. I have been involved with both of these organizations over the last seven years, and as my three sons grew up and are now out of the house, I have become more involved in a leadership capacity.
What makes you passionate about what you do for women and girls?
I heard a quote that stuck with me. It reads, “Talent is universal, but opportunity is not.” It has always been important to me to help give others a voice and opportunity. I had this dichotomous childhood in which I lived in a very poor neighborhood for a good part of my formative years and then in one of the richest neighborhoods as a teenager.
One thing was clear to me: That we do come into this world in the same way, but what makes each of us different is that we are given different opportunities to succeed. I want to do my part to make sure that opportunity isn’t only given to the fortunate, but to those who are willing to do the hard work to succeed. They should not be precluded because of means, race or class.
How has your involvement evolved over the years?
I’ve always believed that if you want to improve the situation around you, you can’t just talk about it—you must take action in the way you can. As my children got older and my leadership grew, I’ve gravitated to leadership roles as I feel this is where I can have the greatest impact.
Were you inspired by someone to get involved with these organizations?
When I worked at P&G, I worked for a woman named Maryanne Gale who was an absolute trailblazer. She was a lot of “firsts” for P&G—being the first female Plant Manager, First Division Head, and first VP in the Product Supply Organization. What I found so inspiring was she was not only a fabulous mother involved in the community, but also a dedicated professional who was great at what she did and took many risks to drive the business. At the same time, she found it important to extend her support and availability to the women leaders in the division to create a development and support community for them. She taught me that you can juggle a lot of balls in the air if you put your passion behind what you do, and that most importantly, the world is bigger than just you, so don’t hold back in sharing your gifts.
Wow, this is truly inspiring. What else do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I enjoy helping my sons in their educational and professional endeavors. My middle son is launching a new entrepreneurial venture and I love coaching him through that process. I also enjoy walks with my husband and four dogs, reading, and kayaking on weekends.
We understand you recently received a fellowship from your company to work with and help disadvantaged women abroad.
Yes, I am really excited for a new adventure that I will be embarking on as a Fellow for the Richard T. Clark Fellowship for World Health presented by Merck. I will be leaving in September for a three-month assignment in India working on an exciting project to conduct a feasibility study on a new technology to monitor maternal health for women who don’t have local access to doctors and clinics. I’m thrilled to have the chance to work directly in the field with patients who don’t have access to basic healthcare and better understand the challenges they face—and how companies like mine can better serve their needs.