Meeghan De Cagna is the type of leader who puts others’ needs before her own. No matter the situation, she executes her servant-leadership style with grace and humility, always making time to brainstorm with her colleagues and discuss creative solutions. In her role as Chief Strategic Partnerships Officer at the Endocrine Society, Meeghan leads strategic growth through the development of programs and key relationships with the Society.
Meeghan’s story is the final installment of our Women in Leadership Series, where we’ve spotlighted innovative women in leadership positions who are paving the way in their association or company. They offer insight into their careers, tips for women starting out and their “secret sauce” ingredients for getting where they are today.
Meeghan De Cagna → Chief Strategic Partnerships Officer, Endocrine Society
Q: What is your current position and how long have you been in your field?
A: I currently have the great good fortune to serve as the Chief Strategic Partnerships Officer at the Endocrine Society—the largest professional organization in the world for scientists and clinicians who work in the areas of endocrine diseases and disorders. The field of endocrinology is quite broad covering some of the world’s most challenging diseases, including diabetes and obesity, to the rarest diseases, such as acromegaly or Cushing’s Syndrome.
My specific role is to lead strategic growth through the development of programs and key relationships with Society supporters such as academia, industry, foundations, government and regulatory bodies, and patients. I’ve been a working professional for 25 years and a Society staff member for 2.5 years.
Q: Who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader and how did he/she affect your leadership style?
A: I’ve been fortunate to have several mentors in my personal and professional life and each of these key relationships have influenced my leadership style. Professionally, for more than 18 years, I worked for a woman named Barbara Harris, and she had the greatest influence on me—going from a young woman and recent college graduate to a seasoned executive over the course of those years truly shaped me.
More than anything, Barbara taught me about being resilient and championing other women. She taught me that you can make a major career shift mid-life and have an extraordinary “second act.” I’m in the midst of my second act right now; I never would have dreamed that I would come into the association world or healthcare and yet here I am, doing work that I love and am passionate about. It’s that passion for the work that fuels my performance and my leadership.
Q: What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?
A: I’ve learned so many, but servant-leadership is what resonates with me. Service, advocacy and putting others’ needs before my own. I strive to lead with grace and humility, listening before speaking, having high expectations of myself and my staff, learning from but also forgiving failures.
Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?
A: Don’t view failure as a character flaw. Trust your talent, your intellect, your resourcefulness. You are so much more than you think you are.
Q: What strategies would you recommend to women who are trying to achieve a more prominent role in their organization?
A: Find mentors within your organization and outside of it. Be clear about what you’d like to learn, recognize that your professional growth and development is your responsibility. Don’t get caught up in titles, how large your staff is, what the organizational chart looks like or office gossip. Focus on the breadth and scope of the work you are doing. Become someone who cultivates relationships, connects people and opportunities. Lastly, keep your word.
Q: What is your secret sauce?
A:Two ingredients in my secret sauce for life:
- Live in a state of gratitude for all the experiences, the successes, the failures. I find that gratitude leads to learning and growth, it challenges you to reflect, to seek insight from others and to find the positive, always.
- Have an insatiable curiosity every day to learn something new.