For over 30 years, Myrtle Potter has dedicated her talents and expertise to serving the healthcare needs of millions of consumers through her leadership within some of the healthcare industry’s most notable companies. The former vice president at Merck; president at Bristol-Myers Squibb; and president and CEO of Genetech is also a best-selling author. Today, she continues to drive the conversation of quality healthcare as founder and CEO of Myrtle Potter and Company, LLC, a company born out of her experience with a life-threatening illness.
While recovering from a serious horseback riding accident, Potter was given a medication to stop the development of scar tissue in her shoulder. “Without me knowing it, I would later learn that I was deathly allergic to that medication. I ended up with a failing liver, failing lungs and total kidney failure. I was hospitalized for a quite a bit of time and literally almost died at the age of forty-six,” she says.
“From my own experience, even as much as I knew about healthcare, I really struggled at times to control the direction of my care and to make sure that my situation, which was very, very dire, was dealt with in a way that would save my life.”
Troubled by the question of what does someone do who does not have the same knowledge of the healthcare industry and access to resources, Potter made it her life’s work to be a trusted resource and advocate for patients.
Potter admits that transitioning from the corporate world to being an entrepreneur was not as easy as she initially thought, but she quickly learned from her earlier mistakes and maintains her track record of leading businesses to success.
The accomplishment she is most proud of, however, is, “raising two wonderful, responsible, loving adults.” Growing up in a large family as one of five children, Potter credits her own parents for inspiring her success.
“My parents were an incredible inspiration to me. I was blessed with a stable family. People underestimate the value of a stable family, with a mom and a dad and love and support, even if you don’t have any money. All of those other things make such a huge difference. “
As a self-professed life-long learner, Potter believes that’s the biggest thing you can do to be successful. She says, “If you think you’ve mastered something, the life-long learner asks the question, ‘Well, what next is there for me to master and understand?’”
Congratulations, Myrtle Potter, for being one of the “Top Blacks in Healthcare” 2014!