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7 Questions on Leadership with Fatimah Muhammad

Name: Fatimah Muhammad

Title: Director of 340B pharmaceutical services in drug reimbursement

Organisation: Saint Peter’s University Hospital

Fatimah Muhammad is a highly experienced professional in the fields of pharmacy, public health, and professional research. Currently serving as the 340B Pharmaceutical Services Program Director at Saint Peter’s University Hospital, she oversees all projects related to the 340B program and Drug Reimbursement. With her extensive knowledge and background, Fatimah plays a crucial role in ensuring that pharmacies adhere to compliance regulations and expand the 340B pharmaceutical services program to reach every patient, thereby ensuring accessibility and affordability of vital medications and healthcare services.

Fatimah served as a Board member for the HFMA NJ chapter and as chair of the Compliance, Audit, Risk, and Ethics (CARE) Committee. In these roles, she actively promoted awareness of compliance, ethics, and governance through monthly meetings, informative education sessions, and expanding networking opportunities. By fostering open discussions among all providers along the continuum of care, Fatimah helped address the pressing issues in today’s ever-changing healthcare environment.

Fatimah is widely recognized for her excellence in mentorship, leadership, and active community engagement. She initiated and successfully spearheaded a mentorship program at Saint Peter’s University Hospital, aimed at cultivating future business healthcare leaders. Additionally, Fatimah is an active member of the Opioid Task Force at Saint Peter’s University Hospital, demonstrating her commitment to addressing the urgent challenges related to opioid use and addiction.

Outside of her professional endeavors, Fatimah dedicates her time to volunteer efforts focused on eradicating female mortality and comorbidity. Through her involvement in these initiatives, she works towards increasing awareness for health equity and advocating for equal access to quality healthcare for all individuals.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Fatimah's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

The most challenging aspects of being a leader in the roles of a Pharmaceutical Service Director and a public health leader are:

1. Balancing multiple responsibilities: As a leader in both the pharmaceutical service industry and public health, it can be challenging to balance the various responsibilities and demands that come with each role. This includes overseeing the operations and strategic direction of your department or organization, managing a mentor program, advocating for underrepresented communities, and ensuring the creation of future leaders.

2. Navigating complex regulations and policies: The pharmaceutical industry is highly regulated, and staying updated with the ever-evolving regulations, policies, and compliance requirements can be daunting. It requires careful attention to detail and a commitment to ensuring that your organization operates in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.

3. Addressing diverse stakeholder needs: Being a leader in public health and advocating for black maternal challenges means that you have to take into account the diverse needs and perspectives of various stakeholders. This includes community members, healthcare providers, policymakers, and advocacy groups. Understanding and addressing these different perspectives while working towards common goals can be a delicate balancing act.

4. Developing future leaders: Creating a pipeline of future leaders and ensuring their development is a crucial aspect of leadership. This involves identifying and nurturing talent within your organization, providing mentoring and professional growth opportunities, and fostering a culture of continuous learning and development.

Overall, as a leader in these roles, the key challenges lie in managing multiple responsibilities, staying updated with regulations, addressing diverse stakeholder needs, and fostering the development of future leaders

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

From the start of my career, I knew I had a drive and determination that set me apart. Whenever I would bring home a 98% my father would ask where is the other 2%. Being my best was instilled in me. I was always willing to put in the hard work and effort to achieve my goals. I never shied away from challenges, instead, I embraced them as opportunities for growth. This unwavering commitment to success became a defining trait of my leadership journey.

As I progressed in my career, I realized the importance of being a team player. I understood that true leadership is not just about individual accomplishments, but also about inspiring and supporting others. I strived to create a collaborative environment where everyone felt valued and motivated. I offered guidance and assistance to my teammates whenever needed, fostering a sense of unity and cooperation.

One aspect that set me apart was my consistent pursuit of excellence. I never settled for mediocrity, always striving to deliver high-quality work. Attention to detail, problem-solving skills, and critical thinking became my trademarks. This commitment to excellence gained the respect and admiration of my colleagues, who often looked up to me as a role model.

But leadership isn't just about personal achievements – it's about empowering others too. I took it upon myself to share my knowledge and expertise with my teams. I mentored and supported those around me, helping them develop their skills and reach their full potential. Seeing their growth and success was incredibly rewarding and fueled my passion to continue making a positive impact.

Throughout my journey, I've had the privilege of working with a few amazing leaders who recognized my endurance, potential,passion, compassion, and ability to actively listen. They saw in me the qualities of a leader and provided opportunities for growth. Their trust and belief in my abilities further fueled my drive to succeed.

As my leadership journey continues, I remain dedicated to learning and growing. I understand that leadership is a lifelong journey that requires constant self-improvement and adaptability. I'm excited to see where this path leads me and the positive impact I can make on those around me.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I wake up at 5 AM and start my day with a prayer to center myself. After that, I dedicate an hour to a rigorous workout session, which helps me stay physically and mentally fit.

Once I'm done with my workout, I make myself a delicious Mediterranean breakfast along with a refreshing cafe con leche. While having my breakfast, I take some time to get an update on the stock market and listen to NPR to stay informed about current events.

After breakfast, I have the pleasure of taking my beautiful daughter to school. It's always a joy spending some quality time with her in the morning. Once she's dropped off, I head straight to the office.

When I arrive at the office, I start my day by having a brief meeting with my team, where we discuss our goals and priorities for the day. Then, I jump into a series of meetings, working with my team and collaborating with colleagues.

Throughout the day, I also make it a point to allocate time for meetings with my outstanding interns, as they are the future healthcare leaders of tomorrow and their growth is a top priority for me. Additionally, depending on the day, I may have a few committee meetings where I contribute to important decisions and initiatives.

Sometimes, my work in the office extends into the late evening, as I strive to give my best to my responsibilities. However, when I finally get home, my focus shifts entirely to my family. I make sure to give them my undivided attention, cherishing the moments spent together.

One of the things I love to do before my daughter goes to sleep is let her read to me. It not only strengthens our bond but also fuels my passion for reading. After she falls asleep, I spend some time reading and working on a few personal projects before I eventually go to bed.

Before I sleep, I take a moment to pray, expressing gratitude for the day and seeking guidance for the next one. And then, I drift off to sleep, knowing that the next day will bring new opportunities and challenges for me to embrace.

It's worth mentioning that amidst my busy schedule, I always make sure to dedicate a minimum of two hours each day to reading. It's a habit that fuels my personal growth and expands my knowledge in various areas.

That's a glimpse into my daily routine, which revolves around balancing work, family, and personal growth. Each day presents its own unique experiences, and I strive to make the most of them all.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

A constant reminder from my father and leadership lesson that has resonated with me is the value of continuous learning and development. Great leaders understand that they must constantly seek knowledge, develop new skills, and stay up-to-date with current trends and industry advancements. By investing in your own growth and encouraging learning within your team, you can inspire innovation, improve performance, and stay ahead in a competitive landscape.

Ultimately, leadership is a lifelong journey, and there are always new lessons to be learned. It's important to reflect on your experiences, seek feedback from others, and be open to personal growth and improvement as a leader.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

The book that has had a profound impact on my leadership journey is "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell. This book explores the factors that contribute to extraordinary success and challenges the traditional notion of individual achievement being solely based on talent and hard work.

Reading "Outliers" provided me with a fresh perspective on the role of opportunity, cultural background, and timing in shaping one's leadership trajectory. My father introduced me to the 10000 rule first, however the book intrigued me as an adult to the concept of the "10,000-hour rule," which suggests that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become truly exceptional at something. This idea made me realize the importance of consistent effort and persistence in honing my leadership skills.

Moreover, "Outliers" shed light on the significance of cultural legacies and socio-economic backgrounds in influencing a person's chances of success. It emphasized the notion that success is not solely an individual accomplishment but often a result of fortunate circumstances and collective efforts. This understanding greatly humbled me and prompted me to reflect on the importance of creating an inclusive and supportive environment for my team members, irrespective of their backgrounds.

Furthermore, the book emphasized the idea of seizing opportunities and being prepared when they arise. It reminded me that as a leader, it is essential to identify and leverage these opportunities to foster growth and development. This mindset shift encouraged me to be more proactive in seeking out new challenges and taking calculated risks.

Overall, "Outliers" deeply impacted my leadership approach by teaching me the value of continuous learning, embracing diversity, and being ready to seize opportunities. It inspired me to cultivate a growth mindset, recognize the power of collective success, and constantly strive for excellence not only for myself but also for the individuals I lead. I recommend this book to all my mentees.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

If I could give one piece of advice to a young leader, it would be this: never stop learning and growing. Leadership is a journey, and it requires constant adaptation and improvement. Embrace every opportunity to expand your knowledge, develop new skills, and gain diverse perspectives.

Invest in your personal and professional development. Seek out mentors who can guide you and offer valuable insights. Read books, attend seminars, and engage in continuous learning experiences. The more you invest in yourself, the better equipped you'll be to lead others effectively.

Don't be afraid to make mistakes and learn from them. Failure is not a setback; it's an opportunity for growth. Embrace the lessons learned from your failures and use them to become a better leader. Surround yourself with a supportive network of peers and colleagues who can provide constructive feedback and help you navigate challenges.

Additionally, always lead with integrity and authenticity. Your team will look up to you as a role model, so it's important to demonstrate honesty, transparency, and ethical behavior. Build trust by being consistent in your words and actions, and prioritize open communication with your team.

Finally, remember that leadership is not about personal glory or power; it's about serving others and empowering them to reach their full potential. Take the time to understand the strengths, needs, and aspirations of your team members. Support and nurture their growth, providing them with the tools and resources they need to succeed.

By continuously learning, leading with integrity, and prioritizing the growth of others, you'll be well on your way to becoming a successful and impactful leader. Never underestimate the power you have to inspire and make a positive difference in the lives of those you lead.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

As a leader, one meaningful story that comes to mind is when I first started leading a team in my previous organization. When I took over the team, I noticed that many of my team members felt unappreciated and undervalued. They expressed to me that they had never been given the opportunity to expand their growth or knowledge in their previous roles.

I made it a priority to create a culture of learning and development within our team. I started by holding regular one-on-one meetings with each team member to understand their goals, aspirations, and areas of interest. I was genuinely interested in their professional growth and wanted to create an environment where they could thrive.

I began by organizing training sessions and workshops to enhance the skills and knowledge of my team members. I also encouraged them to attend external conferences and seminars to broaden their perspectives. By providing these opportunities, I wanted them to know that their growth was important to me and the organization.

But it wasn't just about formal training and development. I also made sure to actively listen to their ideas and include their input in decision-making processes. I fostered an open and collaborative environment where everyone's thoughts were valued. I would often have brainstorming sessions where team members could freely share their ideas and suggestions.

Over time, I could see the positive impact of these efforts. My team members became more engaged, motivated, and confident in their abilities. They started taking ownership of their work and pushing themselves to reach new heights. The trust and respect within the team grew stronger as they saw that I genuinely cared about their growth and success.

It was incredibly rewarding to witness the transformation in my team members. They went from feeling overlooked and unheard to feeling empowered and valued. Seeing them flourish and achieve personal and professional milestones was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my leadership journey.

This story serves as a reminder of the immense impact leaders can have on their team members' lives. By providing the opportunity for growth, knowledge, and inclusion, we can unleash their potential and create a thriving work environment.

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