Is Finding Your Tribe a Cliché or a Breakthrough?

by Jeanmarie Tenuto

Is the idea of finding a Tribe cliché or provocative? It’s human nature to strive to belong to small groups defined by commonalities with purpose, intention, and understanding. Margaret Mead aside, the key phrase in the anthropological definition is wanting to belong. Belonging helps create self-identity. Abraham Maslow would be very pleased, as he wrote at length about self-fulfilling prophecies and how they relate to our social nature of belonging. The idea of a Tribe has a few connotations but the feeling of belonging is its commonality.

The more common usage of Tribe nowadays is as a descriptive for a makeshift family. Although this suggests a connection to emotional support, Tribe in this context may not advance our career growth and goals. There is nothing wrong with that Tribe concept, which is more aligned with burritos, beer, and getting through bad relationships with an I Love You, Man vibe. However, the Tribe that has a larger scope of expanded networks with strong alignments to a like-minded community (ie, career) opens opportunities to thrive rather than just survive. The Tribe brings a sense of belonging whether you are a seasoned professional or just beginning on your career path. Tribe with a capital T can provide support to help you reach goals and can influence certain events.

For anyone in our industry looking to cultivate their careers and connect with industry leaders, the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) offers the opportunity to be elbow-to-elbow with some of the most intelligent and professionally accomplished women (and men) in our field. We are based in one of the most prominent locations for pharmaceutical research, development, manufacturing, and distribution. Membership in the HBA affords those in the New York metropolitan area (and across the country) the opportunity to gather regularly with thought leaders to exchange ideas, network, and learn from each other as we all continue to navigate through the ongoing shifts within the healthcare marketing arena.

Ogilvy Health has spent years cultivating itself as a learning organization and in doing so has made it a mission to help educate employees and clients alike in subjects that are vital to continued growth in the industry. Through the Ogilvy Health Women’s Leadership Professional Network (WLPN) and the HBA, it’s been incredibly helpful to find resources to augment that mission. I have seen firsthand how both groups afford members the ability to further career advancements through mentoring programs, strong business networks, education, research, advocacy, and recognition for individuals and companies.

Each HBA event that I have attended has been unique. With room for nuances from the hosts, the topic is always relevant, providing attendees with new insights and exposure to industry thought leadership, and the personality of the guest speakers helps to keep things lively and informative. The most common thread of each event I have attended is the humility and approachability of the host and the speakers. Extraordinary people doing extraordinary things participate in HBA events to share their stories with both patience and a listening ear. They solidify their positions as industry leaders in the eyes of their audience members by soliciting input, admitting mistakes, showing a willingness to change course when needed, and at times acknowledging their own vulnerabilities.

  • During an HBA event I attended at Pfizer in New York, Bahija Jallal, PhD, the CEO for Immunocore (and 2017 HBA Woman of the Year), discussed the many challenges she has faced in her career, all of which helped her grow into the role she holds today. She attributed her success primarily to the mentorship of those who were willing to take her under their wing and an increasing openness to diversity in her field.
  • At Microsoft, a panel of experts from Amgen and Microsoft gave insights into the advancements, successes, and challenges of AI in medicine, drug discovery, and the legal and ethical considerations that have arisen along the way.
  • During the 2019 HBA Woman of the Year event at the New York Marriott Marquis, a large group of us, along with 2,000 other women and men in our industry, celebrated Ogilvy Health’s Rising Star Bridget Mabey, Associate Creative Director, and a variety of amazing stars from our industry. In her acceptance speech for 2019 HBA Woman of the Year, Sharon Callahan, PhD, stated “Go find your Tribe, celebrate them, be who you are, see what’s possible, and lead with love.”

Having experienced the HBA educational and networking events, collaborations, and friendships, it’s clear to me that strongly aligning with the HBA and other empowering groups like Ogilvy Health’s WLPN can be a breakthrough opportunity for anyone looking to find a community of like-minded others, or a Tribe. Each event I have attended has instilled in me a sense of belonging. The icing on the cake is that I have had the opportunity to make connections and learn from people who continue to have an exceptionally positive impact on this fast-moving, ever-evolving industry. I know the benefits of these connections will be with me for a lifetime.

If you are looking for a Tribe, I assure you a good start is on the Careers section of the Ogilvy Health and/or the HBA website.

Jeanmarie Tenuto is the Director of Digital Strategy for the Point of Care team at Ogilvy Health and was recently appointed as the Director-at-Large, Membership and Volunteer Engagement, for the HBA Northern New Jersey Chapter.

To continue the conversation, please reach out to Jeanmarie Tenuto at