I arrived at the Rock Health XX Retreat, not knowing what to expect. Having earlier in my career prospered in two male-dominated professions, dentistry and Wall Street, I have of course been active in women’s networking events. I started a chapter of the Women in Dentistry and won a Young Careerist award from a Culver City Professional Women’s group. Although as a dentist, I enjoyed the camaraderie of other women, I did not garner any role models or find female mentors during my Wall Street career.

Thus, the XX Retreat was a pleasant upside surprise, since it featured multicultural, multigenerational, and interdisciplinary collaboration, all focused on rewriting the story of healthcare.

Inspirational talks by Sue Siegel, CEO of GE Healthymagination, and Kim Popovits, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Genomic Health, set the stage. A highlight was the moving story of Dr. Hannah Valantine: how her early interest in science in her native Gambia brought her to London and then to Stanford, where she is now Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Senior Associate Dean for Diversity and Leadership.

Overall, the meeting was about generating ideas, problem-solving and learning how to get the job done.

The panel discussions offered something for everyone trying to improve our healthcare ecosystem. Topics ranged from Health Navigators: Virtual and Live Coaches for Optimized Wellbeing, Personalized Medicine–Implications for the Healthcare Ecosystem, to Big Data–Big Impact?

“Pro-tips” were timely bits of group wisdom crafted to help each of us adapt to our rapidly changing world. Tips included help with understanding why we do what we do, accepting failure, and giving ourselves time to think and reflect. Other tips were on successful career changes, how to stumble on a great idea, and how to get more girls and women interested in science and technology.

The mix of highly accomplished professionals kept me thinking about important issues all day. I was especially inspired by those who are rewriting the “rules of professional engagement.”

Rachel Kalmar: lending a spirit of adventure by inviting us on a rock climb, she led a sensor group and is now a data scientist at Misfit Wearables.

Nancy Dougherty: giving engineering a sense of panache, first at Proteus and now at Sano Intelligence.

Monisha Perkash: whose gracious warmth makes leading her second start-up, Lumoback, look easy.

I went back to my SF apartment, put on my Rock sweat shirt and woke up the next morning with new inspiration that “anything is possible.” As I looked at the view of the San Francisco Bay, reflecting upon my multiple career journey  and the new choices ahead, I said to myself, “if not now, when?”

What do you think of the choices ahead?

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