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Lisa Pecora

VP Global Finance

NuVasive

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You’ve got to trust in your heart that you can do absolutely anything.

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WHAT DO YOU DO?

I lead global financial planning for NuVasive, where we are transforming spine surgery to improve procedures and drive more predictable outcomes. I manage teams of financial professionals across the world to partner with business leaders to form our long-term strategy, while also meeting short-term financial objectives that enable us to maximize our investments into innovation. I love working with such a diverse team all united around their passion to advance care and improve patient lives.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?

After completing my MBA, I managed financial planning for the circus, which is so much more than clowning around! I loved the complexity of the set builds, logistics, people and partners required to bring smiles to children’s faces all over the world. Then I found the medical device industry and realized I could juggle the same level of complexity towards solutions that save lives. As a child, puzzles were one of my favorite activities, and I’m thrilled to have found a career that allows me to collaborate with so many like-minded people towards piecing together positive outcomes for patients.

HOW DO/DID YOU TACKLE OBSTACLES?

When I was in college, my walk from the car to class each day was quite far and there was often horrible weather. I’d schedule my classes in the morning and work in the afternoon, so I’d always be wearing a suit and heels. When the weather was bad, I’d imagine myself in war with it, I’d put my head down, take one step at a time, and battle through it. Ever since, when obstacles approach, I remember that mile-long walk in the nasty weather in stilettoes.

When I was thirty-two years old, I was in the middle of launching a new global operating model at a large medical device company when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Having no family history, it was quite a shock to learn that I had to shift my primary priority away from work and towards battling an aggressive cancer, over which I had very little control. It was the same as the walk on college campus, I put my head down and took one small step at a time, but this time around, I also learned to lean on those around me. We don’t always have to be fiercely independent in the storm alone. Throughout my treatment, I continued my work, but I let co-workers and family help me along the way. I was also fortunate to work for an incredible company, where our medical devices were critical components of my treatment pathway. I learned deeper gratitude for our products and the depth of relationships, both personally and professionally, that vulnerability can breed.

WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT & THINK, "I WISH YOUNGER ME WOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WAS POSSIBLE?"

Growing up, my mom worked 100-hour weeks and my dad worked long hours as well. My grandparents were my main care providers and they grew up on farms in Alabama and then worked both day and night shifts in Baltimore factories up through retirement. These role models instilled in me massive work ethic, for which I’m eternally grateful. But I wish I would have understood earlier that my worth wasn’t completely dependent on the number of hours invested. I’ve learned that building relationships and working smart is much more scalable than burning countless hours, and that I’m just as worthy of a positive outcome if I spend 1 hour on a task as if I spend 1 month.

WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING IN STEM?

I get to work with like-minded people who are super smart and passionate about improving lives in a very tangible way. It’s fun to rely upon and absorb diversity when it’s grounded in this common goal. I’m in awe of society’s progress and love being part of driving innovation that touches people so broadly and positively.

BEST ADVICE FOR NEXT GENERATION?

You’ve got to trust in your heart that you can do absolutely anything. The most difficult part is deciding what inspires you. I like to solve puzzles, make complex things simple and drive improvement. Notice these things are more about the “why” than the “what”. Focus on your why and let the details figure themselves out.

INSPIRATION

“Imagination is everything, it is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” Albert Einstein