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Doing Well While Doing Good: How This CEO Is Using Her Business Acumen to Help Women

women fighting breast cancer

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Right now, more than 50 million American women belong to the age group associated with menopause. Gerianne Tringali DiPiano sees that demographic as representing both a need and an opportunity. The President and CEO of FemmePharma Global Healthcare and FemmePharma Consumer Healthcare, LLC has made a three-decade career out of addressing women’s health issues often ignored by the pharmaceutical industry at large. Her efforts have also benefited a specific community: breast cancer patients and survivors.

This November, the executive will receive The Founders Award from Living Beyond Breast Cancer — the highest honor presented by the nonprofit — for her work, including a newly launched consumer line. We sat down with Gerianne to talk about women’s health, entrepreneurship and the lessons she learned while earning her MBA and serving as a trustee associate at Saint Joseph’s University.

What did you set out to accomplish with FemmePharma?

FemmePharma is a company I started in 1999. We were focused on conditions women experience that compromise their quality of life, such as endometriosis and overactive bladder. Women’s health is so important and so underserved. Very little has changed over the years I’ve run and led this business. We want our women to have the opportunity to avoid what I commonly refer to as the “aisle of shame in a sea of pink” — the embarrassment factor of walking into a pharmacy and being completely confused by the pink, purple and green products. This is what women have been confronted with for years. The products are largely inelegant and they don’t meet women where they are. We’re about to change all of that.

How has FemmePharma been working with the breast cancer community?

Menopause is one of the major areas of focus for FemmePharma consumer healthcare. Women who are going through breast cancer treatment or have undergone treatment may be placed in chemical menopause even if they are not in natural menopause — and one may imagine the symptoms are not trivial. The last thing that they want is another prescription or another reason to visit the physician. So, when we look at that specific population, we look at ways to address individual symptoms of chemical and natural menopause.

gerianne dipiano

Gerianne DiPiano / Courtesy

You mentioned earlier that little has changed since you started FemmePharma. What do you want to see change and how do you want to get there?

When we hear about women’s health, we hear, “Women are 51% of the population. Why aren’t we doing more?” Well actually, that’s sort of true depending upon the demographic. As women age, we are the demographic. We are the ones making the decisions and we control the spending. It’s my hope that many women will do exactly what I chose to do, and that is to leave the comfort of the multinational pharma companies and trail blaze on their own — to have the confidence to do what we know is the right thing to do and focus on basic health needs for women.

How do you hope your experience can influence future leaders?

I’ve served as a trustee associate at Saint Joseph’s University for a number of years and I also participate in the Mentor Connect program through the Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies (PACT). It’s my goal to mentor young women, particularly those who decide to become entrepreneurs. With some of the hard knocks that I have had over the years and some of the great successes I’ve been blessed with, I hope to impart a little bit of that knowledge.

What’s a lesson you’ve learned that you’d want to pass onto others?

I always remember that whatever I’m doing, this is something that may change the life of someone — mother, daughter, sister, friend, child. It really comes down to what I learned when I did my graduate work at Saint Joseph’s, having ethics in the situation and having that moral compass to direct you.

Looking towards the future, what’s next for you?

Growing this business, continuing to bring more products to meet women where they are and dealing with their conditions, whether it’s breast cancer or endometriosis or chronic illness. I want to change the face of those treatment options and deliver the difference.

Inspired to make a change? Learn more about Saint Joseph’s University and its MBA program here.