THE BLOG
10/17/2014 11:24 am ET Updated Dec 17, 2014

Women in Business: Mary Page Platerink CEO & Founder of First Aid Shot Therapy

To understand the First Aid Shot Therapy Company, look no further than it's founder - Mary Page Platerink. Mary Page has worked in multiple international businesses (The Coca-Cola Company and Fujistu Services) and is known for her passion, leadership skills, and integrity. She is a visionary thinker, who combines a unique ability to see new business opportunities, with a relentless drive to make things happen. Mary Page believes in seeking out the best resource in every field, and enlisting them in her vision - to provide a better solution and better experience for consumers as they manage their day to day health needs.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Growing up with brothers, I learned two important lessons that have influenced my leadership style: persevere and "be a girl." My brothers and I loved to snow ski, and I was determined to be just as good a skier as they were. Frustratingly though, I often found the cold to be unbearable. My feet would be frozen at times and my brothers would tease me about how the cold bothered me. "Don't be such a girl," was their favorite way to chastise me back onto the slopes. As a result, I never stayed behind - if they were skiing, I was skiing! I was determined to persevere and as a result, I learned to ski really well. At first I tried to power my way down the mountain with the brute force my brothers showed, but one year, we took a lesson from a female instructor, who was a fabulous skier-- better than my brothers. At one point she pulled me aside and asked me why I fought the mountain so hard. She encouraged me to be more graceful in my skiing, to "be a girl." That simple piece of advice transformed the way I felt about skiing - it is much more effortless now - and that's how I also embrace my leadership style.

Today, my goal is to lead by example. I roll my sleeves up and persevere through obstacles big and small. And while I fight everyday for success, I try to be a bit more graceful in that fight.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position at First Aid Shot Therapy (FAST)?
My most relevant experience prior to FAST was as Director of Global Strategic Planning at The Coca-Cola Company. The complexity of brand, geography, customer, supply chain and distribution within the beverage business was quite different from the software and services business I had helped transform as Director of Strategy at Fujitsu Services. In the strategic planning role at Coke, however, my responsibility was to run a process designed to identify the organic growth opportunities within the company over the next 3-5 years. Through working with the different business unit owners to design the strategic planning process, I was exposed to Coke's business from many different perspectives. And when the company acquired Glaceau to drive transformational growth, I had the unusual fortune to see how a company like Coke thinks about value in a young business. The learning I had at Coke certainly influences decisions I make at FAST, but I have found that nothing prepares you for the challenges of starting a new business from scratch.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at FAST?
If not every day, every week at FAST is a roller coaster. The high of getting a new product through FDA validation requirements will immediately lead to the unbelievable frustration that the truck delivering the product to the customer who wanted to put it on shelf two weeks ago was delayed by some freakish weather condition or problem with scheduling at the transportation company. But through it all, the greatest highlight of building this business is that I get to work with the most amazing team. Whether we are celebrating a high or sharing a frustration of a challenge, I know the FAST team is filled with all the scientific rigor of the FDA world and all the magic of the consumer packaged goods industry. It is what sets us apart in my opinion.

How has First Aid Shot Therapy changed the medical industry?
We have a long way to go before we change the medical industry, but our goal is to help consumers manage their health everyday. Looking at the OTC aisle in many retailers, I realized how complex the buying decision is for consumers when they have a headache or a cold or any list of daily medical needs that are not serious enough to require a prescription. FAST's goal is to deliver better medicine using one umbrella brand, merchandised in one location in the store so consumers have a go to brand and place in the store where they can quickly find their healthcare needs. I also want consumers to connect with the brand in a way that makes them want to manage their healthcare proactively. If consumers trust and enjoy the FAST brand they will use our products and ultimately be healthier as a result.

What advice can you offer women who are seeking a medical career?
I do not like to give advice. I think people and situations are very different - what worked for me will not necessarily work for the next woman. But if I were going to give advice to any woman looking to follow her dream, I would encourage her to focus on making her own luck. No matter how hard we all work, to be really successful one has to get a little lucky. So do everything you can to work on making your own luck.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Having three children and a fabulously supportive husband keeps me extremely well grounded. My children are old enough to understand the fact that I am building a business. We discuss FAST often and track progress on a poster in my home office. We call the poster the FAST-o-meter. But the secret to my sanity is that my mom moved in with us just as I was starting the company. Living in a 3 generation household with 4 strong females is not always easy - just ask my husband and son - but the sense of security that we get from having my mom in charge of our children when we are working or away makes any challenges seem insignificant.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
In my opinion, no matter what your gender you have to put your head down and focus to achieve your dreams. No one, male or female, has an easy time building a company from scratch. I love to tell my team that we have to put our heads down and run into the wall - with the right momentum we will break through, but if we hesitate, the wall will beat us.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I often hear entrepreneurs say they are not willing to share their idea for fear of having someone steal the idea. When I was first exploring the idea of building FAST, I took a completely different approach. I reached out to anyone I could think of who might be able to help me think through the challenges of building this amazing company. I found that so many people were willing to help me explore the idea and make it better. The FAST Advisory Board swiftly grew in size and stature and today I consider some of the greatest consumer packaged goods, regulatory and medical minds as my mentors including Peter Hutt, former General Counsel for the FDA, Mary Minnick, partner at Lion Capital, and Dr. Jay Pasricha, my partner in FAST and Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University. Without these individuals, I am not sure I would ever have started this company. They have affected my life both professionally and personally and continue to do so as we grow.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
My husband's aunt, Karen de Segundo, who was Chief Executive of Shell International Renewables and who has held and holds many unbelievably impressive board positions for global companies, has been an exceptional role model over the past 17 years. Karen always seemed to manage her professional life and her family life with such grace and ease. I will forever strive to achieve her no-nonsense style and can only hope that my three children will turn out as amazing as her three sons have.

What do you want FAST to accomplish in the next year?
Over the next year, our goals at FAST include expanding our distribution, growing our product portfolio and building awareness across the country for our brand - of course driving sales is equally as important. Ultimately, our goal is to build the brand that consumers trust to manage all their healthcare needs. Our focus over the next year is to build a long term lasting brand with solid foundations for the future.