Our interview with Becca Lococo, PhD, Senior Healthcare Executive
Becca Lococo is a healthcare executive who works with hospitals, payers, and physicians to transform healthcare. Her specialty is making healthcare easier for consumers to understand, navigate, and pay for.
Becca is seen here in The Chelsey. In the words of Becca, "It fit like a second skin. I put it on and wore it out of the box, which I can never do as a petite. I travel for work, and The Chelsey has become my new staple. I can wear it for my long 12 hours days and get ton of compliments on it!"
What is one of the biggest roadblocks you've experienced in your career as a woman?
When I was 30 years old, I gave my first board presentation. I had prepared extensively for this presentation, and was excited to do a great job. But, as soon as the meeting kicked off, someone in the back of the room raised their hand and asked me where I got my PhD. Before I could answer, they said, "Because you look 18". The entire room laughed.
Remembering a joke I heard from another woman in business I quickly said, "That's because you're sitting far away. Thanks for the compliment,” and continued with my presentation.
Afterwards, President of the hospital, who was also a woman, pulled me aside and complimented me on the presentation and how I handled the situation.
How have you tackled the challenges of being a petite, young looking woman in your career?
Early in my career it became clear that being petite would always make me look younger than I was, and that it would need to be something I was self-aware of. When I meet someone in person who has already known me as "Becca Lococo, engineering PhD and Consulting Partner", I can tell they do not expect me to look the way I do. Because of this, I make it a point to establish my credibility quickly, usually by sharing my educational and professional background – I’ve learned that once you demonstrate your expertise, any misperceptions based on your looks will fall away. When I'm in a formal, professional environment I make sure that I speak very clearly and directly, especially if the conversation is going to be very political. I’m very high energy, but I use that to my advantage to emphasize my points during my presentations to get that gravitas and capture the attention of a room. I also think a lot about how to dress myself for a professional situation. Because I am petite, when I put on a traditional suit jacket and pants I feel like I'm dressing up in my father's closet. I like to wear dresses as well as blazers, which I see as feminine and ladylike, but also professional.
What are some things you have refused to compromise, even if they may have hurt you professionally, because they are core to your identity?
Some people are very serious all the time, but that's just not me. I'm going to be someone who makes jokes and giggles, even in professional environments. Not only is it not healthy for me to not be myself, but if I'm my authentic self, other people will gravitate towards that, whether it's the C-suite positions or my junior colleagues. They appreciate the giggles, jokes, and showing some of my bubbly personality. It helps with the relationship I'm looking to develop.
It may have hurt me in some places, but at the end of the day it would have hurt me more to not be my authentic self.
What three pieces of advice would you give to younger women who aspire to be in positions of authority and management?
1) Absorb every piece of information you can get your hands on. Having knowledge and expertise can accelerate you professionally very quickly.
2) Always work a little bit harder than the other person. It does pay off, and it is worth it.
3) Value soft skills, such as emotional intelligence and leadership skills, as much technical skills. The more you advance in your career the more important they become.
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