Chief Advancement Officer
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Sandhya Patel: What was a defining moment in your career which has led to your current role?
Carrie Collins: I transitioned from being a lawyer in private practice to a higher education fundraiser in 2004. Thanks to my network of amazing women, I was identified as a possible candidate for a position at a university—and found my professional calling.
Sandhya: When was a time in your career where it was clear that being a woman made your job more difficult? Are there any times it was easier?
Carrie Collins: I went to law school right after college and was practicing as an attorney at 25. I was often mistaken as a paralegal or asked to do secretarial tasks that would never have been requested of a male associate. I pretended I didn't know how to use the fax machine so that the partners (who were all male) wouldn't ask me to send faxes after the staff had gone home. I wouldn't characterize being a woman as having made my job easier, but I have definitely used it to my strategic advantage.
Sandhya: Have you had a mentor or sponsor who has helped you in your career, and how did they do that? How have you been able to do the same for someone else?
Carrie Collins: I am inordinately lucky to have had a series of mentors and sponsors—both women and men—who have taken the opportunity and time to mold, encourage, include, and promote me. I have tried to continue that cycle with young professionals throughout my career.
Sandhya: Who is a historic or living woman that has inspired you?
Carrie Collins: My 14 year old daughter, who, when she was about 8 years old, told me that she wasn't bossy; she was strategic. (If we extend that to a fictional character, then Wonder Woman. Always Wonder Woman.)
Sandhya: Is there something you would say to your younger self?
Carrie Collins: Stay the course; you will become the woman you think you should be.
Sandhya: What haven’t we asked you that we should and what would your answer be?
Carrie Collins: My motto: "Well-behaved women rarely make history."
(The interview was completed before the pandemic—we followed up with a few more questions on how everyone is currently coping.)
Sandhya Patel: How is the pandemic affecting your work and daily routine?
Carrie Collins: My institution has implemented daily calls of a COVID-19 task force, which includes a daily briefing report, where operational and other issues are discussued. I have also initiated 2 Google Chat rooms for my team—one labeled as "Water Cooler" to share memes, videos, and stories, and the other labeled "Remote Work" so that we can disseminate best practices for working from home. Otherwise, I can do almost everything that I need to do from home with my laptop; it's certain members of my team for whom I have the most concern.
Sandhya Patel: As difficult as it is, has the isolation and social distancing had any unexpected benefits?
Carrie Collins: My family hasn't spent this much time together. Ever. Not even on vacation. I will say that we're coping quite nicely at this point, but with 2 teenagers, a dog, and a husband working from home, I cannot say how long that will last!
Sandhya Patel: Are there specific ways you have focused on staying positive throughout this temporary new reality?
Carrie Collins: I believe this time will allow my team and I to tackle projects that we've often discussed but never had time to do. I also don't watch much TV normally, so I have taken the time to discover some amazing shows!
To learn more about Carrie and keep up with PCOM, follow the links below.