All Articles Leadership Careers Betty Otter-Nickerson on what it takes to get and stay ahead

Betty Otter-Nickerson on what it takes to get and stay ahead

3 min read


As president of Sage North America’s Healthcare Division, Betty Otter-Nickerson is responsible for strategic vision and operations, building on the company’s more than 25 years of innovation in the health care field. She most recently was COO of the LiveStrong Foundation.

You’re in an industry undergoing rapid changes, in terms of technology and the regulatory environment. How do you keep up?

It’s important to keep up with both technology advances and health care-specific market trends. Keeping up is vital and requires constant attention to market trends, reading industry periodicals and websites, industry daily briefings, government websites plus working closely with our Sage market research team and industry partners. In health care, I think it’s important to ensure that technology helps physicians improve quality of care and health outcomes and allow patients to become better advocates for their own health. And of course, I read several SmartBrief e-newsletters daily to stay up on industry trends and for professional development, for myself and our team.

What have been the biggest influences on your leadership style?

I’ve been fortunate to have several great mentors who helped me develop throughout my career. They taught me to take risks, to learn from mistakes, to make sure everyone on the team knows the team’s objectives, to be results driven and to understand what success looks like. One of my mantras is, “Don’t confuse activity with results.” In my years working with Lance Armstrong, I learned the value of believing in yourself, to stay focused on your goals, to face adversity with determination and to always remember attitude is everything.

What do you look for when you interview people for your senior management team?

No matter what type of position I am looking to fill on a team, I always look for sponges — people who have a desire to learn and have had a variety of experiences. At the executive level, trust and integrity and being a team player are very important to me. I look for team players who have taken risks, clearly can demonstrate leadership, have strong communication skills and want to be part of a winning team.

It’s college graduation season. What would be your career advice to an ambitious young woman just stepping into the workforce?

No matter what you seek to do in your career, do something you are passionate about and ensure you are constantly learning and contributing. Look for an organization that will invest in you as you invest in yourself. You have to take responsibility for making things happen. Set goals for yourself and think out of the box — keep in mind that what you start out doing may not last your entire career. I’m on the fourth phase of my career. I started out as a social worker, then spent years in technology, some time in the nonprofit arena and am now in health IT. Just remember: Believe in yourself.

Image credit: VisualField, via iStock