Spotlight on Caroline Pugh / by Haley Smith

Meet Caroline Pugh - Chief of Staff to the President of CareJourney, who was recently named one of the "15 female entrepreneurs to watch" by Entrepreneur magazine.

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Tell us about CareJourney.

We are a healthcare data analytics company in Washington D.C. that is focused on driving down cost of care, helping large health systems and hospitals how to provide better and more effective care as well as enabling patients to receive better access to their own medical data. 

Why did you join CareJourney?

When I was 19 years old, I started my own healthcare tech company that had very similar goals to those at CareJourney, where I was developing 3D human scanning technology so that anyone could have accurate biometric information on themselves. I ran this company for about three and a half years and through this experience learned the tech lag that exists in healthcare and therefore the opportunity that startups and nimble teams can have on the industry. I became really passionate about how data can drive better decisions in healthcare both for doctors and patients. One of my mentors while building my startup was Aneesh Chopra, the first Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. under President Obama. He was someone I grew to admire as a leader, changemaker and someone who works tirelessly on the behalf of the American public. I knew I wanted to work with him one day. When I moved to Washington DC two years ago, he and I caught up over coffee to which he asked me to be his Chief of Staff. I was employee number three at CareJourney. It was an opportunity I could never pass up. Every day is another adventure at CareJourney and not a day goes by where I don't feel like we're making a difference in the way that healthcare will ultimately be delivered in this country. 

You have had numerous successes and accolades, including being named one of the "15 female entrepreneurs to watch" by Entrepreneur magazine. What is your advice to a younger you about all that was ahead?

I wouldn't change my path or journey as I needed to learn all the tough lessons that I did in order to have the understanding that I have now. However, two of the most important things I've learned are: 1) power of a network and 2) you have to ask for the things you want in life (you are not just "lucky!")

Everyone talks about networking and thinks that showing up at a business event counts as "networking." Well, it doesn't. I actually don't like the word "networking" as it comes across as very transactional. Entrepreneurs should focus more on having a more intentional pitch and reason for connecting with others. The worst thing that venture capitalist or entrepreneur hears is "can we grab coffee so I can pick your brain?" Instead, do the research. Give a specific reason as to why you think that person's experience could add value to what you are doing and how your product/idea directly fits with their portfolio or business. Never underestimate how much a little personalization and due diligence goes. People recognize it and will be much more inclined to give you their time. 

As for asking for what you want, I've seen some of the smartest people I know, settle within their current jobs though they know what they want and can do so much more. Their excuse? "The right opportunity hasn't come along" or "I'm waiting for the right moment to look into something else".....

The truth is there will never be a "right moment" and that opportunity won't come along until you go out searching for it.  All the successful people I know, repeatedly asked for the things they wanted in life, whether it as a raise, promotion, investment, title, etc. It's not always easy, but the worst that can happen is you get a "no." Well then, you go to the next thing. The key is not being patient, but never stopping until you get a yes :) At least, that's my philosophy!