The AMCP Foundation Steven G. Avey Award was established in 2001 to recognize an AMCP member for sustained, exemplary and distinguished service to the profession of managed care pharmacy. It is AMCP and the AMCP Foundation's highest award.
2013 Steven G. Avey Award Winner - Lowell Sterler
The below is Lowell Sterler's acceptance speech given at the AMCP Award Dinner, April 4, 2013 in San Diego, California.
I am humbled and honored to
receive the Steven Gerard Avey Award. I
have served with Steve Avey. Steve Avey
is a friend of mine. And I’m no Steve
Avey. After all, who could be? Steve’s life is the epitome of integrity,
character, and dedication to family, friends, and colleagues. He sets the bar for walking worthy. To receive his namesake award transcends
anything I could have imagined in my career.
My history in managed care
pharmacy has been built on the shoulders of giants. These giants manifested themselves as my mentors,
my colleagues, my supervisors, my staff, and my associates. I have been blessed throughout my career by
being surrounded with talented colleagues that have been willing to teach and encourage
me. I consider all of the Academy
Founders along with the early Academy Presidents as being lifelong friends as
well as mentors. Any pioneering efforts
on my part were largely leveraged off of their own pioneering work.
Early mentors included folks
such as Norrie Thomas, Dave Teckman, Doug Stephens, Charlie Pulido, Robert
Navarro, and scores of others. I
understand Norrie is in the process of writing an autobiography that will
emphasize leadership traits. Well, I’m thinking
about writing my own book about my early years with her. I plan to call my hoped
for bestseller, what else but: Tuesdays
with Norrie. So stay tuned.
I believe that I am the only
member in the 25 year history of the Academy to ever publically be called upon
to offer a prayer at an AMCP function about the size of this group. Don’t worry, I won’t be making that same
mistake tonight or during the next 25 years.
I was asked to say a few
words about leadership. As I have already mentioned, I had the good fortune of
learning about leadership through talented, generous, and patient mentors. Mentoring itself is a core component of
leadership. A leader must be willing to serve
as a mentor while simultaneously leading by example.
It is essential to keep a sustained
focus on the big picture and the desired outcome, while still enjoying the
journey. I had the privilege of being
part of the senior management of two start-up PBMs. One was enormously successful. The second one, not so much. It is remarkable to discover how much can be
learned through failure just as through success. I discovered that a business model can be so
unique that a single major fatal flaw cannot always be overcome. It is similar to getting caught up in an
undertow while swimming in the ocean.
All the fighting, planning and scheming in the world will be to no
avail. The only solution left is to let yourself
ride out the wave and avoid being caught up in another one.
Nothing surpasses the passion
for work and compassion for people. As
mentioned, I have been blessed with talented, driven people on all sides of me
throughout my career. Hire wisely, mentor
generously, and watch the excitement happen.
Additionally, it is essential to maintain a sense of humor in the face
of hurdles, challenges, and seemingly intractable obstacles. Those of you who truly know me realize that I
put a great deal of stock in humor and laughter. In fact, the only epitaph I have ever desired
is simply that, “he made people laugh.”
I have been so blessed to be
exposed to the diversity of career opportunities that exist within
pharmacy. Beginning in retail, transitioning
to hospital where I got to work in over 40 hospitals, to managed care in both
start-up and large corporate PBMs, to health plans, and even to industry. Yes, it appears as though I could conceivably
conclude my managed care pharmacy career in industry.
I’ve heard reference to many
areas within pharmacy jokingly referred to as the light or dark side, depending
on which side of the table you sit.
Well, I like to think of all of them more as “fifty shades of grey.” I am grateful to my Shire colleagues for
their patience with me over the past three years and their willingness to help
me find the right shade for me.
Once again, thanks to the
Academy and all my colleagues for this adventurous journey through something
called managed care pharmacy and for this humbling honor.