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Changemaker Joy Davis Is Just Getting Started

The AAPS director of knowledge management’s motto is, “It’s not education if it doesn’t change you.”

MeetingsNet’s annual Changemaker list recognizes 20 outstanding meetings professionals for their efforts to move their organizations and the industry forward in unique and positive ways. Find all the profiles here.

Joy Davis, CAE
Director of Knowledge Management
American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists
For rebranding and reimagining the annual meeting, and making progressive changes in science poster experiences

Making Change
AAPS is rethinking every aspect of its operations, and we’re holding our mission and our membership’s needs and experience at the forefront of decision-making. Posters are one example; they are critical in the sharing of new science among scientists during a meeting. Our first change was introducing digital terminals for the posters in 2016 to improve scientists’ access to the posters and authors that mattered to them most. That caused a stir in the membership! We’re reinventing our poster floor at the meeting with Poster Forums, which are relaxed, conversational spaces where authors and participants can mix and share curated collections of posters. We’re also restructuring our submission process to improve the experience for prospective authors and abstract screeners.

Our biggest project is launching our new fall meeting in 2018, PharmSci 360. We’re introducing today’s best education strategies into our sessions and helping our exhibitors become real partners with our scientists in finding the best solutions. One of my mottos is, “It’s not education if it doesn't change you.” We are changing the way we train speakers; we’re redesigning our leadership training, and we’re rebuilding the way we recognize the best science and scientists in the pharmaceutical sciences community.

What’s Next?
I feel like we just started! We’re launching AAPS’ first real online community that will help thousands of scientists collaborate on the products and therapies that improve global health.

Managing Change
I work in nonprofit associations, where 95 percent of the workforce is voluntary. For us, change is like waves washing through the ocean. Every boat and swimmer in the water rises, falls, and risks drowning when the wave hits them.

My advice is this: Know your mission. Make it part of you. It is your first consideration when you decide which project to spend your shrinking resources on, and a prioritization strategy when deciding what part of your to-do list to tackle. Will this project affect enough people to advance our mission? Is that program really the best strategy for getting there? You will have to change course. Flotsam and jetsam will get in your way. Someone is going to choose to do the backstroke. But if you can get everyone pointed in the same direction and moving, you will get there.

Best Advice
The critics, the people who don’t “get it,” the tin-pot dictators who are most threatened by a new system, are the people you most need to keep informed. You have to give everyone the chance to make the change. Keep people informed, even when they hate the news. I like to draw plans and ideas on the white board in my office, and then let my coworkers comment on, and edit, them. I have run out of room on the white board and then written on the windows. I like having it all out where people can see it and respond.

My Role Models
I don’t have a specific role model, but I have worked with some amazing people. Construction product representatives and architects taught me about contracts and negotiations, as well as long-term relationships and trust. Editors and reporters from my prior life as a reporter taught me about collaboration and management. My coworkers are a constant lesson in what it means to be professional and a team player.

Think Differently
One of my pals says I have a “balcony to the battlefield” mind. I can see the big picture and then drop down to the frontline to help our team do the day-to-day work to get us there.

Got a Spare Hour?
There is always another book waiting to be read. I am also a dog person, which means there’s a lot of time to walk and think.



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