Amy Heymans, 2022 Outstanding Women in Business recipient
Amy is a Strategic Advisor and Founder of Mad*Pow
Heymans is a co-founder of Mad*Pow, a design agency that partners with clients to improve health and helps people achieve financial well-being and have a positive social impact. Heymans also founded HXD, a health experience design conference, which draws designers, technologists, healthcare industry executives and clinicians to discuss how a collaborative process involving diverse stakeholders can help develop solutions for problems in the healthcare industry.
Additionally, Heymans created the Center for Health Experience Design (CHXD), which serves as a design and experiential innovation resource to health organizations, and a place for establishments whose mission is to improve the experience of health for everyone.
She also serves as the vice president of An Orphan’s Dream, a nonprofit dedicated to providing an orphanage for children in Kenya who have lost their parents to AIDS and domestic violence.
What lessons can you impart to future female business leaders?
Our voices have power. At times, I would rush my speech or apologize for what I was going to say. Now, I’m realizing I can take my time and speak my authentic truth no matter the audience, and do that fearlessly and unapologetically and not be worried about taking up space. And understanding that my ideas matter and my voice has power.
We may think, I’m too sensitive or too emotional or too this or too that. For me, I thought that I had to be perfect in order to ensure that what I was doing was worthwhile and that nothing I was doing could be detracted from somehow. And that led me to being very hard on myself. It’s also about listening. We all need to be listened to and valued and held with dignity. Listening is a gift that we can give to someone else.
What motivates you to create new initiatives that benefit people worldwide?
It’s a belief in humanity that we have the wherewithal, the creativity and the desire to make things better. I truly believe that we can overcome obstacles through creativity, through inclusion, by focusing on what matters most and what people really want and need. It’s optimism, a people-first mindset, and a commitment to co-creation and collaboration.
What challenges have you encountered as a female leader in the workplace?
Challenges come and go. Sometimes you need to make a decision, and there’s no kind of good decision to be made. And yet, you still have to make a decision and you have to hear feedback from that. The challenge is knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table. Also, be open to other points of view and mindsets, so that you can figure out what’s going to work best. You don’t want to forget who you are and just do what everybody else says, but you don’t want to be so confident in your direction that you’re not listening to others. I think finding that balance was definitely a struggle for me, and the answers come through reflection. It’s constant growth.
Have you had a mentor or served as a mentor?
I have served as a mentor and it’s one of my favorite things. I walk away inspired, and it also pushes me to clarify and reflect on what I know and believe.
I had some great mentors. I had my sister, who I was able to witness being the only female engineer amongst a team of engineers, and I saw how she boldly held her own. And then I had another mentor, Alexandra Drane. She was unapologetically who she is — a feisty, intelligent, bold, brave woman. I saw her in the industry speaking and then I came to know her as a friend, and she shared her learnings with me and took the time, which was generous. Whenever I had to do anything hard, I would say to myself, “Pretend you’re Alex Drane.” I would channel her in a way until I knew that, okay, I can do this.
How do you balance your professional and personal lives?
I learned that you can’t give 100 percent to work and 100 percent to home. You have to have a life that is a puzzle of many pieces, and you sort of zoom in and out of different areas as they become relevant. A lot of it was letting my standards down in some cases, like it’s okay if the kitchen is a mess or it’s okay if I reschedule this meeting, so that I can be here for this field trip or this important moment. Flexibility and trusting your gut are really important, and also knowing that you will drop a ball at home and you will drop a ball at work and that’s okay — the world isn’t going to end. I’ve learned over the years to be patient with myself. And to know that I might not get it right the first time or the second time, or I might make a mistake, but that’s okay. I’m going to keep learning and keep going.