San Marino resident Jenny Yessaian – an RN, MBA and oncology portfolio account specialist at Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., as well as being a mother of two – was recently named ‘Working Mother of the Year’ by the aptly named Working Mother Magazine.
Yessaian was recognized for her achievement on October 23 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City while leaders and associates from her firm – as well as Jenny’s husband, George Yessaian – were on hand to celebrate Jenny’s success.
“We are all very proud of Jenny,” said Christi Shaw, North American region head of Novartis. “We are happy to celebrate with her. Jenny’s passion, creativity and commitment have enhanced the lives of many of our working parents.”
Yessaian birthed the idea of Working Parents Connection during a business trip to Novartis’s national headquarters in New Jersey.
“At one of our national meetings, they were talking about all the resource groups that were available to employees and one was called ‘working parents,’” she said, speaking with The Tribune yesterday between her appointments at USC’s University Hospital. “They had a resource group for the employees at the New Jersey headquarters, but nothing for those of us who are spread throughout the country, so I jumped on it.”
Among her many contributions, Yessaian recruits speakers who can help working parents to create webcasts and other informative presentations that run the gamut from how to run your family like a business to seminars on bullying to meal planning on-the-go.
“It includes shopping lists,” she explained. “You just say ‘this is what we are having for dinner tonight’ and go to the store.”
She’ll soon be going abroad. Novartis has summoned Jenny to Basel, Switzerland where she will explain the traveling parents group to the folks at global headquarters.
“If I can impact the working parents, I’ve done a good thing,” she says. “I do a fair amount of traveling and the group takes a little away from my job, but it’s well worth the effort.”
Novartis employs 14,000 in the United States and Yessaian specializes in pharmaceuticals specific to the field of oncology. She graduated from Crescenta Valley High School, USC and received her MBA from Pepperdine. Jenny lives in San Marino with her husband, George – an analyst for the Capital Group – and their two children, Michael, 7, and Emily, 6. She serves as co-den leader for Wolf Scout Den 8, is co-chair of the ‘Go Green Team’ at Valentine Elementary School and a member of the Valentine event committee.
And she now has a sash that declares her status as ‘Working Mother of the Year.’
“Yes, I have a sash,” she quipped.
Yessaian then explained how she had constructed a large frame with a photo of George to commemorate the completion of his first iron-man competition this past summer.
“I got the sash and hung it right over the iron man frame,” she said, her speech almost inaudible from laughter. “I told him ‘your claim to fame is gone. I’m Working Mother of the Year!’”
Jenny’s contributions – and the Working Parents Connection’s efforts – have not gone unnoticed. In 2011, she received the Oncology Division’s Diversity & Inclusion Award; and in 2012, the Working Parents Connection received a Novartis President’s Award.
Yessaian continues to explore ways to enhance NPC’s culture – and she acknowledges the positive impact the employee resource groups can have on work and life.
“The Working Parents Connection has opened doors for me – by providing visibility and access to leaders,” she said. “It’s been personally rewarding too – I believe that if my ideas help one person, I’ve done a good thing.”
“Jenny’s award is a tribute to her ingenuity and industriousness and should be celebrated by parents and family-friendly companies around the world,” says Blythe Maling, friend and fellow San Marino resident who co-chairs the Valentine School ‘Go Green Team’ with Yessaian. “She has made Novartis a better workplace and shares her energy and effervescence with the San Marino community. Jenny is the first to volunteer for a school or community initiative and the first to make something happen. Her ‘bull by the horns’ approach to life continues in her personal life. She is probably at home right now roasting her own coffee, making homemade pasta and helping her children with a science project – all at the same time. Most people call that juggling. Jenny would smile and call it ‘strategic execution.’”
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