Farewelling Lisa Williams, Pharmac’s director of operations

Update Kauneke Update

Director of Operations at Te Pātaka Whaioranga - Pharmac, Lisa Williams, has moved on to a new role at Te Whatu Ora.

Lisa is a white woman with shoulder length blonde hair. She is smiling and wearing a blue blazer with a black top underneath. .

We spoke with Lisa about what she’s learned and what she’s grateful for – after three different roles and over fifteen years at Pharmac.

“Pharmac has changed immensely since I started,” says Lisa. “When I began, there were only about fifty staff members. It felt much more like a startup – it was nimble, small, and everyone knew what everyone else was doing. I came from a huge company with over a hundred thousand employees globally – when I joined Pharmac someone came up to me, who I didn’t know, and said ‘hey Lis!’ It was a bit of a culture shock, and it reminded me just how warm and friendly New Zealanders are.”

“Back then, Pharmac also had a very framed focus: on medicines that were being dispensed through community pharmacies. Then, as the Government gave us more responsibility, managing cancer medicines, hospital medicines, vaccines, and from 2012, hospital devices in a medical setting, Pharmac’s focus and scope grew. But the core has remained the same – deliver the best health outcomes from within the funding provided.”

“One of the biggest positive changes I’ve seen is way more public involvement. That’s a really great thing,” says Lisa. “The organisation has come so far in recognising the need to meet, speak with, and understand the needs of consumers. We’ve also learnt that long-term relationships with suppliers are really critical – so we can maintain continuity of supply, and so that New Zealanders can access the new treatments as they are developed.”

“It’s been my honour to be accepted as a leader – it’s humbling,” says Lisa. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead, and to be able to bring some positivity to a role which isn’t always easy. As an organisation we’re often scrutinised and sometimes criticised. But it’s also been my privilege to be able to speak with New Zealanders and hear them say 'my child has access to a life-saving medicine now, because of you guys,' and pass that on to the team. That feedback means the world to me and the Pharmac team.”

“I’ve always been driven by challenging myself and growing my skills, not so much by status or hierarchy,” says Lisa. “So it’s time to go somewhere else and learn new things. I look forward to bringing what I’ve learned during my time at Pharmac to my new role at Te Whatu Ora. It’s very exciting to go in and help to grow, build, and work towards transforming our health system for the benefit of all New Zealanders.”

This story is part of our Kauneke Update 

The Kauneke Update will keep you informed on important news and progress towards Te Pātaka Whaioranga – Pharmac's strategic goals. In te reo Māori, kauneke means to develop and move forward.