Pharmacy Leader Alicia Matthews-Kent: "I would like to be remembered for being a caring and compassionate leader."

a person smiling for the camera

Last in our Women Leaders series.




Education:  BSc. Pharm, Dalhousie University, 2004

Current Position:  Senior Director, Healthcare Operations, Walmart Canada


When you graduated, what did you envision for your future?  

Upon graduation, I always knew I wanted the opportunity to lead. I wasn't sure if this would be in a clinical setting or in a business setting, but I knew I wanted to lean on the leadership skills I had started to develop as a young adult and take this forward into my pharmacy career. Luckily, I was able to get this opportunity early in my career when one of my leaders took a leap of faith in me 2 years after graduation to take on a district level role to lead 15 pharmacies in the district. That leap of faith set the stage for the rest of my career and gave me the chance to build my leadership skills early on, which I continue to develop to this day.  

How would you describe a great day at work?  

A great day at work for me consists of 3 things:  

Progress towards a challenging goalI love a challenge and there is something about breaking a barrier or making significant progress on a challenging goal that is so very satisfying! I love those days when you can sit back and reflect and know that all the hard days were worth it. 

Recognition for the teamAnother element of a great day is when I take the time to recognize someone for an accomplishment or when my team is recognized for the work they do.

Watching a team member succeedAnd finally, perhaps the best days at work are the days when I can watch a team member really shine. Someone who has stretched themselves outside of their comfort zone and increased their confidence to tackle new territory – those are the best days!

What is (or has been) your greatest challenge as a leader in pharmacy?  

My greatest challenge as a leader in pharmacy has been to help people see and uncover their full potential and what they are capable of. To take risks on themselves, to set the bar high, to reach for goals that seem just out of reach. To try and to fail and to get up and try again. And while trying to do that for others, to also manage the voice inside my own head that can hold me back for all the same reasons – to remind myself that a comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there! Creating that type of environment requires such a strong sense of trust on a team. Mastering that sense of trust while pushing the boundaries of what is possible is a balancing act that I continue to work on each and every day.   

Looking at your career, what are you proudest of? What have been some of the highlights of your career?  

Without a doubt, what I am most proud of are the relationships I have built with the people and the teams I have worked with over the course of my career. The past 18 months have been some of the most challenging for myself as a leader and for our profession as a whole, but as I reflect upon them, they hold many of my proudest moments. The teamwork, collaboration, compassion and sense of duty demonstrated by our entire team throughout the pandemic are incredible and something I am grateful to have been a part of. I love how our teams and our profession have owned the spotlight and shown our patients, our communities and, most importantly, ourselves what we are capable of.  

What advice would you give to new female pharmacy graduates?  

  1. Say yes to the opportunities: If someone you trust thinks you're ready for more, believe them and go for it.  
  2. Progression, not perfection: Perfection is elusive. Focus on taking action, making progress and pivoting along the way.
  3. Figure out what makes you special and own that for all it's worth!  

What legacy would you like to leave as a leader and to the pharmacy profession?  

 There are two: knowing I played role in the transformation of what healthcare looks like in our communities and elevating the role of the pharmacist and the teams who support them in the Canadian healthcare system. On a more personal note, I would like to be remembered for being a caring and compassionate leader – for demonstrating that you can be a strong leader and drive for results while still leading with kindness.  My favourite quote of all time and one I try and live by every day: 

"People may forget what you said, they may forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."  -Maya Angelou