MEET ALUMNA CHERI CANON

One of the greatest things about Momentum is the powerful alumnae network. Periodically we interview these amazing women about their experience in our program.

Cheri L. Canon, M.D., F.A.C.R., F.A.A.W.R. is a Professor and Witten-Stanley Endowed Chair of Radiology at the UAB School of Medicine and sits on UAB Medicine Joint Operating Leadership Council. She served as an oral examiner for the American Board of Radiology (ABR) for eleven years, a member of the Board of Trustees, and now sits on its Board of Governors. She was the vice chair of the American College of Radiology (ACR), chancellor on the board, and previously served as the chair of the ACR Commission on Education. She is the President-elect of the Society of Chairs of Academic Radiology Departments (SCARD) and the co-creator of LEAD, a new women’s leadership development program jointly developed by SCARD and GE Healthcare. She is active in the Birmingham community and is a member of the Birmingham Rotary Club and is the current president for Momentum, a Birmingham women’s leadership organization.

What did you gain from your Momentum experience?

I gained a remarkable network of brilliant and supportive women, a foundational skill set for business and leadership, and the confidence to move forward.

What is one piece of leadership advice you have been given that has helped you in your career?

Do the pre-meeting work. Reach out to others and understand their positions on topics in advance of the discussion, because by the time the meeting is called to order, decisions are already cemented.

If you knew then what you know now, what would you tell your 18-year-old self?

I would tell her, but I know she won’t believe me: Be confident. You are capable of this, and there will be a point in your life when you do feel comfortable in your skin and you will feel empowered. At that point, own it, then give back.

What challenges do you think the next generation of women leaders face?

I don’t think the challenges will change. Those women will suffer the same implicit and overt biases that will make them question their worth. They will be challenged with an overwhelming list of things they want to (must) accomplish and must learn to manage through it.

What do you think organizations need to do differently for more women to rise into executive roles?

Sponsor their women! Skill building, mentoring, and networking are important, but executive sponsorship is the missing piece.

What three words do you think should characterize every leader?

Empathetic, optimistic, visionary.

How do you manage your career, home, and community life?

I have no idea. It’s a constant juggle of shifting priorities and an attempt to integrate (not balance) across all three.

What advice do you have for aspiring leaders?

Step-up and lead. Be fearless. Give back.

Dr. Canon was interviewed by Bella Tylicki, senior PR student at UAB. 

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