Featured TRUST Member
Julia Halberg, MD, MS, MPH is Vice President of Global Health and Chief Wellness Officer for General Mills, a Fortune 500 global consumer food company with a 150-year history of making food people love. The company's brands include Cheerios, Lära bars, Oui yogurt, Nature Valley, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Annie’s, and Häagen Dazs (international).
For over 20 years, she has served as an adjunct assistant professor in the School of Public Health’s Division of Environmental & Occupational Health at the University of Minnesota.
Describe your key responsibilities
My focus, as a leader and strategist, is to promote the health and well-being of our ~40,000 employees. I oversee the company’s global approach to preventive care, health education, well-being programming, and medical advocacy. My responsibilities include:
- Leading strategic health and safety initiatives at our corporate facilities and at supply chain and office sites across the globe;
- Serving as on-call physician to executives, managers, and any employee needing urgent medical care or assistance;
- Providing health and medical guidance in quality, food safety, security, and legal decisions.
Who has been most influential helping you to develop as a leader?
I have had two mentors that guided my career. The first was Dr. Jack Mandel, my professor in epidemiology during my graduate work in public health. He helped guide me into the field of medicine via population health, part of what we now call the Triple Aim. The second is the former VP of Health and Human Services at General Mills, Dr. Jim Craig, who has helped me navigate the intricacies of corporate medicine and emphasized the importance of preventive medicine by going upstream to provide the environment, programing, and clinical services to keep our employees healthy and safe at work. I continue to benefit from their sage advice after 20+ years.
Why did you join the TRUST? What keeps you involved as a TRUST member?
The TRUST has been a wonderful networking and learning opportunity for me. It has connected me with bright and talented women in health care whom I value to this day. I have also had the opportunity to work with inspiring new talent through the mentoring program.
What is the best career advice you've received?
Two pieces of advice have served me well. The first is to follow your passion. For me that is promoting health and well-being through my prescription: “Taking care of yourself is your most unselfish act.” The second is to be present and listen more than you talk….and that is one I work on daily. Avoiding the many distractions and being present for someone is the most respectful and time-efficient manner in which to conduct business.
What support do you need now to evolve your development as a leader?
Having other women leaders in health care to talk to and learn from provides an opportunity for lifelong learning. It is important to engage both new and experienced women to stay current, focused, and relevant.
How do you want to support other women in their leadership journeys?
I have enjoyed the mentoring program and social gatherings to learn and stay involved with this great community of professional women.
Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by the people I meet, whether it be during international travel or business. It is easy to be caught up in our daily routine, and I find that learning about new cultures and people inspires me to think more creatively and inclusively.
What is something that not many people know about you?
I spent my honeymoon learning how to barefoot water ski from 7-time national champion Zenon Bilas. It was a really, really bad choice. Hitting the water at 40 mph multiple times is not fun or energizing. I am now more thoughtful in my sports activities. A key learning for me is to avoid sports that require a neck brace as basic equipment.
Any words of wisdom to live by?
Stretch yourself. If you are not at times uncomfortable, you are likely not learning. Also, try to say “yes!” We are so into decision speed that we often can summarize in our minds why an idea or concept will not work. Instead of identifying the negative, try to find some possibility from the idea and build off that. It embraces listening, processing, and is an inclusive way to engage and innovate.
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