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Purpose 360 episode 134

An Act of Grace with Geralyn Ritter

On May 12, 2015, Geralyn Ritter, Senior Vice President at pharmaceutical company Merck, was flung from her train car in Amtrak’s deadliest train derailment since 1987. Of 238 passengers, over 200 people were injured and eight were tragically killed. Geralyn was the most critically injured of those who survived.

It took just seconds for Geralyn to go from being a senior executive at one of America’s largest companies to an immobilized ICU patient facing an uncertain future. Despite intense pain, years of recovery, and a continuing struggle with trauma, Geralyn came to view her situation as an act of grace – an undeserved, unmerited gift – that empowered her to rebuild her body and re-establish her career, “bone by bone.”

We invited Geralyn Ritter, now Executive Vice President of External Affairs, ESG, and Sustainability at Organon, a new women’s health organization and spinoff from Merck, to talk about her recovery and return to work through the lens of gratitude, grief, resilience, and, of course, purpose. 

Listen for more insights on:

  • Servant leadership and its transformative impact on employees.
  • How to balance realism and optimism – both at work and in life.
  • Why being open to new solutions and opportunities can improve your resilience in new and challenging situations.

Resources + Links:

  • (00:00) – Welcome to Purpose 360
  • (00:13) – Geralyn Ritter
  • (03:13) – Meet Geralyn
  • (05:42) – Scale and Impact
  • (06:24) – Her Role at Merck
  • (11:50) – Outcomes
  • (13:20) – The Crash
  • (16:10) – The Book
  • (17:54) – Reslience
  • (20:50) – Dealing With the Pain
  • (24:34) – Applying Lessons to Work
  • (29:25) – Organon
  • (34:30) – God’s Reason
  • (35:56) – New Purpose Perspective
  • (36:57) – Goals for Organon
  • (38:50) – Servant Leadership
  • (41:08) – Advice for Leaders
  • (42:43) – Advice When Going Through Trauma
  • (45:10) – Final Thoughts
  • (45:42) – Wrap Up

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Business is an unlikely hero: a force for good working to solve society's most pressing challenges, while boosting bottom line. This is social purpose at work. And it's a dynamic journey.

Purpose 360 is a masterclass in unlocking the potential of social purpose to ignite business and social impact. We illuminate the growing impacts of purpose, from engaging employees and fostering deeper consumer loyalty to inspiring product innovation and increasing market share.