Erika's personal moment came in the summer of 2023. Within two weeks she tragically lost one of her Shar Pei, Kingston, while another, Edmond, was diagnosed with cancer. So began a summer-long fight of radiation, immunotherapy, and surgeries between hours-long drives to the hospital. She loved these dogs as sons and her grief was profound, unlike anything she had experienced before.
While pet bereavement was available to her, she became very aware that it wasn't the norm. Knowing she was not alone in her shame and grief as a pet parent, she began to gather resources and write about her experience. Her book, Pets Are Family, is slated to be released March 21st, 2024 is a first step in raising awareness about the necessity of pet bereavement leave in organizational policies. Erika sees Kingston's passing and the events that followed as her "moment that mattered," one that only she will ever feel the full weight of. It has inspired her to show up more vulnerably and lead by example so others feel like they can do the same when their moments arise. While updating company policies to include pet bereavement is crucial, it's just a part of her bigger mission to bring more empathy into the workplace. Because, after all, we're only human, and we need each other more than ever.
Empathy in the workplace is about more than cush benefits and a set of values listed in a handbook. But what does this really mean? With relentless determination, Erika Sinner is on a mission to show us—not just within the confines of Directorie, the life science commercialization company she founded and leads as CEO, but across the globe.
Erika, who prefers the title "Chief Empathy Officer," aspires to be a catalyst for empathy-driven change within organizations. And having defied the odds of extremely humble beginnings to meet overwhelming entrepreneurial success, there is no doubt that she will achieve her goal. It's just a matter of when. Erika grew up in a small Missouri town. She had to work for anything she wanted and often helped her single mother pay for basic needs like food and electricity. This part of her story isn't shared for pity, but rather to paint the picture—these early years instilled the grit, tenacity, and work ethic to ambitiously chase big dreams and realize them. Erika put herself through night school, graduated with a degree in marketing and communications, and entered the world of healthcare, where she worked her way up the ranks in pharmaceutical marketing and, amidst 70-hour work weeks, hoped to make a difference.
Putting a decade of pharma experience to the test, Erika launched Directorie, a company dedicated to propelling small-to-midsize life science organizations forward in bringing vital products to market. And, in turn, helping patients with rare and ultra-rare diseases receive the medicines they need most. By stepping into the role of CEO, Erika has tapped into newfound potential and purpose. She marries feminine leadership with masculine business savvy to bring unparalleled empathy, thoughtfulness, and understanding to the workplace while maintaining high standards and expectations.
Erika's gift is that she recognizes the humanity in everyone—and honors it. She creates space for people to show up authentically and brings an ease and vulnerability that is hard to replicate. Her team calls it "the Erika effect." Whether celebrating a major life milestone, bringing excitement to the everyday, or validating someone's feelings, even if she can't fully relate, Erika believes certain moments matter and deserve extra compassion and understanding.