FORTUNE -- Heather Bresch has been at the helm of pharmaceutical-maker Mylan (MYL) since 2012. During her time as the Fortune 500 company's CEO, she's overseen a $1.6 billion acquisition of India's Agila Specialties and recently helped the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, which will both boost Mylan's profits and save children's lives, get signed into law.
Fortune's Most Powerful Women started as a list in 1998, kicked off its annual Summit the following year, and has since become a community of the preeminent women in business, government, philanthropy, education, and the arts. This weekly Q&A features one MPW's personal take on leadership, aspirations, and (of course) balance.
1. What is the best advice you ever received?
One of my mentors taught me the importance of getting out of your comfort zone. She taught me that sometimes you can see more from the edge than from the middle, and that sometimes it takes looking at something from the extreme to get to the right place in the center.
2. What would you say to a group of young people looking to enter the tough job market?
Don't expect to come into the company as the president; take the opportunities that come your way and make the most of them by working harder than everyone around you.
3. What currently excites you most about your industry?
The health care industry is ready to be redefined and, in fact, must be redefined in order to meet today's challenges and the rapidly changing policy environment. I believe Mylan has a unique opportunity to lead the way in redefining this industry, for instance by driving access to affordable, high-quality medicine for all and by engaging the consumer in their health care decision making.
4. What was the most important thing you learned in school?
How much I didn't know. I grew up in a small town in West Virginia and had a pretty limited worldview. At school, I majored in international relations, which for the first time gave me perspective on how big the world was -- a world that had felt very small prior to going to college.
5. What do you do for fun?
Cooking is my favorite form of stress relief. I love being in the kitchen and around the dinner table with my family. I also try to go horseback riding when I have time on weekends.
6. What business or technology person do you admire most? Why?
I have a lot of admiration for Bill Gates. While he is of course a brilliant and innovative business leader, what separates him from others like him is his Foundation. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is an organization that I have tremendous respect for due to its willingness to tackle really tough problems, take risks, and measure results in meaningful ways. Historically, when philanthropists set up their foundations, the founders were willing to take risks, but over time these foundations became institutions concerned primarily about the perpetuity of the foundation. Gates has taken a different approach, and I admire that.
7. What other companies do you admire? Why?
I admire companies who have reinvented themselves and transformed from a business on the verge of extinction into something new and thriving. It takes a lot of courage and innovation to rethink the status quo and become something different.
8. What is one trait every entrepreneur needs more today than ever?
Agility and speed. We operate in an incredibly fast-paced global environment where information and ideas flow freely with no geographic boundaries. If you don't bring a great idea to life quickly, a competitor -- somewhere in the world -- will jump ahead of you.
9. What was your first job?
My first job was bagging ice and stocking shelves at my family's grocery store. I started my career at Mylan 22 years ago as a data entry clerk.
10. What's your take on the "having it all" debate?
My first issue with the "having it all" debate is that it shouldn't just be a discussion about women. It shouldn't have anything to do with gender -- no one has it all. For me, it is all about balancing priorities and juggling. In order to manage work, life, family, etc., I'm constantly juggling and making sure that all the balls stay in the air.
The elusive goal of "work-life balance" just leads to frustration and guilt, says a veteran female executive. Here's what worked for her.Anne Fisher, contributor - Jun 28, 2013 1:10 PM ET
London is focused on building an environment conducive to tech entrepreneurs, and it's not following the Silicon Valley mold.Colleen Leahey, Reporter - Jun 24, 2013 2:18 PM ET
A 1973 Fortune list of the top-ranking women in business shows what has changed -- and what hasn't.May 28, 2013 11:30 AM ET
For the CEOs at Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit, inclusion and leadership can coexist.
By Stephanie N. Mehta, executive editor
FORTUNE -- The comment drew laughs, then applause and sympathetic nods from the audience. "I used to have really big difficulty in saying, 'I want you to do this,' " Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox (XRX), confessed at Fortune's annual Most Powerful Women Summit in early October. "When I got used to MOREOct 26, 2012 5:00 AM ET
PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi sounded as much like one of the NGOs that have protested against some of the food giant's past decisions as she did its chief executive at Fortune's Most Powerful Women summit. By Jennifer ReingoldOct 5, 2011 1:23 PM ET
She's worked with Rupert Murdoch, Martha Stewart, Jane Fonda, and Michael Eisner. She helped put Patty Hearst in jail and Desperate Housewives on the air. Now she's at Gilt Groupe, the hot luxury website, and she's making herself over once again.
By Jennifer Reingold, senior editor
FORTUNE -- Some résumés are a lot more fun to read than others. Consider that of Hedy Lamarr, the sultry Austrian movie star of the 1930s. MOREOct 3, 2011 5:00 AM ET
Boardroom battles and power plays shaped this year's U.S. list, which boasts eight new faces and - surprise! - a new No. 1.
By Beth Kowitt & Rupali Arora
There's been plenty of turmoil atop Fortune's annual Most Powerful Women list. Meg Whitman crashed the party, coming in at No. 9 when she became CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ). (As CEO of eBay (EBAY), she was on the list from 1999 to 2007.) Longtime MPW Carol Bartz lost her job MORESep 29, 2011 7:00 AM ET
|Homeless college students seek shelter during breaks|
|Another strong quarter for Smith & Wesson|
|Five things you didn't know about Bernie Madoff's epic scam|
|Don't fight it. Bitcoin has a bright future|
|Snowden docs had NYTimes exec fearing for his life|