Spotlight on industry leadership: A discussion with What’s Up With SUPPS’ Diana Morgan

Diana Morgan is a real leader in the dietary supplement industry — passionate about helping others and confident in the belief that the most important thing a leader can do is to be themselves. Mentoring is also a passion project for her, and she’s working to create a mentorship program for the next generation of industry leaders.

Heather Fairman, Founder & CEO, DF Guardian Consulting Inc.

April 17, 2024

7 Min Read
Leadership profiles

At a Glance

  • Meet the “chief fun officer” who co-founded the industry networking group What's Up With SUPPS.
  • She is passionate about mentoring the next generation of leaders and is working to create a mentorship program.
  • She believes the most important qualities for future leaders are using their voice, resilience and integrity.

Diana Morgan is VP of global regulatory and government affairs for Nutrabolt and co-founder of the industry networking group What’s Up With SUPPS. Within the past three years, this group has grown to become a regular networking catalyst, hosting gatherings at most major industry trade shows, expos and other marketplace events.

Through What’s Up With SUPPS, people throughout the industry come together socially to meet each other and have fun in a casual business environment. While leading in this role, Morgan garnered the well-described and deserved title of “chief fun officer,” but she is much more than this. On a day-to-day basis, she leads her regulatory team at Nutrabolt, makers of C4 Energy, Cellucor and Xtend.

Heather Fairman: What is your definition of leadership? And who was most influential in the earlier years of your life in helping you identify yourself as a leader?


Diana Morgan: “Lead by faith, what you believe in. Faith stirs your belief in something, which causes you to put your whole heart and soul into wanting to share that message with the world. This is not limited to only one aspect of your life, but to any aspect of your life; for example, belief that embodies your parenting or the workplace, or other areas.”

Passionate about leading and mentoring others, Morgan also defined leadership as a person having the courage to “take action” on something in their heart and doing so in the face of criticism from others.

Morgan emphasized, however, that courage is really the major pillar in leadership, as it is the principal action that she believes makes the difference. The courage to take action to go to the next step distinctly separates leadership from just leading others. Morgan demonstrates this year-round as she takes amazing, imaginative steps along with the “Supps Squad” in designing the What’s Up With SUPPS-themed networking events that have brought together the global industry. 

As for the influencers in her life, Morgan shared there have been many who have impacted her greatly, including an ongoing list of industry leaders and colleagues as well as those that comprise the What’s Up With SUPPS board.  She believes mentors are in your life for a purpose, for either a season or for a lifetime, and they make a distinct difference in a mentee’s life.

She mentioned the profound influence of one of her former bosses while at Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, Elizabeth Zafonte, as a life-changing mentor who greatly contributed to Morgan’s success and inspired the What’s Up With SUPPS name. Zafonte’s leadership impact on her life further inspired Morgan to co-found a mentorship initiative for building succession leadership in the industry.

Fairman: What was the most important lesson you learned very early in your career as you stepped on the first “rung” toward being a leader?

Morgan: “I’m meant to be myself.”

Leadership is an uphill climb. Morgan was the target of bullying while growing up through elementary and high school. With not many to share her plight with, she endured all the bullying, which she said actually made her a stronger person. Morgan learned how to independently keep going and fought through this experience. As she grew in her roles within the different companies she served, one of her earlier mentors recognized her enduring character as resilient, which affirmed and solidified her belief in herself and in the authenticity of knowing who she is.

Morgan mentioned a podcast she watched about Jennifer Lopez, who’d been criticized and compared early in her career as a rising new singer. Lopez defended her success and her singing voice by telling her critics, "I'm not supposed to sound like Aretha Franklin, I'm supposed to sound like Jennifer Lopez!" It’s her voice and no one else’s. Morgan explained this resonated with her in such a way that it made her realize growing as a leader meant recognizing who she is and standing up for being yourself.

True leaders are ladder builders. As one who “observes and absorbs” her environment and the people around her, Morgan is impassioned to help others grow. She demonstrates a life and work ethic of thinking about others and is gifted at pulling out the creativity and potential that lies within those in her presence. She builds the leaders around her. Throughout her years in various leadership roles within the industry, Morgan has often provided mentorship and created opportunities for others, particularly for upcoming generations.

With this inherent passion and in conjunction with other industry colleagues, Morgan is in the early stages of forming a mentorship program designed to provide support, guidance and mentoring for the generations arising within the industry. Building succession is key, she said, especially in these critical times of changes and challenges facing the future of the industry and nation. 

Fairman: What would you say is the single most important impact you could make as a leader in the industry?

Morgan: “We have to remember that we are one industry. There are a lot of issues facing the natural products industry as a whole that require our collaborative focus and efforts to overcome. It is necessary we unite as an industry and come together for a greater cause, and that is to change the narrative that the dietary supplement industry is not regulated.”

Morgan’s response to this question is a clarion call to come together to address growing concerns such as New York’s emerging law restricting access to certain sports nutrition supplements for youth, the patchwork of other state laws affecting the industry and ingredients, and FDA’s drug preclusion law.

Morgan said the division resulting from differing thoughts and opinions is resulting in too much infighting and disagreement among industry leaders. Her ultimate desire is to be more proactive with this messaging and help encourage unity in its demonstration.

Fairman: With a focus on the future of the industries you serve, how important is it that the upcoming generations are mentored and trained to lead?

Morgan: “Mentees need to do the work!”

Morgan believes a key focus in a mentoring relationship is ensuring mentees have a passion and hunger for the industry and want to learn and do the work — and that they don’t just think that showing up gets it done, she added. It’s in the “doing” that they will grow and succeed.

Morgan believes strongly in the power of mentoring and the impact she has seen it have, not only in her own work and life, but in the lives that she’s invested in over the years of her career. It’s not about focusing on oneself, or one’s ego, Morgan said. It’s about giving guidance and advice to others who may be unsure about where they fit in the framework of the industry. In the “mentor-mentee successor program,” Morgan shared, it’s about identifying the mentee’s potential and developing them as successful future industry leaders.

Have you ever walked into an unfamiliar store and spent much longer than you wanted to, wandering around looking for a specific item? The better experience is walking in and asking a store attendant where the product is, going straight to the directed location and leaving the store with the item. Morgan likened the mentoring process to providing such targeted direction. “It’s helping the mentee fast-track their career through someone who has already been through it.”

It’s also about training mentees in soft skills and technical skills, and teaching about key historical timelines specific to the industry. Morgan believes this approach is unique and will further build impactful relationships and connections on the mentor-mentee level. 

Fairman: What are three key values that you would impart to the next generation of leaders within the sports nutrition and dietary supplement industry?

Morgan: “Use your voice to make change; resiliency; practice what you preach.”

• “Use your voice to make change.” With so much going on in the industry, Morgan said her first value is using one’s voice for change and advocacy and not being afraid to do so. She shared this value with fervor in her earlier response to bringing unity to the industry.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes,” Morgan advised, commenting on the importance of “resiliency.” “Everyone makes mistakes,” she acknowledged, “but that only means you are trying something new.” Morgan said the people who really become successful are those who are not afraid to be beginners.

• “Practice what you preach.” Those in the natural products industry — an industry of health and wellness — should work toward having a healthy lifestyle. Developing a holistic lifestyle of physical, spiritual and emotional wellness may be difficult sometimes. But Morgan’s final word encouraged, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

About the Author(s)

Heather Fairman

Founder & CEO, DF Guardian Consulting Inc., DF Guardian Consulting Inc.

Founder and CEO of DF Guardian Consulting, Heather Fairman is a skilled science and executive professional with over 30 years’ executive leadership and management experience with highly effective results in regulatory affairs, QA/QC environments in the dietary supplement, food supplement, supply chain segment, biologics, OTC pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.  She is a sought-after independent consultant, transformational thought-leader, writer and certified speaker and trainer, who also serves as the key technical advisor responsible for leading the development of raw materials for the herbal supply-chain market for the SIDS DOCK Island Women Open Network (IWON), an intergovernmental organization which has all the rights and privileges of a United Nations organization comprised of 32 countries. Fairman has assisted and led companies through numerous FDA audits; assisted with FDA 483 responses; averted recalls and warning letters; and established effective quality management systems, sustainable compliance and regulatory infrastructure, and organizational programs that have fostered and established mutually beneficial contract manufacturer partnerships. Connect with or contact her via LinkedIn

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