Future Forward: Inspiring the Next Generation of Leaders in Hematology/ Oncology
You know the adage: leaders aren’t born, they’re made. How exactly does that happen? At BMS, it comes down to attracting the right talent who are not only driven to succeed, but also lead — and in turn inspiring others as they pursue interesting and meaningful work.
Two rising stars in Hematology, Ranjita Gurijala, Assoc. Director, HCP Marketing, and Lauren Soll, Assoc. Director HCP Marketing, US Hematology, discussed their experiences with leadership culture with Ester Banque, SVP and General Manager of US Hematology (Commercial). Ester is no stranger to the topic, having devoted much of her career to encouraging and inspiring new talent, particularly emerging women leaders at BMS. She calls it her passion, and in many ways, it’s her second calling, because for Ester, authentic leadership is another way BMS can achieve its mission to transform the lives of patients.
“Leaders at BMS take their responsibility to serve patients better very seriously," said Ester. "Also, as the company grows, we’re improving our work and processes to ensure that we can focus on what really matters, which is helping patients.”
Ester invited Ranjita and Lauren to share their perspective about inclusive workplace culture, alternative career paths, and what leadership means to them at BMS.
Shortly after earning her graduate degree in chemical engineering, Ranjita worked as a consultant for BMS. But even back then she felt included. When she finally came on board full-time, the transition was “seamless,” which for her spoke volumes about the leaders on her team. “They helped bring me along and inspired me to officially join BMS."
With a background in psychology plus work experience with business insights and analytics, Lauren transitioned from a market access role to one in marketing. That opportunity also presented her with one of her first career challenges while demonstrating the power of inclusivity.
“I was brought into a conversation to make some large business decisions. The leader asked me point blank, ‘Lauren, what do you think?’ She was asking me that question based on my diverse experience and the fact that I likely would have a different perspective than everybody else who maybe had more of a traditional path. It was eye-opening because I felt so valued, and I really felt like I contributed.”
Both have carried their experiences into their own career development as they’ve grown and thrived in new roles. They are now working with people across many levels of the organization, including those more junior to them and they are bringing that element of inclusive leadership to ensure everyone on their respective teams has a voice.
“It’s the quiet people in the room who sometimes have the most brilliant ideas,” Ranjita said.
Ester has seen firsthand how workplace culture has changed for the better, how people feel more encouraged to contribute and managers are more open to listening to them. Commonly known as “speak-up culture,” this trend has gotten significant traction in many industries recently and is one that BMS actively supports.
Speak-up culture is founded on opening lines of communication between people of all levels and senior management, and enabling colleagues to raise a hand, flag an issue and point out when something isn’t working as well as it should.
For both women, it comes down to trust. Ranjita believes that in order to truly foster speak-up culture, people need to see progress towards the changes and issues they raise or, if those changes can’t be implemented, companies need to communicate “the why.” And Lauren sees it as a two-way street — an opportunity for leaders to provide coaching or mentoring, and for direct reports to provide managers with valuable feedback. When a company makes significant strides toward speak-up culture, everyone benefits.
Paths Less Traveled
The group reflected on positive shifts they’ve seen including diversity expressed as a tangible value, not only among leadership roles but also among talent, particularly those who’ve come to BMS from less-traditional career paths.
“We’re seeing diversity in terms of different ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, and so on, but also diversity of perspectives,” Lauren said. “People are valuing experiences that may be different from those who’ve moved up a very specific career chain, which is very encouraging. For those of us who don’t come from traditional backgrounds, I see a future at BMS given that some of this evolution has been happening here, which is very exciting.”
Ranjita also echoed Lauren’s thoughts and how her experience has added to her success at BMS. “That process doesn’t seem to exist anymore in which you have to do ‘A’ and then ‘B’ and then ‘C’ in order to achieve your goals. I started in chemical engineering and now I'm working in marketing, which sounds wild, but I love what I do every day and I'm very passionate about it.”
One for All
Ester brought up women in leadership roles, an area near to her heart as she’s had direct experience with advancement and is passionate about inspiring the next generation of women leaders. Ester refers to this as “walking the talk.”
“We've seen a lot more women reaching leadership positions,” said Ranjita. “From my perspective that means I see a path for myself to one day have that opportunity, not only as a woman but also someone who’s a first-generation American."
Lauren has been incredibly inspired by seeing more women being promoted, as well as people with different family backgrounds and needs. “That’s just another area to me as a young woman with hopefully a very bright career ahead of her, just to see all those different flavors of family life worked into leadership positions as well.”
If you’re looking for the kind of workplace culture that values diversity, fosters inclusivity, and inspires the next generation of leaders to help transform lives, explore the latest opportunities today at BMS.
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