Charles Agyemang is used to people relying on him. As a Communications Specialist with the Air Force National Guard, he has the responsibility for maintaining the radio frequency transmission systems that air crews and pilots trust with their lives.
Likewise, as Manager for one of the Downstream Processing teams at Bristol Myers Squibb, Charles has the responsibility of ensuring the safe, continued production of vital medicine for cancer patients all over the world.
That sense of responsibility is intrinsic to everything Charles does – and explains the path of his career and how it eventually brought him to BMS.
“I love to help,” Charles explains, when we asked him about what originally inspired him to serve his country as a reservist with the Air Force National Guard and then what led to him pursuing a career in biopharmaceuticals. “That's exactly what I’ve brought to my team here at BMS. No matter what, we get the job done and you’re happy you get to contribute so much to people’s lives.”
It’s difficult to understate the significance of that contribution. At Bristol Myers Squibb’s
assDevens, Massachusetts Single Use Facility, Charles and his team contribute to the manufacturing of state-of-the-art biological medical products that offer cancer patients a better, healthier life and make a cure for their disease a real possibility.
“It's very critical and important work because we have to get this medicine to the patients,” Charles says – a mission no less important than any he’s undertaken while in uniform.
That mission is part of the reason why his role at BMS aligns so well with his duties as a reservist – but another part is the sense of family and camaraderie he’s found here.
“When I joined BMS, I sensed a real family feel here. Everybody here's willing to help you, which is something familiar from the military side, where we’re always helping each other. When I got in here, I realized I’d joined another family that will help me grow just like the Air Force.”
Part of that sense of camaraderie stems from Charles’s work schedule, in which he and his team cover the vital third shift that generally runs four days a week from 9:30 P.M. until 7:30 A.M. the following morning.
As a military veteran, Charles is no stranger to working unsociable hours, and he actually appreciates both the flexibility and opportunity offered by working overnight.
“You have a lot of time to learn and focus on that shift,” Charles explains. “Because we’re a small team, you’re not tied to any one particular process – you have to be somebody who can multitask in various areas, which means you get the opportunity to work in all the areas we have.”
That flexibility and variability have provided Charles with a lot of on-the-job learning experiences that have helped him rapidly advance his career during his time with BMS.
“When I started, I was a Senior Manufacturing Associate – and from there, after learning about all the operations and what we do here, plus communicating and asking questions, I was able to advance into a new role as a Specialist. Then, the same way, I got to the next level, which was a lead and later a Supervisor role.”
Roles on the overnight “off-shift” are occasionally difficult for companies to fill, but Charles is a first-hand example of how irregular hours can actually be the perfect fit for some candidates – especially veterans looking to find a career that feels as meaningful to them as serving their country, while also offering opportunities for growth.
Helping new hires acclimate to a new schedule is another responsibility that Charles is happy to take on.
“I take the time to coach new arrivals to the third shift and help them get used to it,” Charles explains, “and now they love it. It’s because of the sense of family we’ve created here—how we help each other out—and the flexibility as well.”
There are many opportunities at Bristol Myers Squibb’s 89-acre campus in Devens – especially for veterans looking to develop their careers and learn new skills. Our site uniquely offers three different manufacturing facilities on a shared campus, including a new Cell Therapy facility and two biologics facilities: the Single Use Facility and the large scale Cell Culture Facility. Currently, BMS is in the final phase of constructing a new state-of-the-art Cell Therapy manufacturing facility, scheduled to be completed in 2023, which will offer even more roles to perform the meaningful and interesting work that makes a difference in the lives of patients every day.
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