A fascinating option among the myriad of available Human Resource positions at Bristol Myers Squibb is that of the HR Business Partner. It’s both a strategic and collaborative position with a focus on empowering people and the business in a joint mission with the end goal of serving patients and transforming their lives through science.
Varshini Iyer and Brian Pauta came to BMS via different paths to find a seat at the table as thought partners in senior leader facing roles. As HR Business Partners, they leverage business strategies, people strategies and insights to deliver innovative organizational and talent solutions within our CAR T Cell Therapy and Global Business Operations respectively.
As Associate Director, Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP) for Global Business Operations (GBO) and Information Technology (IT) Brian works with senior leaders at these organizations to help develop workforce strategies, from talent development to employee engagement. It’s a critical role — part of BMS’ Enabling Functions group — to make sure colleagues around the world have the resources and support to do their best.
“I consider myself a coach-slash-consultant. My number one role responsibility is trying to create an engaging culture for BMS employees.”
Both organizations Brian is partnered with are part of BMS’ Enabling Functions group, which provides key support for every organization around the world. “We're like the wheels that keep the bus moving. For instance, the people I partner with in finance and IT in turn provide vital services to global drug development and early research. I consider HR, which is part of Enabling Functions, to be behind-the-scenes wizard makers.”
After earning a degree in industrial and organizational psychology, Brian began his career as an HR specialist for various large corporations, steadily taking on more responsibilities as his career grew. He joined BMS as an HRBP supporting cardiovascular development, an experience that became a personal and professional milestone.
BMS was in the process of acquiring a small but notable biopharma company that specialized in a particular cardiovascular drug. Brian was the HRBP who helped the company with the transition, retaining nearly 100% of the talent. Just as he was moving from supporting cardiovascular to supporting Enabling Functions, he learned that the drug had just gotten FDA approval. “I saw it from the beginning all the way through to product launch, so I saw the fruits of my labor.”
Honing the Cell Therapy Competitive Edge
Varshini, Senior Human Resources Business Partner, Cell Therapy (CT), brought substantial HR and pharma experience to BMS, beginning with US Commercial before moving on to Cell Therapy Operations & Development.
Cell therapy is a highly complex form of treatment whereby a patient’s own cells are used to create a sophisticated medicine designed specifically for them. The science is rapidly evolving, which brings its own challenges. For someone like Varshini, that means having a deep understanding of the demands of the field and the need to find and retain exceptional talent who can do this important work.
As an HRBP with Cell Therapy, Varshini is in effect the liaison between HR and the approximately 4,000 people working in BMS Cell Therapy around the world. From the groundbreaking science to the ultimate purpose of helping patients prevail over serious diseases, she equates her work in Cell Therapy more to a calling than a job. It’s a powerful story, one Varshini believes is worth telling.
“CAR T Cell Therapy is extremely competitive. It’s important that potential hires envision their connection to patient outcomes. Telling the BMS story is compelling and goes a long way in getting someone excited about coming here. It’s more than just filling a particular role. What we’re really saying is, ‘Are you ready to join us on this mission to actually change lives?’ That is a huge advantage.”
Brian thinks the culture at BMS is what inspires his colleagues to build fulfilling careers here, even if they’re not directly involved in patient outcomes. “It's always about how patient-centric the company is. I'm not specifically on the line making these drugs or finding these molecules, but I am supporting the leaders who will ultimately help our patients. It's a big part of who we are.”
Varshini’s commitment doesn’t end with new hires but extends to coming up with strategies to retain and engage coworkers.
“I believe that the best way to empower people is to give them the space and to let them be. In that regard BMS is really open. We make sure we’re driving a culture of continuous learning and growth, and helping employees accelerate and achieve their aspirations. Basically, to support a work environment where everybody feels welcomed, valued and part of something greater — this larger mission of what BMS is trying to do for patients.”
For Brian, embracing inclusion and diversity is essential to a thriving work environment that strives to transform lives. It’s a balance between finding a diverse mix of talent as well as knowing how best to enable them to succeed. “Diversity is having the right spices in your kitchen cabinet, but inclusion is knowing how to use those spices to make an awesome meal.”
Empowering People to Make a Difference
Human resource management at BMS represents a unique type of meaningful and interesting work that offers its own opportunities for personal and professional growth. Driven by our mission to transform the lives of patients, colleagues like Brian and Varshini represent what’s best about those who choose to work here. Explore career possibilities in HR at BMS today.