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Mission Critical — Two Veterans Make the Career Transition to BMS

April 5, 2023
Career GrowthCell TherapyInclusion & DiversityVeterans / Military
Careers Home  /  Career Stories  /  Mission Critical — Two Veterans Make the Career Transition to BMS

Many veterans and active service personnel find Bristol Myers Squibb an exciting place to do interesting and meaningful work in support of BMS’s global mission to provide life-changing medicines to patients. These employees — from recent veterans to those who’ve been in the private sector previously — are vital contributors to our patient-centric work culture.

This is why BMS is committed to ensuring ex-service personnel, like Christopher Krzyzak and Johnathan Sulikowski, are welcomed and valued here, and are given plenty of opportunities to build upon their experiences and grow their careers. Inspired employees inspire others, and we look to our veteran community as well as our active servicemen and servicewomen to help lead the way.

Veteran Employees Bringing Their Best Selves to Cell Therapy Careers

Christopher Krzyzak Supervisor of Inventory Management, CAR T Warehouse Operations
Christopher Krzyzak Supervisor of Inventory Management, CAR T Warehouse Operations

Christopher, Supervisor of Inventory Management, CAR T Warehouse Operations, served in the Marine Corps for 22 years where he was involved in aviation operations and logistics. These were highly specialized roles that demanded a specific skillset, knowledge of complex regulations, and an incredible attention to detail.

When he left the service and entered the private sector, he applied his experience in various operations positions for a few years before discovering a whole new opportunity at BMS — Warehouse Operations Lead in CAR T Cell Therapy, another highly specialized role that was perfectly suited for his skillset and background.

“In the Marines, there was quality control. There was quality assurance. So, working for a pharma company that also had those same aspects was no surprise. Instead of flying airplanes, we're delivering medicines.” Leveraging his military and private-sector leadership experience, including as a senior instructor in the Marines, Christopher was soon promoted to his current position as Supervisor. He believes this kind of commitment to excel is second nature to many veterans.

“Having that constant change is definitely a help because nothing in the military is ever really stress-free, so to be able to work under pressure and multitask to get everything done quickly is an advantage,” said Christopher.

Recent veteran Johnathan, who after serving in the Air Force as a maintenance crew chief, enjoyed just about “two weeks off” before joining BMS as a Material Handler, also with the CAR T Cell Therapy team. “I like to stay busy and was excited to start my next venture outside the military as soon as possible.”

He chose BMS because of the personal connection he had to the company’s mission, and CAR T specifically because, like Christopher, it aligned with the skills he acquired in the Air Force.

Veteran Skillsets Apply to Biopharma

Johnathan Sulikowski, Material Handler CAR T Warehouse Operations
Johnathan Sulikowski, Material Handler CAR T Warehouse Operations

Constant attention to detail and an ability to effectively multitask took on a whole new meaning for both veterans at BMS. CAR T Cell Therapy, which must quickly provide customized medicine to late-stage cancer patients, often operates at a high level of urgency — and pressure. Efficiency, a can-do attitude and teamwork are key.

This has motivated each veteran to explore new ways of working among their respective teams. Johnathan, for instance, took on additional responsibilities including an initiative to improve processes, which not only got him noticed, but also led to a new role within the organization.

“It’s great to have a job that has some more meaning behind it, like in the Air Force, where I was serving my country and seeing the bigger picture. My work in CAR T makes me proud to be a part of BMS.”

Christopher evaluates success one patient at a time.

“With CAR T it's not like you're just mass producing a pill everybody takes. Our process is focused on one person, providing therapies tailored to an individual. Therefore, everything we do impacts that one patient, which adds more satisfaction and pride in what we do. We’re successful because it means something to that person fighting a serious disease. My father passed away from cancer, so I’m inspired to do what I can for others.”

Community of Veterans at BMS

During their BMS journey, Christopher and Johnathan have relied on and given back to other veterans through the Veterans Community Network (VCN), a BMS People and Business Resource Group. This kind of tight-knit community has helped many veterans make the transition to the civilian and corporate world, as well as encourages them to explore educational and career development opportunities at BMS.

Johnathan looked back on his recent transition from the Air Force and what he learned about himself and BMS’s work culture. “A lot of people here, not just veterans, are very helpful. They are definitely willing to assist in any way they can. But you have to put in the work, you have to show you have the skills to take on more responsibilities or a new role. People here notice when someone is very career-focused and they’ll go above and beyond to help.”

Christopher’s advice for incoming and recent veterans like Johnathan is to be flexible, be open to new ways of operating, and be mindful of how to do your best work. “There's so much going on here that once you get in the door, you can go anywhere. Whether it's HR, IT, engineering, processing suites, warehouse, it's wide open.”

Continuing to Make a Difference

BMS is extremely proud of the contributions our veteran colleagues like Christopher and Johnathan make every day solving shared challenges and enjoying shared successes. Whether you’re on active duty, in the reserves, or a recent (or a not-so-recent) veteran, BMS offers various fulfilling careers in critical roles nationwide such as in CAR T Cell Therapy. You’ll be exposed to many opportunities to develop new skills and take on new responsibilities as you grow with us. If transforming the lives of patients with serious diseases is the kind of mission you’re looking for, explore open roles today.