From the early stages of molecular testing to drug product launch, Worldwide Oncology Commercial (WWOC) at Bristol Myers Squibb plays a pivotal role alongside research and development teams. WWOC brings a commercial lens to the development process, thus assuring viability and ensuring cancer patients have access to our oncology portfolio. Accordingly, the organization relies on teams of accomplished professionals from various backgrounds like Irene Mac, Executive Director, and Andrew Witriol, Vice President, who found in WWOC opportunities to learn fast and grow fast and take advantage of BMS growth opportunities, while doing some of the most interesting and meaningful work of their careers. They and their teammates around the world continually apply their diverse scientific, market and analytical expertise to help shape commercial strategies that can transform the lives of patients.
From US to Worldwide: Careers Without Borders
From an early age, motivated by a desire to help people, Irene knew she wanted to get into the healthcare field. After learning from a family member how a pharmacy background could open doors to different careers that aligned with her goals, she chose that area of study, earning her PharmD in the process. Through that, she was exposed to various roles and work environments, giving her insight into where she wanted to go next.
“In my university's PharmD program, you have the opportunity to complete internships and rotations across different areas and disciplines,” she said. “So, you get a taste of what retail looks like, what a clinical role within a hospital looks like, and even what the industry may potentially look like. After doing my rotations, I figured out I did not want to do retail. The pharmaceutical industry really piqued my interest and more so the commercial side.”
Setting a goal to develop a career in commercial led Irene to pursue her MBA, during which time she demonstrated her potential in a summer marketing internship at BMS. She joined BMS full-time through our Commercial Leadership Development Program for top MBA graduates.
.Beginning with her tenure in US commercial and then in the Worldwide organization, Irene accelerated her career, going from Associate Director to Executive Director in under four years. She credits the pace of the work and the dynamic and supportive environment in WWOC that gave her the challenge to expand her abilities.
“The need to be able to act quickly while working with incredibly smart people cross-functionally challenged and pushed me,” explained Irene. “In Worldwide, you’re solving complex issues that you don’t see in a market role. It's been very eye-opening and has helped me build on my experience and build a strong foundation for me to continue my career at BMS.”
Purpose-Driven and Patient-Focused Professionals
Coming from a business and marketing background, Andrew’s BMS career spans nearly 20 years in various roles, beginning with a marketing internship and advancing through such areas as product management, global marketing, US commercial strategy and operations, and oncology sales. Along the way he leveraged these experiences to build his leadership skills, strategic thinking and market insights. This career path and experience gleaned along the way prepared him for his role in WWOC, as well as his next move as Vice President for US Hematology Marketing.
“My degrees were helpful in getting me to the next step,” he said. “But equally important has been my own career journey and having a plan to grow each step of the way. I started with gaining local market experience in the US market before moving into strategic roles in Worldwide, but there are multiple career paths one can take. My path is my path, and there’s no one right way to do it. There are people who don’t have market-level experience who work in Worldwide and are just as successful. The value WWOC places on having diverse experiences is what makes it a special place to build a career.”
Andrew’s early career at BMS wasn’t initially in oncology, but he was able to make the transition thanks to his desire to learn, and not just the science and the cross-collaboration, although those had a big influence. He also found oncology a particularly meaningful place to work, knowing the direct impact he and his teammate’s efforts could have on the lives of cancer patients. He encourages other like-minded professionals accordingly.
“We're looking for people who want to learn,” said Andrew. “People who can learn the science, who are good at managing the matrix and thinking strategically, and who positively add to the culture. That applies to people with oncology experience, and to people without it. Everyone knows someone impacted by cancer, so to have the opportunity to work in this therapeutic area is, no doubt, very special.”
As for finding success in WWOC’s learn fast, grow fast culture, as well as keeping up with the rapid pace of the science behind oncology, Andrew believes it requires being a self-starter with curious, nearly insatiable interest to stay ahead of the curve. But also having a passion for doing what’s right for the cancer patient.
“Most days I get to look back and say, ‘I helped advance a therapy that has a direct impact on someone who’s out there, waiting for a solution to help them prevail over a serious disease.’ I get a lot of energy from that.”
Careers in Commercialization Can Change Lives
Irene and Andrew are just two examples of how working in Worldwide Oncology Commercial can be a career trajectory, a transformative opportunity to learn fast, grow fast — and make a difference in the world. Learn more about careers at BMS and read about other BMS colleagues who found empowering work that can transform lives – including their own.