Sydney Klein, Senior Vice President, Chief Information Security and Data Officer

Sydney Klein

Career journey at Bristol Myers Squibb

Encouraging women and UEGs to pursue and grow careers in STEM has required us to rethink conventional hiring practices that may exclude otherwise high-potential candidates. We spoke with Sydney Klein, Senior Vice President, Chief Information Security and Data Officer, about her own hiring journey at BMS in 2018, and her approach to ensuring that her team is growing in all the right directions. 

Q: What was the hiring process like for you and what did you learn from it? 

Sydney: From the very first engagement I had with BMS, I felt the deep level of support for STEM candidates and for matters of diversity, inclusion and belonging. My interview panel included three of our BMS leadership team members, two of whom are women. I was awestruck, as I was coming from a company that didn’t have representation like that. Fast forward, I had been at BMS a week, and I’m in an IT leadership team meeting, discussing roles that need to be filled. I remember hearing my colleague say, “Here’s the role that I’m hiring for. I’m lacking this perspective and this industry experience. My team is very male-dominated.” He was really looking at the team’s needs from a broad perspective, not just which specific capability we need, but how this hire would impact our larger vision.

Q: How are you building your team to incorporate more diverse voices and talent?  

Sydney: In IT, it starts at the very beginning. We are educating our managers on how to create a better requisition. How do you make sure that job descriptions aren’t turning off a specific population? For example, we know that women are less likely to apply for roles for which they don’t meet all of the criteria, while men, research says, apply for a role that they might fit 60% of it.2 So let’s recognize the difference between required elements and desired elements. Let’s change the way we hire. Instead of focusing on questions detailing our candidate’s past responsibilities, let’s focus on the candidate’s potential and transferable skillset. 

Q: What have you learned that might help other women and UEGs build careers in STEM?

Sydney: Early in my career, I often was the only woman on the team, the only woman in the room and the only woman in a meeting. That can make a person feel vulnerable. At one point someone told me that I wasn’t technical enough and I allowed that to become my personal narrative. Later, I was speaking with a very senior person about a new capability that I wanted to lead and I said, “I want to do this, but I know I’m not technical enough.” She stopped me right there. “That is not true,” she said, “and you can never say those words again.” Then she walked me through why that narrative was damaging to me. She helped me see that I was fully capable, that I was technical, and that I wouldn’t succeed if I continued believing a false narrative about my capabilities. It was a turning point for me and something others in STEM should take to heart, as well.

Q&A

Career journeys at Bristol Myers Squibb

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  1. Stephen F. Austin State University. “EEO Ethnicity and Race Categories ”https://www.sfasu.edu/hr/documents/NewEmployeeData_Definitions.pdf
  2. Mohr, T. “Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified.” Harvard Business Review (2014)
  3. Deloitte. “Big demands and high expectations. The Deloitte Millennial Survey” (January 2014) https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/About-Deloitte/gx-dttl-2014-millennial-survey-report.pdf
  4. Feder, M. “One Decade, One Million more STEM Graduates”. (December 18, 2012) https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2012/12/18/one-decade-one-million-more-stem-graduates
  5. National Science Board. “The State of U.S. Science and Engineering 2020”. (2020) https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsb20201/executive-summary
  6. UNCF Patterson Institute special tabulations of data from the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (2018 data collection year)
  7. Association of American Medical Colleges. “Diversity in the Physician Workforce: Facts & Figures 2014”. (2014)
  8. According to Bristol Myers Squibb 2020 employee survey
  9. According to Bristol Myers Squibb 2019 employee survey
  10. According to Bristol Myers Squibb 2020 Global Diversity and Inclusion survey
  11. Verified Inclusion Partner certification developed in partnership with the NeuroLeadership Institute
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