Career journey at Bristol Myers Squibb
Uniquely designed education and skills development programs for women and underrepresented ethnic groups (UEG) have been a core investment for 15 years, resulting in increased promotion, lateral movement and retention for participants.
Toni Brock started her career at Bristol Myers Squibb in cardiovascular sales in 1997. Today, she is the Vice President, Corporate Analytics and Transparency.
Q: How did you get involved in leadership development programming at Bristol Myers Squibb and what was that experience like for you?
Toni: I participated in one of the first Insights for Success program cohorts. At the time, the program focused on Black/African American employees to ensure began building our careers at Bristol Myers Squibb. Through a variety of exercises and activities, we learned to understand our role in corporate America and how we could actually advocate for ourselves, which doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Managers aren’t mind readers, so if you aren’t speaking up, if you aren’t talking with them about what you want, they won’t know how to advocate for you. I still take this into account as both an employee and now a manager myself.
The program was helpful because it showed me how things work and the opportunities that could be available to me. I learned that I have to get noticed by people. People have to understand the work I’m doing and the value I’m bringing to my team and the company. In addition to having others advocate on my behalf, I have to be my own advocate in order to move forward.
Q: How has your experience helped shape you as a manager and how are you helping your employees create their own path?
Toni: My experience has been great at Bristol Myers Squibb, but this is not necessarily the experience of every Black/African American. When I started my career at Bristol Myers Squibb, there were numerous Black/African American leaders, so I had the privilege of working with very successful women who happened to look like me and I thought, “Okay, they can do it. I can do it.” I had them as role models.
As a manager, I work with colleagues across the organization to help them get to the next level. We’ve started a rotational program for the Business Insights and Analytics (BI&A) group, for example, meant to help bring in talented people of color. The program exposes them to all facets of BI&A, but also to senior leaders so they too can aspire to leadership roles like I was able to.
Q: What advice would you give to people about growing their career at Bristol Myers Squibb?
Toni: First, a piece of advice I received early in my career, is to tell people what you want them to believe about you. When I came into my role, I took that to heart. The more I talked about my skillsets and the areas I excel in, the more people heard it and gave me opportunities that fit my skills and areas of interests. It’s important to believe in yourself and to make sure others believe it, too. The second thing is to create opportunities for yourself. For instance, a number of times in my career I saw a gap and I turned it into an opportunity. I created jobs for myself that didn’t exist. There are so many opportunities out there. You just have to look for them and be willing to say, “I’ll do that.”