This week’s Learning and Development action call hosted special guest Judy
Kelley, Head of Global Growth and Development at Bristol-Myers Squibb. Martin was interviewed by i4cp CEO and
co-founder Kevin Oakes. Here are some highlights from the call:
Impact on organizational culture from going remote.
While BMS does have some employees who did not start working remotely in spring
(e.g., research scientists and those in manufacturing), most of the company did
make the switch. As other organizations have experienced, Kelley noted some
interesting changes she has seen such as increased authenticity of leaders,
including some leaders now doing videos on Fridays that are a mix of personal
and professional updates. Also, the integration of their massive acquisition of
Celgene has been aided in some ways, as everyone had to change in the same way
together, so many legacy BMS and legacy Celgene ways of doing things fell away
Culture is critical during any major M&A event.
As i4cp's recent research made clear, focusing on culture is critical to the
success of any merger/acquisition (i4cp members can see the report Avoid
Acquisition Acrimony: How to Analyze Culture Synergy Early). For the BMS
acquisition of Celgene, one area of focus has been collaboration across the
leadership team, where they've taken time to really focus on team
effectiveness. Both organizations were mature and so had established company
values. But it was important to ask what are the new, combined company values?
The leadership team worked on this, and then rolled them out and focused on one
each week to employees. A key to making the integration work has been 600
volunteer culture change champions, the on-the-ground leaders of culture
change. The enterprise L&D team has enabled them with a toolkit of short
documents and other resources, and there are leader-led sessions that have also
Learning culture and a focus on managers is key.
BMS is similar to Microsoft in having a learning culture, an organization of
learn-it-alls, not know-it-alls, with a particular focus as noted above on
patient outcomes. Psychological safety is key here to drive innovation, to take
good risks, etc. An employee's relationship with their manager is critical to
strike the right balance, as is having strong processes and procedures as
safeguards to work within. Kelley noted that BMS makes a differentiated
investment in their 7,000-strong manager population, really focusing on the
skills needed to support their teams. Live manager forums are one approach they
take for this, with around 3,500 usually attending live and others watching the
BMS has made a major commitment to health disparities
and diversity. BMS has been quite public in their response to diversity,
equity, and inclusion matters in 2020, as DEI is a key part of their culture.
In August, combined with the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, BMS announced
a $300 million combined investment that will focus on five areas: addressing
health disparities; increasing clinical trial diversity; expanding their
supplier diversity program; expanding their U.S. Employee Giving Program; and
increasing their workforce diversity.
In addition, almost
half of BMS employees belong to PBRGs (People and Business Resource Groups).
I4cp research has found that leadership in such groups can be a key development
tool, especially for diverse leaders in an organization (i4cp members can see
the report The
Untapped Power of Employee Resource Groups). BMS goes further than this by
making leaders of their PBRGs apply for the job and making it a full-time
position. It is temporary and people rotate in and out of the role, often then
moving on to higher leadership positions in the organization.
In addition to this recording, please
see the i4cp Coronavirus Employer Resource
Center for new
research and next practices to help address the COVID-19 pandemic.