If you told Paula Manchester that you weren't good at math, she wouldn't believe you.
"That's a global indictment," she says. "'I'm not good at math' implies that you don't have the ability to nurture that muscle. And then I'd ask what kind of math? There's a lot to math."
Instead, she'd introduce you to a growth mindset perspective: "Try 'I have not yet been exposed to differential equations. Let me open the book and start studying, let me get access to teachers and tutors who can help me understand this, let me begin to practice,'" she says.
"A growth mindset says, 'There's nothing that I can't do. It's just that I need to learn how to do it, I need to practice doing it, I need to have the right circumstances in order to achieve this goal.'"
Throughout her long career as a leader in healthcare and pharmaceuticals, Paula has leaned on her growth mindset when approaching new challenges, expanding into new responsibilities, and understanding her mistakes. (Because yes, even an expert leader still makes mistakes, and cultivating a growth mindset means there's endless opportunity to learn from them!)
We sat down with the Senior Director of Global Commercial Development at global biotech firm CSL to learn more about how Paula's growth mindset shows up in her life and her work.
Determining her path towards growth
When Paula entered Stanford as an undergraduate, she thought her next academic stop would be medical school. She started down that path, taking psychology classes where she first learned about concepts like the growth mindset.
Instead, she got an MBA at Northwestern.
In between those two educational experiences, Paula determined what kind of life and career she wanted to have.
It was during an internship at a historically Black college's medical school that made her realize that she didn't need to be in the room with patients in order to positively impact their experience. "My eyes were opened to the ecosystem of healthcare," she says, "and I realized it would probably be a tighter match between some of my interests in terms of how people make decisions. I knew I could make meaningful contributions without necessarily going to medical school."
Following her interest in how patients were informed about their health, Paula pursued a career in marketing and communications, working at Merck and GSK before taking on her role at CSL Behring. Now she leads the marketing strategy in the transplant space, partnering with the company's R&D team to bring potential new therapies for those patients into the world as regulatory-approved products.
"It's exciting because it means that patients who have been through so much might not have to worry about losing their kidney, going back on dialysis, and maybe even having to go through years and years of waiting for yet another kidney transplant," she says of an investigational treatment in development that aims to address antibody mediated rejection of transplanted organs like kidneys. "The work that we do every day means that somebody can hold on to that very precious gift of life that they've been given. That brings me energy every day. It gives me inspiration. It also allows us to be very clear...there's no question—we know we're impacting patient lives."
Growing with others
Business school was the first time Paula really had to learn to be effective through others. "You learn how to drive performance under very tight circumstances in order to produce a high quality deliverable as a team," she says.
Those skills served her well in her post-MBA roles, and have been especially useful now that she's at CSL Behring.
She accepted her current role for two reasons: first, she believed in the company. "When I got a chance to come to CSL a couple of years ago, I was thrilled because of what this company stands for. A lot of companies talk about being patient-focused, but this company lives it; it's woven throughout our DNA," says Paula.
Second, she was intrigued because the role came with a whole new set of responsibilities—and a new group of people to work with and through. "I was attracted not only because of the work, but also the challenge of a larger remit," says Paula. "I knew that I could work across boundaries, not just in my particular swim lane of marketing expertise, but to be accountable for leading a cross-functional team."
She was immediately proven right: her new responsibilities were significant. "People will laugh and say, 'What you wish for, you get,'" says Paula, smiling. "I wanted a larger remit, and that came to me in spades. There's just so much to do, which has taught me a lot about prioritization and flexibility."
Paula credits her ability to stay calm in the face of so much change with her growth-focused outlook. "Every experience I have is an opportunity to learn," she says. "As opposed to setting up a particular decision or opportunity as 'either I will fail or I will be successful,' every event is an opportunity for success because it's framed as an opportunity to learn."
4 ways to incorporate a growth framework into your own life as a leader
Paula has specific tips for anyone interested in becoming more effective by approaching opportunities with a growth mindset:
- Learn to listen well. From being able to pick up on subtle cues in meetings to unlocking coworkers' participation by making them feel heard, Paula says much of her success in seeing challenges as opportunities—and helping others do the same—comes from listening. "Quite frankly, given some of the issues that we're dealing with in contemporary America, I think that there's probably plenty of room for increased listening skills, right?" says Paula.
- Get comfortable reflecting in the moment. "Part of the growth mindset is the notion of not being perfect," says Paula. "There's always an opportunity to get better and better. By reflecting, you can ask, 'How specifically can I get better?'" Paula often will do a quick debrief with herself after conversations and meetings to reflect on how she conducted the conversation, how she listened, how flexible she was, and what her outcomes were. "Reflecting can be very, very powerful," she adds. "As a Black woman in corporate America, it's especially important because of the pressure to be excellent in everything we do. But for everyone, especially in 2021, with what we've been through this last year—COVID, disparate access to healthcare, social distancing, working remotely, the global nature of all this disruption. There's an opportunity to think about what we just went through as a society and to ponder what the lessons are."
- Practice long-term reflection, too. Paula leads after-action reviews for her team each quarter where she asks four questions: what happened, what worked, what didn't work, and why. "It's not a complex tool, but it enables you to remove the emotion, and reveal more of the concrete data. You can leverage the observations of others to provide that perspective that you may not be able to see as a team member," she says.
- Read, learn, and share. If you consistently seek out opportunities to learn something new, whether in the pages of a book or in a classroom or just from a peer, and then you go out of your way to help others based on those new insights, you're well on your way to practicing a growth mindset, says Paula. "Open your eyes and look around—there's somebody who needs [what you have to offer]."
Interested in growing alongside Paula and her team? Learn more about CSL's open roles here or click here to join an upcoming virtual event with Paula and other women leaders at CSL this Thursday, May 27th!
Below is an article originally written by Elizabeth Walker, Chief Human Resources Officer, CSL Limited , and published on October 22, 2020. Go to CSL's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
In recognition of Global Diversity Awareness Month in October, CSL's Chief Human Resources Officer reflects on the positive impact diversity, equity and inclusion has on helping the world's third-largest biotech company drive scientific innovation for patients and public health and why this work is never done.
When you work at a leading global biotech company with more than 27,000 employees serving patients and protecting public health in more than 100 countries, you think a lot about innovation. In fact, you never stop thinking about innovation.
Ensuring we develop and deliver the best science and the best therapies and influenza vaccines for patients and public health hinges on our ability to innovate. And that means having a workplace culture in which our workforce is engaged, inspired and motivated to bring their best, authentic selves to work every day.
As head of Human Resources for the world's third largest biotech, I've seen first-hand how our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) across our organization has not only made our workplace stronger, it's made our work stronger, too.
At CSL, we rely on our people's diverse perspectives, ideas, capabilities and experiences to help us deliver on our promise to patients and protect public health.
Simply put, diversity matters because it's good for our people, it's good for our business and it's good for our patients.
Yet building an inclusive culture where diversity can thrive doesn't happen by accident and it doesn't happen overnight. As we recognize Global Diversity Awareness Month in October, we must continually reflect and listen to both the needs of our employees and the communities where we operate and live around the globe. True commitment to DEI requires leaders to embrace thoughtfulness, empathy, vulnerability and the willingness to navigate complexity and have hard conversations that many workplaces haven't typically encouraged in the past.
Our company has had a long commitment to investing resources in programs and initiatives that promote DEI, including talent recruitment, retention and development. Each year at CSL we set measurable diversity objectives and assess our progress against those goals annually. We take an active approach to our Corporate D&I Policy, revisiting, reviewing and revising it if needed to ensure our commitment remains true and evolves. What's more, our Board of Directors reviews and approves this Policy on a regular basis, most recently in June, underscoring the importance of our company's efforts.
As part of this regular assessment and reflection, we know we can do more and we are working to do so in the coming weeks, months, and years – from external collaborations and partnerships to additional investment in the development of our people.
Recent events related to social injustices and racial inequality, particularly in the U.S., are deeply concerning and they have indeed shaped our response to how we approach DEI as a global company committed to corporate social responsibility and citizenship. We continue to take a thoughtful and deliberate approach to promoting DEI, one that aligns with our Values of Patient Focus, Innovation, Integrity, Collaboration and Superior Performance.
I'm proud of the many programs and policies we already have in place and continue to evolve at CSL to ensure each of our employees feel respected, valued and heard.
From our hiring processes that include ensuring we have a diverse slate of candidates for all job levels to development opportunities to ensure we retain diverse talent and develop inclusive leaders, DEI must be embedded into all areas of our company. For our patients, this means partnering with patient advocacy groups to ensure we close the gap on health disparities for diverse populations.
To be sure, making meaningful progress must also start at the top and I'm inspired knowing all of our leaders – including our CEO Paul Perreault, our Global Leadership Group and our Board of Directors – take responsibility for DEI. Diversity must also be reflected in all levels of the company as well.
Our Board is fortunate to have the expertise of three incredible female members. With the recent appointment of Joy Linton to our Global Leadership Group, we will become one of only 23 publicly-traded companies on the ASX100 in Australia with a female Chief Financial Officer. Along with Joy, our new Chief Digital Information Officer Mark Hill and me, our GLG is benefiting from more diverse voices, experiences and perspectives.
Fostering a Dynamic Workplace
In an effort to build a dialogue among employees to talk openly about DEI, we have expanded our development workshops and resources on a range of topics, including inclusive behaviors; cultural differences to be aware of when traveling abroad; working with multi-generational teams; and earlier this year, how to have tough conversations at work in response to the senseless death of George Floyd.
Global Diversity Awareness Month is not just a celebration of our differences, but it's also an important reminder that our work to advance DEI throughout CSL is never done. We must continue to invest in it, sustain it and own it. Our people, our communities and our patients deserve nothing less.
As it turns out, that's exactly what she's doing right now as the Senior Director of Global Talent Development at biotechnology company CSL Behring.
"It feels like a dream role in that it covers a broad range of the talent development areas I love and I get to work on a global scale," says Kristen, who didn't know much about CSL Behring when their recruiters reached out. But as she learned about CSL's commitment to saving lives and improving quality of life for people with serious rare diseases, as well as their HR group's ongoing transformation, she knew she had to accept their offer.
We sat down with Kristen to learn more about her career trajectory, how she got into Industrial/Organizational psychology in the first place, and what it's like working at CSL, including what's changed at work as the world adjusts to living in an extended pandemic.
Finding her passion academically and in the job market
Kristen's work in talent development would be meaningful even if she didn't have an incredibly personal connection to it—but she does.
Her dad worked on Wall Street during the 80s in a very stressful job, and Kristen connects his untimely death at the age of 47 with the demanding environment he faced at work. "I've always felt that the stress of his job had a lot to do with the tax paid on his heart," she says. "That was a critically defining moment in my life"—she was a sophomore in college at the time—"and I realized through that traumatic experience that if I could dedicate myself to increasing the satisfaction and reducing the stress people experience at work, that would probably be pretty meaningful and rewarding to me."
She majored in psychology during undergrad, and after taking a class in Industrial/Organizational psychology her senior year, Kristen realized she wanted to continue studying in that subset of the field and applied to grad school. "I/O focuses on human behavior at the individual, team, and organizational levels. That's everything from putting somebody through a hiring process and onboarding them, to motivating them and helping them improve their performance. At the team level, it involves all aspects of helping teams become high performing. At the organizational level, it focuses on areas such as company culture, organizational design and change management," she explains. "It's a super degree that trained me to think big picture and work at both the macro enterprise level and micro individual level. It's also a very versatile degree in that I could have gone into many different areas of the HR function – I just chose to specialize in Talent Management based on what I'm most passionate about."
As Kristen worked to finish her dissertation, she joined a consulting firm and worked with various clients on their management practices and employee engagement issues. She loved the diversity of problems and people she worked with, but over time the travel began wearing on her and she realized she didn't like not being able to see the long term effects of her projects. "I got sick of going into companies, making lots of recommendations and getting new things started, and then not getting to see how the changes and improvements actually played out in the company after the project was finished," she says.
Kristen knew she wanted to find an in-house role, but her particular area of consulting made it clear that she didn't want to work just anywhere. "I was doing employee engagement work so I really saw the underbelly of every organization I worked with. I knew all of their pluses and minuses. And there were really no clients that I would want to work for, except for one that stood out above all of the rest," she says.
She called that client, a joint venture pharmaceutical company that is now part of Takeda, to let them know that she was looking for a new role and asked if they had any positions she could apply for. As it turned out, they were just creating a new position focused on leadership development. Kristen went in for the interview, got it, and stayed at that company 8 years until she and her husband decided to move back to the east coast to be closer to family. She found a job leading leadership development at another pharmaceutical company and stayed for several years, taking on new roles that expanded her responsibilities globally into performance management, career development and succession planning. Although she loved the work, during that time the company was acquired and as the culture changed for the worse, she realized she needed to move on. That's right when CSL Behring came calling.
Directing global talent through a global pandemic
Kristen says that interviewing with CSL felt like she'd found a dream role that brought together many of the areas she is passionate about. "When I was meeting people and hearing them talk about the position, the company and CSL's strong patient focus, it really aligned to my values and the work I like to do. The organizational culture felt more familial rather than corporate," says Kristen.
The role itself, which involved leading an internal transition to create a global Talent Development team, was a perfect complement to Kristen's experience and ambition. "It was just a phenomenal opportunity to come into HR at a time when they were still building. I could really help shape what the talent development space would look like and create a global function for the organization," she says.
Kristen spent the first few years in her role shaping that transition, which officially went live in January 2020. She had just a few months to enjoy it before a whole new priority took over: preparing to transition CSL's workplace and their talent development programs into a completely virtual world.
"Our team sprang into action—we have a fantastic team across the globe who are highly collaborative and always willing to go the extra mile—and the way they handled everything when the pandemic hit was impressive," says Kristen. We quickly pulled together online resources and delivered virtual courses on timely topics such as working remotely, managing virtual teams, dealing with change and uncertainty, and emotional intelligence, to name a few.
We also needed to quickly convert existing training to virtual, which was relatively straightforward to redesign, she explains; they just had to figure out how to adjust their in-person programs to fit a virtual setting, and in fact had already started experimenting, pre-COVID, with ways to do that, in order to offer more scalable and flexible training opportunities and achieve better ROI. Previously, they had experienced a problem with participant cancellations when other work priorities came up that would often leave facilitators teaching to half empty classrooms. Now, explains Kristen, CSL facilitators in Switzerland, Germany, Australia, and across the U.S. offer trainings at various times for employees around the world. "This gives employees more class options to choose from and it's ultimately a better learning experience, because participants hear from each other and learn about different parts of the business, different cultures and different perspectives. It's also great for the facilitators to be exposed to that," says Kristen.
Kristen's team is also responsible for all of CSL's onboarding, but that wasn't as straightforward to transition to a virtual experience in some parts of the world, particularly in the first few days after everything shut down and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security hadn't revised the stipulations for how a new hire's legal documents needed to be handled in a virtual world. "That was a little trickier," says Kristen, smiling.
In the end, the U.S. stipulations were revised and Kristen's team was able to adapt to digital processes for now. As the return-to-office date continues to shift for CSL and many other companies, Kristen and her team have stayed agile, updating their training playbooks and creating plans for whatever future awaits.
"It's important to keep all of what's going on in perspective," says Kristen. "We will come out fine on the other side. We just have to stay focused and flexible."
If you're interested in learning more about CSL, visit their PowerToFly page here.
The core of CSL's mission is to save lives. They are at the forefront of finding biotherapeutic solutions for illness, and not just any kind— the rare and serious are their forte. During this unprecedented global pandemic, we'd be hard pressed to think of a better company than CSL to sit down with for a wide reaching panel discussion featuring several of their leaders.
Speakers from CSL included:
- Melissa Bradford, Senior Director, Global Talent Acquisition
- Wlenyeno Elliott-Browne, Division Director- CSL Plasma
- Rebecca Mims, Director, QA and Compliance
- Sophia Yu, Product Manager- HAE Marketing
- Jasmin Senior Bostic, Senior Manager, Global University Relations & Recruiting
PowerToFly recognizes that "saving lives" carries a heavier weight given the current COVID-19 pandemic. We're proud to partner with a company that is not only implementing measures to protect its employees but is working aggressively to combat COVID-19 across the globe. CSL Behring is developing a vaccine candidate alongside the University of Queensland, formulating a novel immunotherapy with SAB Biotherapeatucis, developing a plasma-derived therapy for virus treatment with COVID-19 Plasma Alliance, and more.
To learn more about CSL, including their open roles, visit their page on PowerToFly.