I Started Out In A Graduate Leadership Development Program, Now I’m At The Senior Director Level was originally published on WayUp Guide.
It’s a question we all think about: How do you
become an organized, experienced, and inspiring leader at work? While there’s
no one way to achieve success, for many of the leaders at Thermo Fisher Scientific—a multibillion dollar
company dedicated to serving science—that kind of success started in their
Leadership Development Program.
Take Chloe, for example. She started out as a
graduate student intern at Thermo Fisher before joining their General
Management Graduate Leadership Development Program, an elite program for MBA
students in top programs around the country. Now she’s their Senior Director of
Corporate Social Responsibility, leading the company’s efforts to make a
positive impact in the world.
We sat down with Chloe to find out how she
became a leader—and how you can find your own way up, too.
How Chloe Found Thermo Fisher—And A Mission That Inspired Her
Chloe had never heard of Thermo Fisher Scientific before she started
her MBA program at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. However, she knew that
she wanted her success to affect more than just a company’s bottom line.
“I have my MBA, so I obviously do enjoy
working in the business setting, but at the same time, I want to go to work
every day knowing that what we’re doing is making a difference,” she says.
That’s why she connected with Thermo Fisher from the very beginning.
“I was immediately struck by the mission,”
Chloe says. (That mission, by the way, is to enable their customers to make the
world healthier, cleaner, and safer.) “We always like to talk about our mission
first. The things we’re selling are incredibly important. They’re helping
researchers find cures for cancer. And they’re helping to protect the
environment and make sure our food and drinking water are safe. That’s
extremely important to me.”
Learning And Contributing As Much As She Could During Her Development Program
Chloe started her time at Thermo Fisher by interning
with the company’s Corporate Strategy department. During this time, she worked
on high-level strategic projects like revenue synergy plans, an assessment plan
for future acquisitions, and regional growth assessment. As an MBA student in
an elite program, Chloe’s insights were valued and presented to senior leaders,
including the CEO.
After an exciting 10-week summer program with
that team, Chloe’s work impressed the company (and Thermo Fisher impressed
Chloe, too). When she was offered a spot in their Graduate Leadership
Development Program (GLDP), she didn’t hesitate to accept.
That was when her career really started to
pick up steam. The GLDP is a two-year general management development program
that consists of several rotations through departments, offices, and projects
around the company. For her first rotation, Chloe started in a product
management role in Pittsburgh, overseeing a key product line relying on cloud
technology and getting valuable experience in both the hardware and software
space. From there, she moved into a business technology role, working on the
strategy side of a new product launch. Finally, she moved offices to Rochester,
NY and did two rotations in product marketing and supply chain analytics.
“It was a really great way to develop a skill
set for leadership. In terms of being a general manager someday, you have to
know a little bit about everything, so by going through a program like this, it
really gives you that foundational knowledge,” she explains.
Making The Leap To The Director Level—And Beyond
Everything Chloe took on as a part of her GLDP
was essential to her development, but her leap into leadership wasn’t just
because she did her job well. Her professional development was also accelerated
by leaning into the company’s culture and by actively seeking new projects.
“If I felt like I had extra bandwidth,” Chloe
tell us, “I would ask if there was anything else that I could help out with. I
think that goes a long way in showing that you’re committed and it also gives
you more opportunities to get involved in projects, learn more, meet more
This ambition led Chloe to take on new work in
e-commerce, a function she wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise. It turned
out to be an important element of Thermo Fisher’s general strategy, so this was
a huge boost to her as she continued her career at the company.
But her commitment to taking on more wasn’t
just professional. Chloe also wanted to get involved in Thermo Fisher’s
philanthropy and cultural initiatives.
“Here at Thermo Fisher, we have groups that volunteer in the community, we have Employee Resource Groups, we have lots of different ways to lean in and get involved,” Chloe explains.
Chloe got involved with the Pittsburgh
Community Action Council, which contributes to philanthropy efforts like promoting
STEM education to children and teens. She also became an active member of the
Millennial ERG, which helps to promote an inclusive culture of mentorship
throughout the 70,000-person organization.
“If you’re coming in and doing your job,
that’s great, but how else are you contributing? And, plus, both [Community
Action Councils and ERGs] can provide professional and personal development at
the same time as benefiting the company and benefiting your co-workers,” she
“There are a lot of ways to participate, which
all—again—help you build your network and help you develop skills and
contribute to the company’s success,” Chloe says.
Chloe’s approach to success in the program
worked out for her, too. After graduating from the General Management GLDP, she
was promoted to become Director of Corporate Social Responsibility—a task
particularly suited to her passion for making a positive impact. And just this
year, she was promoted again, to become a Senior Director in the same function.
In other words, Chloe is the leader she always wanted to be.
Want to start your own journey to the top—and help change the world while you’re at it? Learn more about Thermo Fisher Scientific on WayUp!