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Making Moves: 4 Pieces of Career Advice I Would Give My Younger Self

February 26, 2019 | Express Scripts

Celeste P. is the vice president & general manager of Operations, responsible for leading contact center operations and the member & home delivery services strategy and transformation organization. One interesting fact about Celeste is that she and her husband, along with a fellow pharmacist and colleague, co-direct the BESt Pharmacy Summer Institute, a program that educates and prepares talented multicultural high school students for future careers in health care.

When looking back at my career, one thing is immediately clear: I took on quite a few different roles in quite a few different business groups. And while the path has not always been as I envisioned, each step in my journey has allowed me to further unleash the potential in myself and others.

After graduating from college with a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD), I accepted a pretty traditional role as a retail pharmacist. After a few years, a clinical specialist opportunity at Merck-Medco Health Solutions (acquired by Express Scripts in 2012) presented itself. It’s taking this role that I credit with changing the course of my career path.

You see, I accepted this job knowing nothing about the Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) industry. While I went in with plenty of clinical knowledge, I had little business acumen. Thoroughly enjoying the mix of clinical and business, I didn’t hesitate when presented with an opportunity to enter new territory working with clients at Express Scripts as a clinical program manager. Over the next 5 years, I held roles of increasing responsibility within Sales and Account Management before finally landing in Operations.

Today, I am the vice president & general manager of Operations. My role spans contact centers, resource management, continuous improvement, strategy and transformation and much more. I am honored to be able to lead a team of over 4,000 employees who have a direct impact on the lives of patients and their caregivers and whose mission it is to provide an effortless and exceptional experience to all we serve.

As I’ve said before, my career path led me to a lot of different roles with a lot of different business groups. But, if I’ve learned one thing throughout my career, it’s how to take calculated risks and get out of my comfort zone. However, it’s no secret that this is not the easiest thing to do. So, in hopes of making this simpler for those who follow me, here are a few pieces of career advice I would give my own children to help them make career moves:

Get out of your own way

So often we let our insecurities and doubts cloud our judgement. After all, it’s much easier to tell ourselves “no” rather than to ask ourselves “why not.” Early on in my career, I believed you should stay on the straight and narrow career path. This was more out of fear that I would mess something up or not live up to expectations.

As I grew in my career, I began to realize that most successes start with a willingness to take calculated risks. I started paying attention to those people, both at work and in my community, who I considered successful and realized that they all had one thing in common – a willingness to bet on themselves.  They overcame any self-doubt and replaced it with the courage to take their skills, talents, and leadership to new heights.  So, when uncertainty tries to take over, remember that there’s no one else worth betting on in your career than yourself.

Understand the company culture

When it comes to understanding company culture, there’s no manual, no formal lesson, and no one who is going to proactively teach you this skill. That’s why you have to ask. And mentorship helps. Find one person on your team or in the organization who has been there for a while and is well connected. Once you’ve formed a relationship with them, ask them how team members like to be interacted with, whether they prefer in-person meetings or calls, how decisions are made, and where the landmines are. Each company has its own culture and understanding how to grow and excel within that culture is key.

Strive to be a lifelong learner

Regardless of your role or tenure, you have the opportunity every day to learn a new skill, solve a new problem, or collaborate with new people. This often comes in many different flavors – reading books or articles, participating in leadership development programs, volunteering for stretch assignments, mentorships, or spending an hour walking in someone else’s shoes.

I come to work every day knowing that there’s something new to learn – a unique way of addressing a challenge, a novel leadership strategy, or a new appreciation for the work that someone else does. This serves as an inspiration to continue to improve myself and those around me. No matter how small or big, take advantage of the opportunity to learn something new each and every day and remember to bring someone else along for the ride.

Be cognizant of the shadow you cast

Once I got to the point in my career where I was taking on leadership roles, I started concentrating on my personal brand and how I was perceived not just by my direct reports, but by others in the organization. How was I leading? Was I being authentic? Was I proud of the work that I was doing and how I was doing it? I began to take the time to define for myself what I wanted my brand to be…what I wanted others to think of me and say about me when I wasn’t in the room.  This meant not only defining my brand but also committing to live out the behaviors and attributes of that brand every day.

As a leader and really as an employee, you have the ability to influence what you want your personal brand to be.  However, it’s important to remember that your personal brand is not something that you have to constantly announce to others. People will see your brand through your actions. They want to see if the example you set and how you lead your team makes them want to model your behavior or run far, far away. As leaders, someone is likely modeling their behavior after us, even when we’re not paying attention.  It’s up to us to ensure that behavior is one that we’d be proud to see replicated.

Interested in furthering your career with an opportunity at Express Scripts? Check out our career site for a full list of open positions.

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4 thoughts on “Making Moves: 4 Pieces of Career Advice I Would Give My Younger Self

  1. Leonard Black, RPh, CPh

    Celeste,
    So glad I took the time to read this article. Recently moved to the STL are from Tampa Bay and am an Express Script alum. Have applied to E.S. and it is difficult to get in full or P/T. You reminded me that I need to take an introspective look at myself and what I have to offer and find new ways to open doors. Thanks

    Reply
  2. Christine Field

    Celeste, your thoughts were very interesting and seemingly, so true. You gave me much to think about – Thank You.

    Reply
  3. Doreena Bryan

    This is a very inspiring article,it makes you realize that it’s good to step out of your comfort zone at times in order to grow.

    Reply

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