Science and math are what initially drew Evelyn Marchany Garcia to the pharmaceutical industry. But her deep passion for people and patients is what took her up the ladder in the biopharmaceutical industry to Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Marchany Garcia started working as a bench chemist in her native San Juan, Puerto Rico, when she was still a student at the University of Puerto Rico in 1990. On an island with a booming pharmaceutical industry, she knew her skills would be in demand. But in her second year of work at IPR Pharmaceuticals, a part of AstraZeneca, she made the shift from being a chemist to a shift supervisor—a change that she says brought her natural leadership traits to the surface.
“When there were complicated technical issues, I moved away from my comfort zone and sought to transform things as a team with a unified purpose,” Marchany Garcia says.
Following fifteen years at AstraZeneca, she worked at Schering-Plough, Merck, and Novartis. Today, she’s VP of external manufacturing quality at Bristol-Myers Squibb, ensuring products are manufactured in a safe and compliant manner complying with global regulations. Key to all her work is combining her love of leading others with her inquisitive spirit and passion for problem-solving.
When it comes to difficult situations or challenges, Marchany Garcia has helped companies address them, leading several transformations throughout her career. “Each experience has been an amazing opportunity. I want to come in and lead an organization to engage all and deliver results,” she says.
Marchany Garcia has memories of improving the reliability of product supply to the US market, while ensuring those products were manufactured safely and compliantly. This was in an environment where market demand fluctuates, requiring the manufacturing operation to be flexible and adaptable. At the time, teams there operated in silos and disconnected, which led to poor communication and performance deficiencies.
“The other thing that was missing was, I think, the passion and the spirit to achieve something bigger as one team,” she says. “The culture was just tired. They were just working. And that needed to change, from the point of view of, you know, having people come to work because they want to come to work and add value.”
“People need to feel that they are in a place where we, the leaders, take care of them.”
Along with digging into solutions on the business side, Marchany Garcia met with people at various sites each month to understand their concerns. Making sure people were properly taken care of was just one aspect of improving the workplace, she says. Smaller, simple changes made a huge difference and included improving cafeteria options, facilities, and even uniforms.
“People need to feel that they are in a place where we take care of them,” Marchany Garcia says.
The way she sees it, opening a channel of communication with team members at all levels creates a symbiotic relationship that can help everyone grow. She seeks out feedback from her employees and peers—as well as those she reports to—in order to understand ways she can continually improve.
“Everybody makes mistakes. When it happens, I really don’t beat myself up,” she says. “I try to understand what I could have done differently. That is my learning every single day.”
In 2015, Marchany Garcia was recognized at Sandoz, Novartis with the company’s presidential award for leadership after only five months at the organization.
Bristol-Myers Squibb recruited her in July of 2018 and she has led various quality organizations at BMS since then. Recently, she was appointed as vice president of external manufacturing quality, starting her new role in the beginning of 2020.
Marchany Garcia knows well from her personal life how to navigate challenges. She’s married to a woman, and her family had to move to the US so she would be able to obtain legal rights for the two daughters her wife carried. She puts in effort to participate in company initiatives at Bristol-Myers Squibb where she can share her personal story with employees and serve as an example of courage and uncovering.
“I really want to make sure people can be supported,” she says. “For the people that are not in corporate, it’s super significant when you have someone like me being open about it and supporting them.”
Principles By Which Evelyn Marchany Garcia Leads
- Act with trust, honesty, and integrity
- Have open and honest communication
- Treat everyone with respect at all times
- Assume good intent and execute with good intent
- Be accountable
- Deliver results
- Be willing to make hard decisions
A desire for openness and connection across departments is something Marchany Garcia cultivated early in her career. Looking back on her time as a chemist, she likens the scientific labs figuratively to mazes: “When you go in, you are constricted to that space. You are in a place where it’s easy to isolate from the broader organization—you become like a culture within a place.”
She prefers to transcend boundaries and hierarchies.
“I go out to try to understand how the process works . . . and engage with different people at different levels,” she says. At Bristol-Myers Squibb, before her recent appointment, she led internal manufacturing quality, with nine leaders reporting directly to her. Each of them was responsible for overseeing one hundred to two hundred employees at different locations around the world. Marchany Garcia is mindful and balances the intent to meet and connect with everyone with the crucial ability to be closer to the operation when the right level of detail and understanding is required. At the same time, she maintains her holistic view according to her global responsibilities.
“When you help others identify their unified purpose, when you’re open, when you’re honest, when you’re humble, when you let people get to you and you are authentic with them, you can achieve anything,” she says. “As a leader, you will drive results; you will make things happen with an engaged and determined team that wants to get there. I think that’s my success formula.”