VP, Workforce Strategies and Chief Diversity Officer, CVS Caremark
MY GREATEST STRENGTH
I feel my greatest strength is curiosity. From the earliest days of my youth, I’ve never been able to just accept “just because” as the answer to why and how things work.
My curiosity benefits me and our business, because I constantly challenge myself, my team, and my colleagues to be clear about why we feel compelled to take on certain initiatives and how they will help us achieve enterprise objectives. If we can clearly articulate the answers to those two questions, we know we’re adding value. We also grow personally and professionally as it challenges us to really know and understand the business we’re in.
My Christian faith is my greatest source of inspiration. It provides the footing for me to be the best husband, father, sibling, friend, and professional I can be. While I know that not everyone is a Christian, or even practices a religion for that matter, I always encourage people to find something in their lives that will give them a reason to persevere through the tough times.
Although they are both deceased, I would also say that my parents still inspire me to be the best version of me I can be. It was very clear to me growing up that they always put their family first and gave all they had for us every single day. We seldom had all of the things we wanted, but they found a way to provide the things we needed. If it meant they didn’t eat dinner to make sure us kids had food, that’s what they did. I wake up every day knowing their legacy lives on through me and the life I choose to live.
HOW I MOTIVATE OTHERS
I believe actions speak louder than words. I would never ask someone to do something I wouldn’t be willing to do myself or haven’t already done. There are a number of barriers and hurdles I’ve had to cross in my life, and I suppose there are more to come. I try to take every opportunity I can to share those with young people who may face some of those same challenges, to let them see firsthand that it can be done.
OUR GREATEST CHALLENGE
It’s not easy to identify a singular issue or dilemma, as there are often many symptomatic tentacles attached to any societal challenge. That being said, I think one of the greatest gaps I still see is in education.
The lack of education leads to a lot of things, none of which are positive. I have always been a firm believer that knowledge is power. Without a doubt, there are a myriad of factors driving the opportunity divide and many programs making measurable inroads, but more times than not, there seems to be more focus on remediation than on preventing these gaps from occurring at earlier life stages.
The demands of my personal and professional lives never allow me to give back as much as I would like, but I do make the time to give back to youth and health-related programs and organizations. I think it’s vitally important that youth come into close and credible contact with professionals who can shine a light onto the paths they may soon be taking themselves. I frequently serve as a mentor, volunteer, and board member for organizations with a focus on youth or health care for underserved communities. I currently serve on the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts and Year Up Providence boards.
Develop a Plan A (best case scenario) and a Plan B (bad to worst case scenario), write them down, and share them with someone who can and will hold you accountable to stay on track. I’ve typically set five-year markers for where I’ve wanted to be personally and professionally. It’s important to have a Plan B, because things don’t always go as planned. It’s critical to understand that early in life, and not get discouraged in things veer off track.
And at each five-year milestone, take the time to reassess and modify your goals as needed. Many things change over the course of our lives; the goals you set at the age of 20 may be vastly different than where you would like to go next at the age of 40.
It starts with being clear about how you define balance for yourself; no one else can define it for you. How I define balance may not work for someone else. There will be times I have to return an email at 11:00 p.m. and times when I will need to leave the office at 3:00 in the afternoon to make it to my son’s basketball game. The best way for me to explain how I find balance is this: I put the things that matter most, first in my life whenever I can. I work hard, but I also make it a priority to take time off when I feel my batteries are drained.
I certainly hope that my three children will look back and have memories of me being a present and positive influence. Also, after more than 20 years of marriage, my wife and I still schedule date night once a week!
I’ve realized that I’m not perfect—I can’t do it all and I have to cut myself some slack for that. I’ve held leadership roles the majority of my professional life. In my earlier years as a leader, I was very paternalistic. I felt I had to know and provide all of the answers for my teams. Over the years, I’ve learned there are a lot of people out there smarter than me. The best way for me to lead is to hire good people, set them up for success, get out of their way, and let them do good things.
Don’t just take inventory of your skills and abilities, but also be clear about your passions. You may not always be able to align those two at every step of your career, but you should strive to keep them in balance as much as you can. There may be a lot of things you CAN do, but you should live your life with no regrets by also focusing on doing the things you WANT to do and enjoy doing. As Stephen Covey once said, “Don’t spend your whole life climbing the ladder to only realize once it’s too late, that it’s leaning against the wrong wall.”