Balancing Your Aspirations & Abilities as a Leader

Victoria Emerick
Victoria Emerick
June 27, 2024
Victoria Emerick, Executive Director & Global Head of Corporate Sustainability Strategy & Operations at Bristol Myers-Squibb, doesn’t have the traditional EHS & Sustainability background you might expect. Holding a PhD in biochemistry, she spent 20+ years in pharma research and development prior to accepting her current role.

As a keynote panelist at the upcoming WOMENLEAD24 conference, Victoria will share real-world insights on how to be an impactful leader. NAEM’s Executive Director Carol Singer Neuvelt and Victoria had a chance to connect about making bold, scary moves and why success doesn’t always mean fulfillment.

Carol: Can you share an example of a bold move you made during your career that helped you achieve success?

Victoria: In 2017, I reached a realization that despite the "success" I had achieved over my 20+ years in pharma research & development, I was lacking a sense of fulfillment. After engaging in a period of self-reflection and receiving encouragement, I marshaled the courage to apply for the role I currently hold: Global Head of Corporate Sustainability Strategy & Operations. Taking this step felt like a bold, scary move. However, it turned out to be a transformative decision that opened an entirely new world for both my career and personal growth.

Soon after assuming this role, I quickly discovered that all my previous experiences were directly or creatively applicable to the challenges and opportunities within sustainability. Trusting in my abilities, my new colleagues, and the external community I became a part of became crucial to my professional development and personal satisfaction.

Carol: Knowing what you know now, what piece of career advice would you give your younger self?

Victoria: Throughout my journey, I have relied on my instincts and intuition to guide my decision-making process. However, as I have grown and matured, I have come to recognize the value of incorporating external perspectives and allowing myself the necessary time for self-examination and reflection. If I could offer advice to my younger self, it would be to consider not only what I excel at, but also what truly brings fulfillment and purpose to my life. It is important to align my choices with my passions and aspirations, rather than solely focusing on my abilities.

Carol: Which leadership skills came naturally to you and which ones did you have to work on? 

Victoria: Confidence, resilience, empathy, adaptability, integrity, and emotional intelligence are inherent qualities that have been deeply ingrained in me. Growing up in an environment that fostered these traits, coupled with my experience as a nationally ranked competitive athlete from a young age, further reinforced their importance.

As an introvert, I recognized that communication and delegation were areas that required dedicated effort. I invested significant time and energy into honing these skills because I understood they were essential to showing respect to others. This realization made the process easier and more natural for me.

Carol: What are you looking forward to most about WOMENLEAD24?

Victoria: WOMENLEAD24 comes at an opportune time, as the world and many organizations are currently undergoing significant change. This change has led to personal and professional uncertainty for many individuals. In response to this, WOMENLEAD24 offers a distinctive opportunity to unite professional women from diverse sectors, organizational levels, and career stages. The conference aims to foster open and honest conversations, encourage the generation of fresh ideas, facilitate meaningful connections, and create a sense of community among attendees.

Join Victoria and many other talented and successful female leaders in EHS & Sustainability at WOMENLEAD24 in Providence, Rhode Island, July 23-25, 2024. Learn more at

About the Author

Victoria Emerick
Victoria Emerick
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.
Victoria Emerick has a PhD in Biochemistry and certifications in Project & Change Management as well as Lean & Six Sigma. Over the last 25 years, she’s focused on strategic operations, continuous improvement, & enterprise level project planning & management. In her current role as the Executive Director and Global Head of ESG-Sustainability Strategy and Operations, Victoria is responsible for developing innovative approaches to advance ESG-Sustainability awareness, commitments, efforts, and investments across the global Bristol-Myers Squibb enterprise. She is the Chair-elect of the Sustainability I Council Executive Committee for The Conference Board, a member of the Biopharma Sustainability Roundtable, Sustainability Leadership Forum, IFPMA Working Group for ESG, and the CSR Board and has served as the BMS leader for engagements involving the UN Global Compact, including the Lead 2030 collaboration with One Young World and the UN Young SDG Innovators Program.

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