How I Became My ‘Own Fairygodboss’ and Grew Into the Role I Wanted, All With My Manager’s Support

Sponsored by Bristol Myers Squibb

Ferreira Newnam

Photo courtesy of Bristol Myers Squibb.

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June 16, 2024 at 7:31PM UTC

“When I come to work, I am always excited to be joining the most amazing set of talented colleagues in the industry and to be a part of a company where what I do matters,” says Ana Ferreira Newnam, executive director of Oncology Competitive Intelligence at Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS). “[We] help bring medicines that have the potential to impact patients’ lives.”

Newnam became an executive director in January 2021 and tells us that she’s proud to be the team lead of 11 talented individuals of diverse backgrounds. “Together, we form a highly dynamic and high-performing team that is perceived as a best-in-class strategic competitive intelligence (CI) partner,” she says. For Newnam and her team, no two days are the same, and, through it all, she is “continuously looking for ways to innovate and cultivate an inclusive and diverse CI team by proactively engaging and fostering a culture of collaboration and strategic partnership,” says Newnam.

Here, Newnam tells Fairygodboss more about what her team does — as well as how she pivoted her career to end up leading her team and her advice for other women making similar career changes. Here’s what she had to say.

What made you decide to make a career change and pivot to your current role?

I have an MBA in marketing and, before joining BMS in February 2016, I had focused my career on Market Research and Brand Planning. So, when I had the opportunity to join BMS in Competitive Intelligence, I hesitated at first. But, after speaking with other BMS employees, I quickly realized that I shared the same values and that BMS was the place for me.

Although I didn’t have direct reports when I first came to BMS, I have always felt energized and passionate about leading a team and developing talent. So, with the guidance and support of my manager, I created and executed a development plan that has brought me to where I am today — leading a team of 11 highly talented individuals.

How did you make this switch, and how did BMS support you in this process?

BMS has a strong people culture with various development and mentorship programs that I have been fortunate to have become a part of, including PBRGs, GD&I, Possibility Lives and CDT. I am also fortunate to have a culture that supports people’s development by creating a rewarding environment, cultivating leadership values and allowing for work-life balance

How have you benefited from the skills/experience you’ve gained in your career journey? How did you grow into your current role?

As a result of many years of experience in various roles and industries, taking on new challenges, making a lateral move (and even taking a lower-level role), leading teams of various sizes and being an individual contributor — as well as pivoting quickly in an ever-evolving work environment — I have been able to grow a diverse skill set with a depth of experience that is unique to me. This has led me to my current role.

First, on my path to my current role, I identified a need within the organization, developed a solution and then gained the support of my manager and stakeholders to execute my plan. This then enabled me to double the size of the team with a new structure that is better aligned to support the current oncology franchise and allow for future growth.

What do you find most interesting and meaningful about your current work?

While one of the most interesting and rewarding aspects of my role today is the ability to mentor and guide others and see them grow in their own careers; the most meaningful outcome of what I do is to see how the work translates into helping bring our medicines to cancer patients and others in need. 

What is your best piece of advice for other women who are thinking about making a career pivot?

Follow-your gut. If you are not happy in your current role, then it’s time to move on — you are the only one that can change that (no one will do it for you).

Is there anything else that you’d like to mention? 

Another piece of advice: It is so important to like the manager that you report to. While sometimes it might feel like you don’t have control over this, just remember you are your own Fairygodboss.

Are you inspired by Ana’s career journey? Explore the BMS Career Stories blog and discover how Bristol Myers Squibb is building life-changing careers through meaningful growth opportunities.



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