From performing in “The King and I” at the age of 6 to being one of the most influential leaders in the Human Resource sector today, Christopher McCormick has established himself as an example for many.
Despite being an out gay man in the 90s Corporate America, which was considered taboo, he discovered self-confidence and eventually learned how to be the best version of himself. When it comes to his professional career, being a Talent, Development and Inclusion Partner at Gilead Sciences, he has successfully incorporated a growth mindset and neuroscience principles into management theories.
Some of Christopher’s volunteer experiences include working as an Executive Chairman of a non-profit providing programmatic efforts to develop regional events and offers for organizations and businesses a way to connect and harness thought leadership and positively impacting the community. He has also led transformative learning programs that allow participants to explore new realms of potential and achieve new outcomes in the areas of their lives that matter most to them as a Seminar Leader at Landmark.
On an Expedition as a Professional
Christopher began his professional career at the age of 6. He grew up doing professional theatre and studied it in college, eventually becoming a professional adult actor and started taking on corporate jobs to “really pay the bills.”
While doing his corporate gigs, Christopher realized he had a lot of transferrable skills that added a ton of value to his workplace. He has become an Award-winning HR leader, and key thought partner to CEOs, Executive Leadership Teams, and Board of Directors with 20+ years of experience across top financial services, retail, technology, healthcare, and life science companies.
He is known for his strength in managing cross-functional teams, influencing ability, and fostering diversity and employee development. He successfully brought growth mindset and neuroscience principles into management philosophies.
Through Obstacles and Clashes
When you start working at such a young age, you gain experiences and perspectives along the way that are not the same as your peer group. Christopher was making money and hanging out with adults in the workplace for most of his childhood. He was directing shows and “telling adults” what to do by 16.
While all of that was valuable, when you enter a corporate job at an early age and with limited “corporate experience,” he found it difficult to have people take his ideas, feedback, and input seriously. They would see him as an early in his career or a junior person. When really, he had likely been working professionally, albeit in a different industry, but working for as long as some of the more “senior” people had.
Christopher struggled earlier in his career to feel like he had a say or voice. Being a gay man in corporate America in the 90s was also a bit taboo; he covered a lot of his true self or his voice earlier on. It took him quite a long while to own his brand, his self-confidence, and find his voice.
“The great news is I did find it. It just took me a while. I’ve also had to forgive myself for not finding it as soon as I thought I should have,” says Christopher.
An Influential Leader
Over the past year, Christopher has led the work to define and identify “Manager Effectiveness” to equip managers, drive inclusive behaviors, and hybrid working best practices.
Additionally, using agile and change management methodologies, he has led the work and benchmarking efforts to build the Return to Site guidance which continues to assess, monitor, and solve for the future of work and the employee experience at Gilead Sciences Inc.
Gilead Sciences and Its Tower of Strength
Gilead is a biopharmaceutical company that has pursued and achieved breakthroughs in medicine for more than three decades to create a healthier world for all people. The company is committed to advancing innovative medicines to prevent and treat life-threatening diseases, including HIV, viral hepatitis, and cancer. Gilead operates in more than 35 countries worldwide, headquarters in Foster City, California.
Gilead has promoted equity, particularly healthcare equity since the company brought its first therapies to the market. Through global partnerships, Gilead’s medicines today reach millions of people in low- and middle-income countries worldwide. In the United States, Gilead has committed more than $100 million over ten years through the COMPASS Initiative® to community organizations working to combat HIV in the U.S. South. In 2020, Gilead launched the Racial Equity Community Impact Fund to support organizations tackling racial inequities affecting Black communities across the United States.
Maintaining a Flexible Work Culture
G.Flex is a global framework of flexible work options and guiding principles that encourage more flexible ways of working. A balanced approach builds on their belief in the benefits of co-location while providing employees with more flexibility to work where and when they are at their best.
“My role is to ensure our People Managers are empowered to activate our G.Flex program and ensure they are providing an equitable option for all their employees. We also are focused on developing better hybrid ways of working so that no matter where you are or where you are working from, you feel included and valued to contribute your best,” shares Christopher.
Leveraging Technology in All Its Form
There is no doubt that Technology has played a critical role in their success as human beings and as organizations still able to contribute during a global pandemic. Technology is critical. At Gilead, they need it as an enabler in how they continue to innovate, streamline and be efficient in their work.
Christopher further expresses, “Technology doesn’t replace human connection, though. And we need that now more than ever. We need to continue to have meaningful conversations that create connections and build trust. No “AI” is going to be able to replace that. As leaders, we have to manage that delicate balance of when to use Technology and not let it use us.”
Changing the Face of Human Resource Niche
According to Christopher, the hybrid will be the way they work going forward. He recently was on a call hosted by the NeuroLeadership Institute. Their study found, and he loosely quotes, “A third of the workforce preferred to be “in-person.” A third preferred to work remotely. And the other third preferred to have a hybrid/flexible model.”
The key insight they shared is that wherever each third preferred and got to operate from, that is where they were most productive. Christopher finds that fascinating.
Aim for the Future
“My goals in 2022 are to ensure we are embedding Inclusion & Diversity into everything we do, from redefining Talent and Careers to increasing manager effectiveness throughout the organization,” said Christopher, “My longer-term goals are to continue to grow and develop as an HR professional. I’d love to be a CHRO within the next 5-10 years. I still have a lot I want to accomplish along the way.”
A Word of Counsel
According to Christopher, we all compare each other and try to find what others have and what we don’t. Maybe it’s a nice house, car, better relationship, cool job. Whatever it is, try asking yourself what they sacrificed to achieve that. Ask yourself what you can learn from them to get that or something similar and what changes you should make in yourself.
Christopher credits his friend Andy Storch for this one: “When you meet or see people who are doing things you want to do, instead of being envious, try asking yourself what you can learn from them and what you need to do to accomplish the same. And if you can’t, focus on gratitude for what you have and go live your life the best you can.”