Kristen Baldwin, Chief People Officer at Selecta Biosciences, joined our Integrated Talent Management class as a guest speaker. Before joining Selecta recently, Kristen was CHRO at The LIVEKINDLY Co., and she still does coaching and consulting work with CEO.works. Earlier in her career, she held HR leadership roles at Bayer and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Companies and also worked with other consulting firms.
Because she has worked in different settings as a transformational leader, consultant, and project manager, there are many ITM topics that Kristen could address. However, we were fortunate to hear her reflections and advice on the topic of “purpose.”
Kristen grabbed the students’ attention by describing companies that truly embrace business as a force for good, with skillful leaders who realize they are energized by working toward a greater good and making an impact.
In these organizations, it is not uncommon to have updates on CO2 credits intermingled with other business metrics. Kristen talked about purpose-driven organizations providing an opportunity for linking purpose to work. And Kristen took this point further: even if someone is not currently in this type of organization, most people benefit by knowing their “WHY.” Knowing what motivates us allows us to align to what gives us energy and, as much as possible, to link our work to our purpose.
Kristen also described life in a start-up, where she needed to build HCM practices from the ground up. She shared a best practice to take inventory of current state and to break priorities into short, fast cycles. In her recent experience, Kristen saw herself always flexing and actually unlearning some things in order to be agile.
Students were interested to hear advice about making a career/industry shift. Kristen pointed out that some organizations are less focused on industry-specific experience. This situation could give an opportunity to position and market oneself from a “diversity-of-thought” perspective. She also shared that it helps to find someone in a target industry to help one network and learn.
As she wrapped up, Kristen shared that she is no stranger to Columbia, having earned her MBA from Columbia Business School. She described her Columbia degree as dramatically changing her career trajectory. She encouraged students to go beyond “checking the box” to complete assignments and to really apply the experience.
Thank you, Kristen, for a highly engaging session!
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of any other person or entity.