2023 Best Practices
Issue Map
Gold chevrons on a white background.
TD Magazine

Leadership Isn't About a Title

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Christian Furler O'Brien joined Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS), a global biopharmaceutical company, in 2020 as senior manager of US oncology training and talent development. His hire quickly proved beneficial for BMS; he led the sales training strategy for two key launches. Furler O'Brien, recipient of ATD's 2023 One to Watch Award, also leads recruitment efforts for the US oncology team and leads the company's LGBTQ+ Pride Month programming and celebrations.

"There are a few things that have helped me succeed in my career: taking initiative, empowering others, and leading with compassion," he says. "I love collaborating with others on new projects and sparking rich conversations to improve outcomes."


Furler O'Brien has since been promoted to associate director of training and talent development, leading a team of training managers responsible for developing and executing learning strategies.

Leading isn't anything new for Furler O'Brien, however. He's passionate about creating a culture of inclusion, which has led to him volunteering and advocating for nationwide LGBTQ+ organizations. "Additionally, a major source of strength for me has been owning my identity as an out and proud gay man and harnessing it to be a change agent in the workforce," he shares. "I have been involved in LGBTQ+ causes throughout my entire professional career."

Furler O'Brien says one of his proudest professional achievements is establishing an employee resource group for LGBTQ+ employees and their allies because it emphasizes what leadership is all about to him.

"I want people to understand that leadership does not happen because you have a title or specific role," Furler O'Brien explains. "We can all be leaders if we understand our purpose, recognize when more needs to be done, and work in earnest to improve the lives of everyone around us. Leadership skills are life skills; the ability to connect people within your care to a bigger purpose is powerful and inspires positive change."

About the Author

Bobby Lewis is a writer for ATD; [email protected].

Be the first to comment
Sign In to Post a Comment
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.