Meet Me in 5 – developing careers across all levels with ASCEND

Our ongoing “Meet Me in 5” series covers 5 people, topics or questions to illustrate how Covance nurtures exceptional people, provides an energizing purpose and enables extraordinary potential in its employees’ careers.

In this article, we interviewed members of the employee resource group ASCEND, which stands for Achieving Success through Communication, Engagement, Networking and Development. Find out how this group aims to empower young professionals at Covance and Labcorp by building and retaining the next generation of leaders.

1. Recognizing the potential of young professionals

Krista, a Senior Grant Payment Associate, had been at Covance for a few years when she recognized an area where Covance could create additional learning and networking opportunities for young professionals like herself.

“I noticed that there was great communication from top down with blog posts and interactive Town Hall meetings, but there wasn’t a direct communication pathway from individual contributors up to the top,” explained Krista. “I felt it was a gap I could address.”

2. Making an investment in career growth

Young professionals, like Krista, wanted various ways to grow within the company. Forming an official employee resource group was one approach to show how Covance invests in this talent pool.

Across the enterprise we have many different types of employee resource groups, ranging from interests supporting diversity, veterans, LGBQT advocates and allies, among others. Each group is run by volunteer employees and focuses on increasing awareness of their communities, which helps strengthen the company’s commitment to an inclusive working environment.

“It took our team of volunteers about a year from conception to launch ASCEND,” said Krista, who also serves as the head of the ASCEND board. “We wrote a mission statement, created an events list and found an executive sponsor, Lisa Uthgenannt. It was a great learning experience and showed how individual contributors could stretch themselves and grow when they work across the enterprise to drive initiatives forward.”

3. Creating a supportive learning environment

ASCEND is helping young professionals identify and build their strengths by giving them an environment of camaraderie through several different platforms.

“To further empower our young professionals to grow within the company, we have put on several face-to-face and virtual meetings where executives are invited to talk about their career paths. We also hold ‘Lunch & Learn’ meetings where small groups have lunch with managers who host a Q&A session on career development topics,” said Aleigha, a clinical team lead who is participating in the Covance Management Development program and volunteers as a board member of ASCEND.

“We’ve received very positive feedback and look forward to holding future informal meetings,” she said. “We hope to encourage and support young professionals across the enterprise by creating opportunities for networking and bringing together people across all levels that might not connect otherwise.”

4. Providing value to current leadership

ASCEND doesn’t just provide value to young professionals. The group also helps educate and inform leaders who manage young professionals on their teams.

“In five years, an estimated 75% of the workforce will consist of people that are part of the millennial generation or younger,” said Krista. “For current and future managers, it is important to know the dynamics of the people you will be managing, understand more about their experiences and know how to motivate them. That’s why ASCEND welcomes anyone who wants to join. We are enabling success at every level in a career.”

5. Enabling future leaders at Covance

The ASCEND employee resource group is excited about its plans to grow and create even more local chapters.

“There is a lot of talent across the enterprise,” said Krista. “We hope to harness the power of young professionals and identify future leaders. ASCEND is a great way for young professionals to get exposure to leadership groups and help develop their skills.”

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