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Kelsi Black is helping medical researchers do their best work

The senior director of HR and payroll services at Bristol Myers Squibb helps scientists do what they do best: save lives.

Kelsi Black knows first-hand what it’s like to have a close family member suffer from a life-threatening disease; when she first joined pharmaceutical company Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) nearly a decade ago, her mother was being treated for breast cancer. Today, Black and her team leverage ADP’s tools and technology to make sure the company’s researchers can focus on developing new, life-saving drugs. 

ADP ReThink Quarterly: Tell us a bit about your role at Bristol Myers Squibb.

Kelsi Black: I am the global process owner, responsible for the end-to-end procedures that enable the employee life cycle, from time of hire through termination. I also own global payroll processes, reporting services and merger, acquisition and divestiture events. 

ADPRQ: And what first brought you to Bristol Myers Squibb?

Black: I joined the company in 2014. I was attracted by the BMS mission to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious disease. 

At the time, my mother was being treated for breast cancer. I found out that one of the medicines she was being treated with had been developed by BMS, so that was a very valuable connection for me.

Today, BMS has almost 30,000 employees globally in about 42 countries. Our growth has been mostly organic, but we acquired Celgene in 2019, with 8,000 employees mostly in North America, but also in 23 other countries. 

ADPRQ: How do you approach your role at BMS?

Black: I consider myself a services professional. Our mission at BMS is “patient-centricity.” Our goal is to develop and deliver drugs that meet our patients’ needs, that help them beat their medical conditions. Some of our products are biologics, which means they are created in living cells and require focused attention in development and distribution to reach patients at the right time. 

We work to ensure our researchers, product development, and product supply resources can work for our patients without HR or payroll administrative distractions. It’s important that we do our job really well, so others can do theirs — so scientists can discover new drugs. It’s really important that they’re not worrying about whether they’re going to get a paycheck, whether it’s going to be accurate, whether it’s going to be in their bank on time. 

ADPRQ: How were you able to guarantee this level of services while also navigating the acquisition of Celgene? 

Black: We were coming to the end of our existing payroll contract at the same time we acquired Celgene in 2019.

We had to, in essence, expand in 20-plus countries. From a payroll perspective, we had to make sure we could do this without interrupting the payroll services that those employees receive. And that’s regardless of whether they were from the acquired Celgene companies or from BMS’s historical companies. We were looking at finance integration, benefits integration and changes in payroll. 

We knew the employees were going to feel that change. But we wanted to make sure they only felt it once, and that we weren’t affecting them multiple times as we moved through the integration. Maintaining stability for our employees was of the utmost importance. We’ve really tried to live by that guiding principle of only impacting the employee once.

ADPRQ: How did ADP help facilitate that process?  

Black: What differentiates ADP from some of our other providers is the way they collaborate with us. When I think about ADP, what made the difference was in the value added to the services that they could bring. 

ADPRQ: What are some other challenges you’ve tackled together with ADP?

Black: We were keen to provide a better experience for our employees: helping them understand their payroll better, giving them more insight into their payroll information, and just making things easier than they had been. And, of course, allowing our team to be more efficient in the way they delivered payroll was also key for us. 

We’re very lucky to have a relationship with our ADP account managers and project managers where we hold each other accountable. We have clear communication; we talk about problems, and get them on the table immediately so we can work together quickly. 

And what’s key when faced with a problem is working together to understand all of our options and find the best solution. It’s a commercial relationship at the end of the day, but ADP has always been willing to have that conversation with us with an open mind. It’s about, “What are you trying to achieve? How can we help achieve it?” They are really clear about what they can do and what they can’t do.

ADPRQ: How has this collaboration paid off?

Black: We have seen gains in employee satisfaction from the decisions we made using ADP as our partner. MyPay is something that many of our employees especially enjoy. 

After the implementation of the ADP GlobalView, we actually received phone calls from employees that said, “Hey, this pay statement is really neat. I like this.” And, “Hey, this is cool.” I think that’s the first time in my life I’ve heard that about payroll. A lot of our employees were pleased about the ability to log in and see a pay statement they could interact with.

The thing with the dashboard is it enables you to interact. You can see pie charts, but more importantly, you can compare paychecks across different periods. For people who don’t receive the same amount each paycheck, the dashboard allows them to zoom in on what’s generating that change. Their paycheck might be even wrong, because perhaps their manager didn’t send an approval for something on time. And now they can recognize that and resolve it. 

ADPRQ: What’s next?

Black: Now, I’m really looking forward to address our employees more holistically across the HR services spectrum. And I believe ADP can help us in a big way with that. As we grow within the new systems that we’re using and upgrading, I’m especially looking forward to seeing more efficiencies within our team.

It should be seamless for most employees. They shouldn’t have to worry about which vendor we’re using for payroll, right? But behind the scenes, if we, as a human resources organization, have too many people internally supporting the end-to-end payroll process, it’s taking time away from other employee services. Instead, we can focus on the rest of the employee experience as well.  

Contact ADP to discover how your organization can innovate and streamline your global payroll processes.