Ingrid Boyes is a global CHRO, Biotech Executive and Board Member. She is currently the Chief People Officer for Gyroscope Therapeutics a global company focused on developing innovative medicines to fight the devastating impact of blindness around the world. Prior, Ingrid was CHRO for Myokardia which was acquired by Bristol Myers Squibb in 2020. Ingrid has led HR functions across borders and cultures with experience in the US, Europe and Asia. As a Latina executive, she is passionate about creating environments with equal representation and where people can be themselves and can grow both personally and professionally. She lives in San Francisco Bay area.
Ingrid, how did you get started in your career?
About 30 years ago I was working in worker’s compensation at an insurance company and the VP of HR asked me if I would want to join the HR team as an HR generalist. The role sounded exciting and broad; it involved policy development and different operational and recruitment aspects. To me this sounded like a great starting point, especially since I had no HR experience! I think they initially approached me about the role because they had really liked my willingness and openness to take on new things and help others. After taking the role, I remember interviewing a candidate for my boss and I think I was more nervous than the candidate because I had never interviewed anyone before! The experience taught me that my ability to have conversations with people and build rapport with people is key and is something that has guided me throughout my career.
To what do you credit your success from your background or work or life experiences?
I think some of my traits and characteristics. I’ve always been very flexible and adaptative. There are people who don’t like change and will really stay away from it, but I really embrace it and I love exploring new possibilities. I always keep my eyes on how to make things better and that has taught me how to pivot in my personal life and career. I think this comes from me being a systemic thinker; I am able to step back and see the bigger picture which helps me make informed decisions and helps with change management.
It wasn’t until later in my career that I realized I was a risk taker. I think being a risk taker is a trait of mine that I inherited. I was born in Guatemala and when I was four years old my father uprooted our family to the U.S. My mom was a homemaker and for her to uproot her life and go to a country where there were no family members was a huge risk for her. Being a risk taker can be scary, but if you can visualize the end goal and have people around you who let you take the roads you want to take; it can lead to great outcomes. I am intrigued by possibilities and have found that taking risks has helped me get larger roles each and every time and has really helped me further my career path.
What’s a tough career lesson you had to learn and how did it serve you?
Early in my career I accepted a role that I quickly learned wasn’t right for me. There were many red flags that I kept questioning, but I also desired this new responsibility and didn’t heed those flags. The experience taught me the importance of making the right career decisions.
Every career decision after that was very deliberate and thought out. We spend so much time at work that we want to make sure it is something we can also have fun with. When you go in for an interview, remember that you are also interviewing them so that you can make sure it really is the right fit for you. Know what you are passionate about and make sure that the people you are going to work with have similar passions, values, and commitments that you do. A promotion and a new title, while exciting, is not what it is all about.
What are you so glad you did or took advantage of that served you well?
I feel fortunate for having aligned myself with mentors who have helped push me. Working with mentors, I have become clearer about what drives my passions, what my career aspirations are and what experiences I need to achieve them. Many of my early career mentors were men, but over the years I have been inspired by the increase in female executives. It is on my career bucket list to help mentor and bring women of color along even more. I want to pay it forward and help remove barriers and create a space where I can shape something that brings value to others as mentorship made such a difference to me.
How do you balance work, life and such a busy schedule- any tips?
I think of it as work-life integration. Early in my career it was tough to balance life and work. I came to the realization there will be a sacrifice no matter what. You have to critically prioritize what you want and pick and choose the things you can and cannot make happen at that time.
At one point I had an opportunity to go abroad for a role but my family wasn’t mobile so I couldn’t do that. However, I was able to have a global role instead; I traveled a lot and I didn’t have to uproot my family. The sacrifice in this situation was the frequent travel but that is where I learned how to pivot and figure out what was going to work best for my family and me.
What have been some career highlights and why?
I have had many great experiences. At Genentech, I led talent acquisition where we accomplished three years of double-digit growth. My team and I relied on one another and it is was great being able to help build the company while building my own internal function.
The second was my last role with Myokardia. It was a start-up, private research organization, that shared the same values and passions that I had. I joined them as the 50th employee. I was able to be part of a team who built the company with amazing talent and a sustainable culture that helped it grow and thrive. I saw it from an early stage to the acquisition by Bristol Myers Squibb which was the largest acquisition of a pre- commercial biotech company in history. Culture is so critical to a company’s success and I look back and think about the culture we built and I say to myself, “wow we did something amazing”.
What one or two bits of advice would you give someone regarding work or career?
Always remember to follow your passions. Don’t let current societal norms stop you from pushing forward and pursuing your desired career. And, remember to be humble; help pay it forward to those who come after you.