We are the makers of possible: Single Mom Stays Focused and Perseveres
If you talk to Carissa Vega, she will tell you that she went about her career in a backward fashion because of many twists and turns that happened throughout her life.
And yet she persevered and now serves as a strategic business partner for the Medication Management Solutions (MMS) Global Services Platform, leading long-term transformation initiatives and strategic planning as a Senior Project Manager. She previously served as the Senior Manager of Business Process Operations, where she led a global team focused on continuous improvement while promoting a consistent, quality-driven approach, supporting the Technical Support Center. She joined BD in 2017.
Reflecting on The Journey
“I had my first child at 17 years old and was a single mom,” explained Carissa. “Then I got married at 19 and had my second son at 21. I worked in a bank and was taking college classes because I knew I wanted more for my career, my life, and my family too. As a native of New Mexico, my parents taught me how much hard work and being resilient pays off and it has, but it’s not been an easy career journey by any means.”
Growth mindset, continuous learning, and faith all play a part
Carissa, who also was diagnosed with ADHD a year ago, may not have had the smoothest path, but it’s one that taught her a lot about the value of continuous learning, holding herself accountable, and keeping faith that the actions and areas of focus would allow her to reap significant career benefits in the long run.
“In 2001, our family moved from New Mexico to New Jersey because my husband at the time was active in the US Air Force and took on a new assignment there. I was able to stay home during this time to take care of my boys but I did take a job to help supplement our family income at a local pizzeria. The owner was from Naples, Italy and many of the employees were from Puebla, Mexico. All of the employees were immigrants. They worked from sunup to sundown to provide for their families. That's when it somehow clicked for me and I was able to mature and hold myself accountable to build and maintain a solid work ethic,” said Carissa.
Carissa and her family found themselves moving to San Antonio, Texas in 2005 when her then-husband was re-assigned to another base. At this point, she would go through a divorce and became a single mom again at 32, while working for a health insurance company and completing college courses.
“When I first moved to Texas, I gained my first experience in a call center, working as a customer service representative for a third-party administrator in the health insurance industry and this is where I fell in love with helping people and improving the overall customer experience with what can often be a very complex subject to navigate – health insurance,” explained Carissa.
After that, Carissa took on stretch assignments and eventually moved into a reporting role that gave her foundational experience in data interpretation and how to leverage it into action. She was promoted to a supervisor role, responsible for a customer service team, and then, eventually, into a manager position, leading a global team that provided services to organizations in the gaming industry.
Recognizing that education was key to enhancing her career options, Carissa also attended the University of Phoenix and received her bachelor’s degree in business in 2016. Fast forward to May of 2022, she received her executive MBA and was selected by her cohort peers as the award recipient to the University of Texas-San Antonio’s (UTSA) Wayne Drymala Memorial Endowed Scholarship, for an outstanding colleague who demonstrated extraordinary class leadership throughout the program.
Leaning in and then co-leading the HOLA ARG
With more than 18 years of healthcare operations experience and more than 16 years of progressive management expertise, Carissa has found her purpose in helping others and giving voice to the underrepresented – this is why she also volunteers as a national co-leader for BD’s Hispanic Organization for Leadership and Advancement (HOLA) Associate Resource Group (ARG).
BD ARGs help the organization advance its cultural priorities of becoming agile and results-driven, customer-centric and innovative, and inclusive and diverse. ARGs also drive belonging and create professional development opportunities for associates through peer mentoring, coaching, leadership, and networking opportunities. Carissa attributes her participation to Marcela Alzate-Gomez, a business analytics analyst who had deep ties to HOLA and encouraged Carissa to participate further in the ARG.
“I first led the San Antonio HOLA ARG chapter and now co-lead the National Chapter with Mernis Freeman who is in the Marketing organization,” said Carissa. “The benefits of participating in an ARG at BD are endless. I’ve learned and gained so much from being involved! From helping elevate my public speaking to networking and advocacy opportunities and from helping represent this cohort of associates across BD. Leading the HOLA ARG has been humbling and empowering and is such a beautiful display of servant leadership here.”
At BD, we are People who Give Possibilities Purpose
Carissa continues by saying that it’s the people at BD who truly make the organization what it is and why she chooses to stay.
“This company acknowledges each person – whether it’s a healthcare provider, customer, associate or leader, the leadership demonstrates that they are invested in me, which is important to me in an employer. I need to feel like I am contributing to something larger than me and that I have the support of an entire team to do so, which is exactly what I have at BD,” said Carissa.
Today Carissa is happily married to her second husband and her sons are now grown, successful adults – one in the US Air Force and the other a physics major working for a global tech company in the R&D space. Looking back, while the road to her current career may have been paved with some bumpy spots, she would not change a thing. “I’m so grateful for everything I’ve learned and how faith kept me along each step of the way,” concluded Carissa.