CSL CEO & Managing Director Paul Perreault recently gave students taking part in the company’s U.S. Internship Program some insight into his own journey and advice for launching a rewarding career of their own.
“Your career path – and life – is a journey. Different paths will open before you, and you’ll have to decide which one to take. Be brave,” Perreault told the group during the virtual gathering.
This year, the company is sponsoring 41 interns and co-ops enrolled in a four-year university. The 12-to-26-week program builds on classroom theory by providing students with practical, hands-on experience. Interns receive a wide range of development opportunities, including an Insights® Discovery assessment, skill-building workshops and business-specific training. The roles span multiple CSL entities and business functions across the U.S.
“Having Paul connect with the interns is valuable because it encourages meaningful, two-way dialogue with senior leadership,” said Aneesa Bey, Early Career Development Programs Manager, who organized the event with Perreault.
Here are four pieces of advice Perreault shared with the group:
- Be Open. Perreault started his professional career in pharmaceutical sales and loved it. He was doing so well that one day his manager encouraged him to apply for a training program to help new hires learn sales. Though Perreault initially pushed back, he ended up applying for and getting the position. After a couple of years of still covering his sales territory and traveling the country to train others, the same manager came to Perreault to encourage him to apply for a district manager position. “A lot of people saw things in me that I didn't see in myself,” Perreault said. “They pushed me to do things, where I said, why would I do that?”
- Be humble. During Perreault’s first year as a district manager, he “failed miserably.” He had no experience managing people. He thought people worked the same way he did, and did what they said they were going to do. So, he started asking for help, including calling his former manager for advice. Within two years, he had turned the district around, going from last to first. It wasn’t the last time he experienced a setback. In those situations, Perreault advised the students to “constantly look in the mirror” to analyze the situation and consider what you could and should do differently.
- Be broad. Perreault eventually ran business units for Wyeth and for a CSL predecessor company, where he was asked to move into operations and head up plasma collections. The career move made him uncomfortable because he had no experience in operations. However, it also helped him learn the business from end-to-end. Perreault says the broad exposure has helped him in his role as CEO because the company needs people who “understand how the enterprise works.”
- Be curious. Perreault acknowledged that, as interns, the students would not have the opportunity to work in different areas of the company in order to understand the business. However, he did encourage them to talk with people in their area, to ask questions and get an understanding of how we operate. He also told them to work with their manager to get exposure to different areas of the business – to meet and have discussions with those in other areas. Finally, he advised them to network with each other and share their experiences, as a matter of “reaching out and making those connections.”
For more information on working at CSL, check out our careers page.