Meet Nicole Jones of Merck
Nicole joined Merck as Head of Global Talent & Leadership in 2021. She is responsible for the strategic design and execution of an enterprise-wide talent management and leadership development strategy, which includes driving the evolution and modernization of performance management, succession planning, talent assessments, and leadership development. She is grateful to have had a career full of rich experiences amongst an array of industries, including telecommunications, nonprofit, aerospace and defense, financial services, and pharmaceuticals.
Nicole is grateful to have experienced her fair share of successes and lessons learned, which have shaped her perspectives and daily way of being. She strives to stay grounded in grace, grit, and intentionality. These attributes have helped her to lead teams to achieve what others thought as impossible, to be humble yet confident, and resilient in the face of challenges.
Towards the start of her career she had a small, early-career team that was responsible for designing, developing, and launching a company-first talent strategy. This included an enterprise-wide corporate university as the central pillar, to engage and enable all employees to deliver on business strategy. At first glance, it seemed insurmountable for the small team to be successful, but after recruiting a cross-functional team of colleagues to join, and leveraging external resources, the team delivered an award-winning corporate university in record time. Throughout, Nicole recalls unexpectedly losing funding for a new LMS that was central to the design, and overlooking a key stakeholder group whose voices were important to the design and to supporting the change. Yet the team stayed focused on the end goal, worked together tirelessly, and practiced agility to overcome barriers.
Nicole has learned the great importance of self-care over the course of her career. It’s a focus that she wishes she had adopted earlier, but is now adamant about extending grace to herself, and being intentional with where and how she spends her time and energy. As a leader who is driven to lead teams to transform, create what hasn’t been done, or to take what is good and to make it better, Nicole has learned that they journey is seldom easy and is fraught with obstacles and naysayers. Yet she shields herself by giving herself grace and making intentional choices about where to give her time and energy. Everything and everyone will take all of the time and energy that you are willing to give; there are times when you must hold some of it for yourself. This is more than okay, and is a way of extending grace and replenishing yourself.
This past month, she had the opportunity to attend She-Suite Summit22, and believes that the timing was very ideal given the theme “Reset the Standard” – which she sees as a mindset that is core to how she strives to live both personally and professionally.
Her final words?
“Stay focused on what matters, extend grace to yourself (start there!) and others, and take bold moves!”