Prior to starting her new position as Baxalta’s senior program manager for the business transformation office, Pickell had worked for Motorola for five years and Kraft Foods for about seven months. At Motorola, she worked in the industry-leading public safety and enterprise mobility sectors, known for their radio equipment that connects fire and policemen throughout cities. At Kraft, she learned all about the food giant’s products and pipelines. At both companies, she was in procurement, which meant she helped negotiate contracts, analyze company expenditures and foster partner relationships.
At Baxalta, which earlier this summer split off from parent company Baxter International to focus on the biopharmaceutical side of the medical industry; Pickell deals with the complex logistics of guiding divisions globally through the conversion from Baxter to Baxalta.
“The dynamic of a liberal arts education helped me become adaptable, proactive and dependable, traits that have helped me in my career so far,” she says. “I was exposed to areas completely outside my comfort zone at Lakeland, and that helped shape me into who I am today.”
Pickell was initially drawn to Lakeland by the soccer program, and she immediately loved the business division during her visit. She treasured her Lakeland experience because of the genuine friendships she leaned on during a tragic time. After Pickell’s sophomore year, her older sister committed suicide. Devastated, Pickell couldn’t imagine going back to Lakeland for her junior year.
“I thought I needed to stay with my family, but my professors, my teammates and friends all encouraged me to come back to school,” she says. “I will forever be grateful for that support. My biggest mistake would have been not going back. Lakeland had become a second home, and I had such a solid foundation there. The Lakeland community helped me navigate that extremely difficult time.”
Pickell is now passionately involved in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and helps plan the annual “Chicagoland Out of the Darkness Walk” in an effort to help reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and suicide.
As she looks back on her Lakeland experience, she appreciates all it meant to her. Driven and smart, she acknowledges she likely would have thrived at the biggest of universities. But there was something special about Lakeland.
“I still keep in contact with a lot of my soccer teammates, who are some of my best friends,” she says. “I had a great relationship with (Charlotte and Walter Kohler Charitable Trust, Associate Professor of Business Administration and Director of the MBA Program) Scott Niederjohn, who was my advisor, and established many other personal relationships with staff and of course, other peers through classes and organizations.”