Many laid-off employees trash their former employer. But my decade at Thermo Fisher stands as one of the richest experiences of my life, despite significant challenges along the way. So I want to remind current Thermo Fisher employees and leadership what they can take pride in:
Exceptional Handling of my On-the-Job Gender Change
I joined the company at the Austin site as “Daniel Edmund Williams” and left from the Carlsbad site as “Emily Marie Williams”. No easy feat.
The (public) transition took place one year into my tenure at the Carlsbad site. My colleagues there embraced my chosen identity completely. Sure there were a few initial hiccups in name and pronoun use, but those faded quickly. No one fussed about the bathrooms or showers.
Yes, a few folks were uncomfortable at first. I took them to lunch. I turned the other cheek. They came around.
Thermo Fisher employees and leadership can therefore take pride in their openness.
Thermo Fisher’s HR department knows what they did for me, along with the challenges I faced. These stories are of course not for public consumption.
I thank them for all their tremendous support. I thank them for all the collaborative problem-solving and for delivering substantial grace.
Thermo Fisher employees and leadership can therefore take pride in their Human Resources Department.
Learned to “Manage Up”
Working at a large corporation for a decade usually means reporting to multiple bosses. Most managed exceptionally well, a few struggled. One was downright abusive. Immersed in this environment, I became skilled at collaborative problem-solving and team-centered idea promotion, skills I’m extremely thankful for.
I also learned how to stand up to the abusive boss—proudly setting an example for my less experienced colleagues.
Company employees and leadership can therefore (mostly) take pride in their management.
Learned to Manage (Down)
An intern reported to me one summer, allowing me to develop my talents at management. While no one specifically coached me on management skills during this period, the many good (and a few bad) management examples set around me directed my compass.
Acquired Technical Skills and Sharpened my Business Acumen
Immediately following my layoff last July I founded Whole-Systems Enterprises, Inc. Employing all the data science skills I learned at Thermo Fisher, we are developing and optimizing day-trading algorithms. We are also selling bioinformatics and data science consulting services. My experience at Thermo Fisher made this possible.
Thermo Fisher employees and leadership can therefore take pride in their technical development.
Why Am I Saying All This?
This blog, and the book I’m writing based on it, covers transgender issues. Employment is a major transgender issue, not just during the public act of transition but encompassing the whole life experience of work. I wanted to celebrate an organization that is getting it right.
The whole proves greater than the sum of its parts.