When she first started working at Merck & Co., Inc., a major pharmaceutical company based in New Jersey, Moushmi Culver ’00 noticed there were not many people like her in the upper echelons of the business: a woman and a minority to boot.
But over the years, as she climbed position after position at Merck, Culver learned many lessons on how to navigate the corporate world and made sure to impart them as a mentor to women, ethnic minorities and others who didn’t have prior exposure to this environment. Within the company, Culver is now someone that many people look up to in her position as vice president overseeing Merck’s manufacturing strategy and business development.
In recognition, Culver earned the honor of being included in the list of 2021 EMpower Ethnic Minority Executives. The list, sponsored by Yahoo Finance, showcases and celebrates 100 people of color for being exemplary executives and for "removing barriers on the pathway to success for ethnic minority employees," according to a Yahoo article that appeared in May. Involve, a diversity and inclusion membership organization, created the list with nominations from the executives’ peers and colleagues.
"The corporate world is not the easiest path to navigate. When you work in this environment, you need to have a support system. That's why I mentor people. Throughout my career, I would reach out to people for support and get advice whenever I felt I had hit bumps on the road. And I do the same thing now for others," said Culver, who’s been at Merck throughout her 21-year career." It’s very gratifying to be recognized for this work that I am passionate about.”
This year, Culver also joined the Board of Advisors at Stevens Institute of Technology’s Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering and Science. Stevens previously gave her the Young Alumni Achievement Award in 2015.
How Stevens helped culver attain success
Culver said her initial hire at Merck and subsequent successes are due to the technical foundation and hands-on experience she received at Stevens, where she majored in chemical engineering.
"I have heard people say that Stevens is the hidden gem of Hoboken, New Jersey. Not many people knew about the school when I attended but through the years people have learned about the impressive caliber of the students, faculty and alumni," Culver said. "At Stevens, when I was a student, we were already using advanced technologies, so that helped give us a competitive advantage in the working world. We not only learned the technical aspects of our degrees but also the practical parts. We were able to hit the ground running when we graduated."
"And many times, we also worked on group projects with a diverse population of students. The technical experience and working with diverse teams are two things at Stevens that helped me become an effective leader," Culver added.
It was Stevens’ Cooperative Education Program, which offers students work opportunities, that gave her the chance to gain work experience in multiple companies that enabled her to get her full time job at Merck post graduation, where she joined the company’s Leadership Development Program in manufacturing. In this program, she was able to work in different parts of the production process, from working on the shop floor to the business side. She now is the executive sponsor of this program.
The Stevens–Merck ties go even deeper: Culver connects with many Stevens alumni who have ended up at the company like herself.
"It’s amazing we all find each other. It’s wonderful so many people benefited from an education there," said Culver, who also met her husband at Stevens. "The other day, another Stevens graduate at Merck reached out to me and we talked about how well prepared Stevens graduates are to be successful in industry and beyond."
Impact at Merck
In her current position, Culver oversees over 100 staff in manufacturing strategy and business development
"The easiest way to describe it is, we work on how we will plan and prepare for the future of manufacturing. We execute deals with companies where we're going to grow our pipeline of products. We look for early talent and future talent. We work on future strategy," Culver said.
Among her many past job titles, Culver was also global lead for research & development, sourcing & procurement, head of the corporate strategy office and was chief of staff to the president of the Merck Manufacturing Division.
"It’s a wonderful company to work for," said Culver. "And we believe in our mission. Our mission is to deliver innovative medicines that will save and improve lives."
Culver’s support system
Besides her Stevens education and the support she has received during her time at Merck, Culver credits a big part of her success to her parents. Her father and mother are originally from India and grew up in East Africa. They moved to London where Culver and her younger brother were born. At seven years of age, Culver and her family moved to the United States and settled in New Jersey. Her father worked in business while her mother was employed as a pharmacist.
"My parents did everything for their kids. They worked hard and worked multiple jobs to get us where we are right now," said Culver.
When Culver started rapidly climbing up the ranks of Merck, it prevented her from doing some regular parenting duties for her two sons, such as making dinner during the week or chaperoning the kids to activities. But both her parents changed careers in order to help Culver and her husband raise the kids.
"My mother was telling me that I could not say no to the opportunities I was getting at Merck. She told me these were once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and I needed to pursue them," said Culver. "I have been able to do some wonderful things in my career because of their help. I have been so fortunate to have their support."
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