Employee Voices

Queen of the Cold Chain

At McKesson’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution center in Olive Branch, Miss., this operations supervisor has found her calling—and taken her career to new heights.

The cold doesn’t bother Jasmine Bryant – it’s her element. An operations supervisor at McKesson’s Olive Branch, Miss. vaccine distribution center, she spends most of her time inside a freezer.

And that’s alright with her, because the work – picking, packing and shipping COVID-19 vaccines to Americans who urgently need them – couldn’t be more critical to the health and safety of the nation.

“It’s about thinking past the cold and being able to focus on the process itself,” explains Jasmine about her mind-over-matter approach.

It’s a mindset that she has fine-tuned over time. Before Olive Branch, Jasmine served for three years as day shift lead for McKesson’s Anchorage, Alaska distribution center (DC). Prior to that, she worked in the North Slope oil fields of Deadhorse, Alaska, where the temperature in winter often dips to -40°F – or -80°F with the windchill.

The vaccine freezers are downright balmy compared to that. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine vials, for example, are stored between -13°F to 5°F.

A hero on the (frigid) front lines, Jasmine has a devotion to her work that’s inspiring to witness. It was with great pride that she carried the first box of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses out of the building back in December.

Yet more than a story of dedication, Jasmine’s journey is also a shining example of what happens when a company invests in the development of its people, preparing them for opportunities to grow and make a difference in the workplace and beyond.

Jasmine excelled in her role at the Anchorage DC, but after several years there, she was looking to move south. She applied for operations supervisor roles at other McKesson sites, but none of them panned out – until she put her name in the hat for the Olive Branch vaccine DC position. It was her ability to withstand cold temperatures that set her apart and made her a shoe-in for the job.

On Oct. 4, 2020, Jasmine arrived in Memphis, Tenn. – about 30 minutes northwest of Olive Branch – and assumed the role of day shift lead at the newly built vaccine DC.

“To uproot and move felt like an adventure,” Jasmine recalls. Once on site, she found it daunting to arrive at an empty warehouse. It was also humbling and inspirational to experience the various McKesson teams working together to make vaccine distribution become a reality in a little over 60 days.

“This team does what it takes, and it’s obvious that we take it seriously,” she says.

Perhaps her biggest challenge has been meeting the needs of a diverse workforce. In Anchorage, she had been accountable for approximately three team members, but in Olive Branch, she oversees a team of 90.

“I love the diversity we have here – the opportunities to work with different people across different functions, and the variety of insights and ideas.”

Career-wise, Jasmine’s recent experiences are opening her eyes to new strengths, interests and growth areas.

“Right now, I find I’m really interested in the inventory side of things,” she notes. “I like being a problem-solver and finding the moving pieces that could affect vital processes.”

A nurturing workplace environment is the perfect incubator for professional growth – even in the deep cold.

It helps to remember the “why” of the job and the person at the end of the chain. At McKesson, we say, “it’s not a package, it’s a patient.” But to Jasmine, it’s even bigger than that.

“I fully believe that no matter how big or small the package is, it represents a family – and it could be my own family,” says Jasmine about her pick-pack-ship philosophy. “I love McKesson and I actually know I am making a difference.”

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