Employee Voices

Creating a Safe Place to Develop a Thriving Career

Through the Emerging Professionals employee resource group, Max Koenen is building his leadership skills while helping other McKesson employees advance their careers.



Read time: 4 minutes

Max Koenen was always fascinated by the medical field. After graduating college with a degree in chemistry, he followed his interests and began working in product quality within the healthcare industry.

Years later, when he became a parent, his job took on a deeper meaning.

After his identical twins were born prematurely, the babies required significant medical intervention. Max and his wife put their trust in the medicines and devices the newborns relied on during those early weeks of life. Today, he is the proud father of healthy four-year-old twins and a younger child who is nearly two. The care his family received gave him a renewed sense of purpose in his work.

“My job is all about patient safety,” Max says. “And my kids are at the front of my mind in everything I do.”

His commitment to doing the best for patients is what led him to McKesson in 2022. He joined as an associate director of quality, helping to advance the company’s focus on product quality and patient safety through a new Enterprise Quality Management function.

“I was excited about the potential impact I could have here and was impressed by our company’s culture,” he says.

As a remote employee, Max was looking to connect virtually with his fellow McKesson colleagues when he learned about the Emerging Professionals (EP) employee resource group (ERG).

EP is designed for employees who want to cultivate their leadership skills and build thriving careers at McKesson. Members can access professional development resources, planning tools, expert speakers and networking opportunities. More importantly, EP offers a welcoming community and safe space where colleagues can share their goals and aspirations, and encourage one another to reach new heights.

It’s a mission that resonates with Max, who is passionate about supporting others as they progress along their professional journeys. He credits his own success to the many people who helped him navigate along his path, especially earlier in his career when he wasn’t always certain of his next step.

“I’ve benefited from having strong mentors and leaders who recognized my potential and guided me in my professional growth,” he says. “I know not everyone is as fortunate. I thought EP would be a great way for me to give back and meet like-minded people.”

When it comes to being of service to others – whether it's helping to ensure patient safety, caring for his young family, or coaching colleagues – Max is willing to take on any challenge. That’s why he didn’t just join EP, he raised his hand for a leadership position with the ERG.

“It’s rewarding,” he says of being a board member and national innovation lead for EP. “It gives me the chance to share my expertise and skills with people outside of my team while accelerating my education about our company.”

Since EP is open to all, Max is meeting a diverse group of colleagues. He engages with recent graduates who are just starting out, employees with several years or even decades of experience, and individuals who’ve joined the company after making a career change.

“Anyone can be an emerging professional at any point in their career,” he explains. “You can always learn from others. You can always take advantage of the resources that are available here at McKesson. You can always pivot and try something new.”

He’s especially proud of his role in leading a unique EP program called Free Agency. Through this initiative, colleagues or “coaches” who are looking for extra support share their project needs with the EP network. Members can apply for these internal opportunities to expand their capabilities or gain exposure to a different function or area of the business.

“It’s a great way for employees to test the waters and try something new,” he says. “And, the coaches who submit the assignments are also provided with an opportunity to grow as leaders. It’s a win-win.”

Max is working to promote and expand this valuable program. As he speaks with colleagues about Free Agency and other avenues for professional development, he reminds them that they are in charge of their own career trajectory.

“It does take that first step of raising your hand or asking a question,” he says. “Getting involved in something, even in a small way, can make a big difference in your career.”

And Max is living this philosophy. Through EP, he’s growing his leadership capabilities and making strides in his new role. Every connection furthers his team’s work to provide enhanced oversight for quality management activities across the company, facilitate the sharing of knowledge and best practices, and drive a culture of quality.

Now, less than one year into his tenure, he feels a strong sense of belonging at McKesson. He attributes this to his involvement with EP and the way the ERG brings people together no matter what their role, location or level of experience may be.

“One of the most fulfilling aspects of my work life is mentoring and guiding others,” he says. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to make a bigger impact here.”