Employee Voices

Igniting a Culture of Diverse Growth and Leadership

Glen Townsend’s passion for mentoring sparks opportunities for current and future colleagues.

Read time: 4.5 minutes

Glen Townsend is competitive. Whether it’s tackling the frontline logistical challenges of distributing COVID-19 vaccines, mentoring others along their professional paths, or redirecting his own journey when his first career choice literally went up in smoke, Glen doesn’t back down.

He initially studied electronic engineering in college, not only to follow his childhood passion for electronics, but also to prove that a young Black man from a predominantly white Tennessee community could succeed. And he did succeed – just not as planned.

“I had an assignment to design an electronic board,” he recalls. “When I plugged it in for the first time in my professor’s office, smoke rolled from the power supply. The professor gave me a C for effort, and I gave myself a W for withdrawal from the class.”

He redirected his dream and earned his bachelor’s degree in information technology – a career path that ultimately landed him where he is today.

In 2007, Glen joined McKesson as a technical support team supervisor through an acquisition of the distribution company where he’d been working.

Since then, he says he’s found his calling.

Today, he works out of La Vergne, Tenn., as a software engineer who operates as a “scrum master,” leading technical infrastructure projects for McKesson’s 3PL (Third-Party Logistics) and specialty health distribution centers (DCs). He also played a critical role in helping to plan and open two distribution centers dedicated to the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccines. His support included ordering and deploying equipment and coordinating the setup of the pick, pack and ship stations.

“Whether it’s the COVID-19 vaccine or oncology therapies, we can’t have any glitches in getting those critical medications to the people who depend on them,” he says. “My mother passed from breast cancer, so our mission of treating every package as a patient really hits home.”

Getting Plugged into BE

This year, Glen’s fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., named him Alpha Man of the Year for mentoring high school students, his service commitment in the Nashville community, and his work with his chapter’s technology committee. It’s a true testament to his passion for giving back to those around him.

That passion is also why Glen has become someone McKesson's Black Excellence - Be Empowered (BE) employee resource group. depends on to deliver critical initiatives.

BE aims to make McKesson the best workplace for Black and African American employees. Beyond internal networking, training and development, the group mentors and recruits diverse external talent. It’s a need Glen understands from both sides.

“In my high school class, I was one of only two Black students,” Glen notes. “College was similar. Feeling comfortable at McKesson took a while because I’d never been surrounded by people who looked like me.”

After speaking with a Georgia colleague about BE and hearing visiting representatives from the Woodlands, Texas chapter, Glen realized the ERG’s potential to help members find commonality, honor their heritage, grow their skills, and mentor others. He helped launch the La Vergne BE chapter and led communications before becoming the chapter’s chair, where he’s introduced programs for health and wellness, as well as financial empowerment.

Following a meeting with the national BE chapter at McKesson’s headquarters on a trip to Los Colinas, Texas in 2019, Glen has also joined the national board. As treasurer, he supports company-wide programs spanning professional development and cultural awareness celebrations such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Black History Month, Juneteenth and Kwanzaa.

“I participated in our ‘Day of Understanding’ where our CEO and other executives talked candidly about diversity with some African-American employees,” Glen says. “I gained insight into our top leaders’ authentic selves and their thoughts on diversity. Having leaders who fully embrace a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion is part of what makes McKesson a great work environment.”

Helping Others Navigate Their Careers

Glen also appreciates the opportunities McKesson offers all employees, especially active ERG members. He credits BE not only for much of his leadership development, but for the opportunity it’s provided him to do the same for others.

“I love helping employees target and shape their career paths,” Glen says. “I try to keep them informed about benefits and opportunities. It’s been an inspiration and a joy to see how BE’s ability to help employees expand their skills and their exposure to McKesson’s executives and culture has played a role in promotions and advancements.”

BE also reaches out to local communities that might not be aware of McKesson and the employment opportunities it offers. Locally, that plays out through programs such as an annual school supply drive for underserved middle school girls through the nonprofit F.I.N.D. DESIGN organization. Nationally, BE is spearheading an internship program for students from historically Black colleges.

“We do these things in hopes that these students will have access to better educational opportunities,” Glen says, “and see McKesson as a diverse and great place to work.”

For Glen, it’s a message that reflects his own positive experiences at McKesson.

“I love how the different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives in my coworkers help us better overcome any challenges we face,” he says. “I think that’s what diversity is all about. It’s why I encourage all McKesson employees to get plugged in, not only to BE, but to all ERGs. Yes, we want to expose everyone to brown-skinned cultures, but we also want to ensure that our colleagues benefit from the rich career development opportunities available to everyone at McKesson.”