Inside Sanofi

How My Military Mindset Has Helped Me During COVID-19

Clint Wallace, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, North America, shares the five ways his military experience is helping him lead through COVID-19 to ensure our employees are supported and our patients have access to vaccines, therapies and medicines they need.

Clint and KyleAfter 21 years of service, I retired as a Commissioned Officer in the US Air Force in 2008. There are many things I have held close from my military career, working with companies like Pratt Whitney, GE, BASF, and now Sanofi, as head of HR for North America. The COVID-19 pandemic has made me realize the value of a military background. Here are five things I carried over from that experience that have been helping me as we lead through unprecedented challenges.

First – connect to your mission. Military leadership requires influencing others to accomplish a mission by providing purpose, direction, and motivation. Our mission at Sanofi is clear – deliver medicines, vaccines and therapies to the patients who are counting on us. In every function and at every site, employees are going above and beyond the call of duty for their teammates and to ensure patients get the medicines they need. As leaders, our role is to pave the way to help people adapt to new ways of working and keep the teams laser-focused on the mission. Other priorities need to be set aside by leaders so teams have no question about what’s important.

Second – live by your values. During my service, US Air Force values quickly became my values – integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do. Be sure you uphold your own and your company’s values as true north. Use your values to decide the right thing to do and to make quick decisions. During this time at Sanofi US, we have developed and communicated policies like COVID-19 Emergency Leave for essential employees in less than three days. During any other time, the creation of a policy like this could take months. Will there be mistakes sometimes? Yes, but going fast to ensure safety and the continuation of our mission outweighs 100% accuracy right now – move fast and course correct when needed.

Third - if you are going to ask the troops to do something, be willing to do it yourself. We have all had to make sacrifices, some more than others. Leaders sometimes need to get in the trenches with their teams. We are all working long hours and trying, not always perfectly, to be present for both work and family. Ask yourself and your teams, “How can we work together more effectively to deliver value and be there for those who need us?”

Fourth – have the discipline to track what you are doing to see opportunities for improvement. By week two, I worked with my team to put together what we call in the military a SITREP – situational report. At the end of each week, we capture what has been accomplished in our function with regard to COVID-19 with accompanying metrics and a look ahead at what’s coming the following week. A simple act, but it’s given us great insight into what we’ve have achieved, what’s missing and what’s needed.   

Fifth and most important – maintain a calm mind. Don’t let the noise outside influence your thoughts – take a moment, take a walk, and clear your head. Shift your mindset from, “things just happen to me,” to operating “above the line” by taking responsibility and choosing your response. We are bigger than whatever we face and it’s only a matter of time before we will overcome our obstacles. Navigate through the moment effectively and with clarity and you will achieve, you will win.

Veteran hiring is an important initiative at Sanofi. We understand the wealth of qualities many veterans have to offer, including the unique perspective they bring to everyday situations. Visit to apply.