Finding the long-missed meaning

Cancer survivor Missy Pappion is happy at Boehringer Ingelheim after climbing the corporate ladder.

Missy Pappion claims to be "a social butterfly".  You believe her immediately. The US citizen residing in Atlanta laughs broadly into the camera when she is not drinking from her coffee mug. Full of enthusiasm and warmth, she talks about walks with her dog, activities with her family and about her colleagues at Boehringer Ingelheim, who are more than colleagues: "I consider them family members."

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But after the friendly small talk at the beginning of the conversation, it is time to talk about why Missy Pappion – who has worked for several well-known US companies in digital marketing – joined Boehringer Ingelheim almost two years ago, and thus also about dark moments that Missy had to endure before this decision.

It's February 2020 when Missy walks into the doctor’s office for a biopsy. She had an uneasy feeling in her gut. "I have a pretty good body awareness," Missy says. "Something was wrong with me, and subconsciously I felt: I have cancer." Missy walked into her appointment ready to face whatever outcome was ahead. 

Missy has breast cancer

Already the next day, Missy is standing in the bathroom and drying her curly black hair, the doctor calls back. The suspicion has been confirmed: Missy has breast cancer. The mother of seven-year-old twins collapses in the bathroom and cries uninhibitedly. Missy runs down to the kitchen; her mother from New Orleans, a nurse by profession, is visiting. Together, the two decide to go to the doctor.

Missy is lucky in misfortune: The cancer is detected early, stage 1, and has not yet spread. Her doctor is optimistic: "This cancer won't kill you." For Missy, it quickly becomes clear that she wants to end the topic as soon as possible. She chooses the drastic way and has a double mastectomy. "I didn't want chemotherapy or radiation. I didn't want to make a never-ending story out of it, and I didn’t want to live in fear all the time." After all, she wanted and had to be there for her children. Missy talks to them – but avoids the word cancer. 'I told them, 'Mommy has some bad body parts and the doctor will remove them from me.'" Even though Missy has 3 more years of cancer treatment left, her outlook on life is bright.


In the spring, the procedure is completed, Missy recovers at home – and thinks about her future. As a teenager, she wanted to become a doctor, later dreamed of going to the FBI as a forensic pathologist – before she decided to study digital marketing. Missy works for a multicultural marketing agency in Detroit, for an entertainment ticket provider and for a shapewear company, among other things. On average, she changes jobs every two years – in search of fulfillment that she does not find. On the contrary, she experiences bosses don’t understand what makes a great leader, lack EQ and companies that live neither the D nor the I from "Diversity & Inclusion".

Added value for humans and animals

Missy is open for a change when Boehringer Ingelheim had a job offer. "Since my mother is diabetic and I’m a pet owner, I knew some of our products, of course, but honestly knew little about the company." The more she informed herself about the family-owned company, the greater her interest became. She joins the Animal Health marketing team – and finds the long-missed meaning – the why – in the job. 

"I love working for Boehringer Ingelheim," says Missy, and her eyes light up like at the beginning of the conversation. It is simply good to create real added value for humans and animals. We are there for our patients."

For the first time, she meets colleagues who, like Missy, live the values of the family-owned company and see employees as more than just colleagues. "We are a family. We support each other when someone has a bad day." This also applies to the company itself: "This is the first time that an employer is really interested in its employees."

She would have the opportunity to grow further within Boehringer Ingelheim and to think outside the box. She is currently working in a rotation model with the DICE team and, in addition to her actual work. "With us, all people are equal. That corresponds to my view of the world." 

As a result, Missy doesn't think for a second about changing employers. "I don't want to constantly jump back and forth. I have the feeling that I have finally arrived." And so she is especially looking forward to Thursdays. Because as much as she appreciates and welcomes the flexibility of working from home, she works remotely four days a week, the greater the joy of seeing colleagues on a Thursday, "our Office Day". Missy remains a "social butterfly".

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