In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, heroes abound. From medical professionals to essential workers, the heroes of the crisis are regular people who simply show up for work and do what they were called to do.
For current Trevecca student Chris Wroblewski, the unsung heroes of the pandemic are the team he leads at Becton-Dickinson (BD). An American medical technology company that manufactures and sells medical devices, equipment and more, BD is one of the leading manufacturers of the swabs needed for COVID-19 testing.
Wroblewski, who is pursuing his bachelor’s degree in management and leadership at Trevecca, is the associate director of operations for BD’s Eastern Regional Distribution Center, leading a team of 225.
“I have great admiration for those on the front lines,” Wroblewski said, referring to the medical professionals he knows personally, including one of his sons who is a second-year medical student. “But behind the scenes, [my team at BD are] essential employees. As much as my team would like to stay home and work virtually, they need to be here. … If we had to shut down, those test kits would not be getting to the [testing centers or hospitals].”
While the challenges of the coronavirus medical supply chain have become one of the major stories of the pandemic, Wroblewski says he’s seen nothing but teamwork as corporate and industry leaders come together to find creative solutions to the problems.
“As the pandemic continues, there’s a big strain on the global health care supply chain,” he said. “BD North America’s supply chain mobilized a cross-functional quick response team, and we were tasked with allocating and fast-tracking stock keeping units (SKU) needed to fight COVID—swabs, IV solutions, mainly the swab for the testing, which was in huge demand.”
“At that time, much of those items were being manufactured in Italy,” he continued. “In our supply chain, we would get those products with a lead time of up to three months. So, we mobilized a team, and our CEO met with the White House, as a lot of supply chain folks did. We asked [them to help], and they did.”
Some of that help came from the U.S. Air Force, which volunteered the use of a C-17 plane that helped BD move product straight from the manufacturer in Italy to the U.S. in one day, speeding up the process of producing the needed medical testing supplies.
“Given the sheer breadth of products—it’s not just the swabs, but other products—we’re finding different ways to expedite the shipments,” Wroblewski said.
Even while his work responsibilities have grown, Wroblewski says he’s still “carved out” some time for his classes. Wroblewski, who began his college career as a traditional undergraduate in 1982, is completing his degree as a promise to his sons.
“I have four boys and as they were all entering into their college years. Unfortunately, they saw my W-2 as I was doing my taxes and said, ‘Oh, Dad, we don’t need to go to college. You didn’t, and you do OK,’” he recalled. “But that’s not how it works. By the grace of God, I was able to move up and work hard. So I made a covenant with them that I would finish school—and if I finished, then they would finish, so that’s the deal.”
It’s a commitment Wroblewski is determined to keep.
Since then, he’s worked on his degree in fits and starts, first as a traditional undergrad, then through an adult studies program at university in Massachusetts when he lived in the area. When Wroblewski relocated for work with his former company, Owens & Minor, he knew he needed the flexibility of an online degree program to keep his promise to his sons.
“I was looking for something that was Christian-based,” he said. “Subsequently, I was so busy with Owens, growing through the ranks and [becoming] the director for five distribution centers. But for work here with BD, I need my degree if I want to move up.”
Even in the midst of one of the busiest times of his career, Wroblewski says he’s found Trevecca’s degree program to be flexible and easily adaptable to his busy schedule.
“Even as busy and crazy as it is for me right now, I still have an opportunity with online,” Wroblewski said. “The program is structured in a [good way] so that I can still carve out the time to complete my [classwork].”