Rutgers Leadership Coach Finds His Hip-Hop Beat
As a leadership executive coach in the pharmaceutical industry, Bejoy Philip draws insights from a novel source – his alter ego, the rap artist named Wize.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, Philip lived the hip-hop dream, performing on weekends as Wize and producing five albums from 2006 to 2011. By day, he was a project manager and process engineer in the banking industry, but he found his avocation as a musician “almost was an alter ego.”
Philip lived in two worlds – until a move into leadership development enabled him to combine his two passions: inspiring others with words and music, and developing people and organizations in the business world.
“I started to say to myself: ‘This is who I am. I am both rapper and professional,’” said Philip, who completed the Leadership Coaching for Organizational Development program at Rutgers.
In true mashup fashion, he took his business background and combined it with his passion for outreach and encouragement developed through his rap career. “It ties together well in my own mind. I was doing things in parallel that fed the notion that I wanted to empower people,” Philip said.
“Rap music and the hip-hop culture was a huge part of my life and almost became a career,” he explained. “What I learned through performance was the ability to be on stage to impact a crowd of people. Between songs was the opportunity to express a message to the people in the audience. I learned skills that later I found would come in to real benefit in my role as a leadership development consultant.”
Talent Management Partner
Otsuka America Pharmaceutical Inc.
Explained Philip of his career passion for leadership and executive coaching: “I really want to invest in people and want people to invest in themselves. I want people to become more self-aware. I like to empower people. That all came because I was a hip-hop artist.”
It’s not just his own artistic muse that he focuses on. He’s responsible for the leadership development strategy for the commercial and clinical business at Otsuka Pharmaceuticals based in Princeton, NJ.
Culture development and leadership coaching are key deliverables in that role. Philip boosted his capabilities in those areas through the Rutgers Leadership Coaching for Organizational Performance certificate program.
Philip continues his music career, although he’s cut back his musical performing schedule. His passion for developing others, though, has found an additional outlet in inspirational speaking for religious and other groups.
“All of these things enhance each other,” he said. “What I learn in my corporate life impacts what I’m doing externally. What I’m doing externally impacts what I do in my corporate life.”
Jersey born, Philip grew up in Delaware and graduated from the state university there with a degree in computer engineering. He began his career in the technology analyst program of BankOne for information technology governance, infrastructure and software development. “That was the starting point,” he explained. “At the time, if you wanted to have a good career you had to be in technology or engineering. I didn’t have the self awareness or understanding of my strengths that I have now.”
“Then I started to get the itch to do something out of technology,” he confessed. Philip switched to project management at the bank, working in internal consulting roles as a project lead and business process engineer.
Philip worked 10 years in that role but found himself increasingly drawn to the people side of the corporate world. “I got that itch again: ‘This is not quite it for me.’” He read voraciously in adult education and corporate training and development topics. “I started to discover that was the place where I really wanted to camp out my career.” He got an opportunity in learning and development within the bank, now part of JP Morgan Chase, in 2010, and jumped at it.
He moved into the pharmaceutical industry in 2013 with Otsuka America Pharmaceutical Inc., an innovative, fast-growing healthcare company that commercializes Otsuka-discovered and in-licensed products in the U.S., with a strong focus on neuroscience, oncology, cardio-renal and medical devices.
Now pursuing his leadership coaching certification from the International Coach Federation, Philip is taking advantage of the 132 hours of course work in the Rutgers program that collaborates with leadership coaching educators Philosophy IB.
“This program was really transformational for me from a leadership development standpoint,” he said. “Meeting people with different backgrounds in the course, the way they viewed the concepts was enriching to my experience.” In age, professional experience and industry, “there was a lot of diversity in the room.”
“I am really glad Rutgers was offering it,” said Philip. “I am an advocate of people taking advantage of this type of course for their personal and professional development.”
At the office, Philip is working with the Rutgers education partner, Philosophy IB, on a program called “Leading the Otsuka Way,” a multi-faceted development experience incorporating skills and competencies learned in the Rutgers program. For example, the inspirational leadership portion of the program focuses on helping managers effectively coach individuals and use listening skills in team environments. “It’s been impactful.”
“The skill of coaching is so applicable in so many areas of life,” Philip opined. For someone who’s integrated the diverse lives of music and business, he ought to know.
Rap, he explained, “makes an association of two things that seem apart from each other.” So too for the career of Bejoy Philip, rapper and leadership coach.
Wize music: soundcloud.com/poptheculture
Rutgers Leadership Coaching for Organizational Performance: lifelonglearning.rutgers.edu/execed/leadership-coaching