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2013 Global Learning – Division 1

GOLD: Sharon Moshayof and Nancy Singer, Merck

Merck is known for its international reach, but when the White Horse, N.J.-based pharmaceutical company examined its global strategy, leaders realized they had to refine their companywide plan to penetrate and maintain solid growth in a number of emerging markets.

While researching strategies to pursue in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, the maker of such drugs as Singulair and Cozaar determined that market conditions and competition in those regions can be volatile. Standard business practices can be anything but standard. Regulatory compliance can vary widely, and there are language barriers as well as cultural ambiguities.

Rather than follow the tradition of placing expatriates as leaders in these markets, Merck developed local talent for leadership positions. Turnover, however, was an issue among high-potential leaders, so the company focused not only on leadership development but on building loyalty, too. It prompted Merck executives Sharon Moshayof and Nancy Singer to develop the Emerging Markets Future Leader program.

Based on Harvard Business Publishing’s Leadership Direct program, content areas were designed to help participants shift from serving as transactional managerial contributors to guiding as strategic transformational leaders. Incorporating Merck’s senior leadership in teaching positions proved to be a key program element.

Virtual learning scored high marks among participants. Merck targeted an 80 percent participation rate, with the actual outcome at 85 percent. On end-of-program surveys, participants noted they retained much of what they had learned six months later, and program leaders saw employee retention rates move in a positive direction.

SILVER: Hariraj Vijayakumar, Global Head of Cognizant Academy, Cognizant Technology Solutions

It wasn’t that long ago that Cognizant Technology Solutions was a Georgia-based firm with a cozy staff of about 175 people. Now that it is an international tech consultancy boasting more than 164,000 workers and the Cognizant Academy, learning has become a strategic differentiator for the organization.

Cognizant Academy has provided significant learning and development numbers in recent years: 17 million hours of training in 2012; 47 learning hubs and 1,328 internal and 238 external trainers cultivating talent while combing college campuses for new hires.

Still, with an extensive global footprint that reaches across five continents and is spread across multiple accounts and clients, managing talent and supporting their continuous professional development presented challenges. But as a company that was “born global,” as executives like to say, Cognizant Academy has built on its global heritage and its virtual platforms to meet the challenges of a worldwide marketplace.

Diverse employees require training to build on their local insights and expand a global mindset and organizational culture. Understanding language barriers, cultural and demographic differences and virtual styles of working are all crucial to the organization’s success.

BRONZE (TIE): Rob Lauber, Vice President, Yum University, Yum Brands Inc.

Yum Brands Chairman and CEO David Novak has been teaching his three-day “Taking People With You” leadership program to managers and franchisees for the past 15 years, and company leaders wanted to expand his evangelizing globally to restaurant general managers and above.

With 39,000 such employees speaking 32 different languages, Novak couldn’t train them all. So, after he published a book on leadership, Yum University implemented his teachings through 14 modules that were translated into several languages. The universal leadership principles have since provided a consistent approach to business and a foundational resource for leadership within the organization.

BRONZE (TIE): Chuck Battipede, Senior Vice President and Chief Learning Officer, Hewlett-Packard

Tech firm Hewlett-Packard wanted to hire staff for long-term potential, not just in-the-moment fixes. To develop talent with the future in mind, the company conceived HP University in late 2012. Launched in April, HPU came with about 10,000 courses. It has met with great success. Company leaders praised its launch, and HP learners offered positive feedback. “My compliments on the university,” said one user. “Great idea and much better organized than our past learning portals.”