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2013 Strategy – Division 1

GOLD: Wendy Kouba, Executive Director, Merck Biologics, Vaccines and Sterile Manufacturing Strategy Realization Office

Merck & Co. Inc.’s Biologics, Vaccines and Sterile Manufacturing organization needed to improve efficiency of its manufacturing process. Because of inefficiencies caused by human error and deviations, the pharmaceutical company struggled to meet growing demand for its vaccines. This resulted in billions of dollars in discarded products and lost revenue.

To fix the inefficiencies and bolster employees’ understanding of the business, Merck’s senior management hired Wendy Kouba as its executive director for the unit. Kouba was tasked with creating a learning component that would address the inefficiencies amid the company’s staid learning and development culture.

Kouba developed a learning program to rebuild the unit’s culture with a focus on common goals, metrics and outcomes; a measurable process based on data to identify capability gaps and align leadership; a standardized learning approach, with a curriculum that was scalable and transferable across Merck’s manufacturing division; and a basis for knowledge transfer to increase employee engagement.

To provide this framework, Kouba developed the Merck Learning Academies, a classroom-based, multilevel curriculum. The courses aimed to build cross-functional knowledge of the vaccine manufacturing process and the science and technology behind it, as well as increase understanding of how employees’ decisions affect products and patients. It also aimed to develop leadership capability to drive change and foster collaboration and independent thinking.

After the curriculum’s first year, the academies spread to include almost 20 percent of Merck’s manufacturing employees globally. After its third year, the quantitative business impact of the academies has resulted in a revenue increase of more than 25 percent. Decreases in human error-related deviations have averaged nearly 45 percent in reductions at sites across the firm’s manufacturing network.

SILVER: Dhamayanthi N, Associate Vice President, HCL Technologies Ltd.
HCL Technologies Ltd. wanted to improve its project manager competency training.

The project management function, viewed as one of the more critical roles in the company’s delivery organization, had become the culprit of customer dissatisfaction and low performance effectiveness scores. The company sought a learning program that was scalable and customizable to its needs.

Led by Dhamayanthi N, the firm’s associate vice president, the company developed the Project Management Academy, which offered a diagnostic to identify competency gaps, a learning intervention to increase project manager effectiveness and to develop leadership competencies among project managers. It also offered access to learning resources, a platform for employees to learn and share, and support for certified managers.

As part of the academy, participants received access to content from external sources and Web applications aimed at being a one-stop shop for certification status information. Communities and discussion forums were also available.

To date, 352 project managers have been internally certified through the academy. Among the more notable results are that the company experienced a 20 percent increase in project delivery on time and within budget as well as improvement in efficiency scores and customer satisfaction.

BRONZE: William Magagna, Director of Global Product Education, Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics
In an effort to streamline cost savings, increase efficiencies and drive new revenue, Siemens’ Global Product Education unit created a 12- to 18-month initiative to bolster the company’s diagnostics division.

The initiative included three stages. First, leaders had to identify functions within the company as cost reduction targets, with a need to improve efficiencies and revenue growth. Second, it was necessary to pair proper learning programs to them. Third was to position the global product education team with all business units to deliver on short-term goals and provide for a long-term vision.

The initiative resulted in an increase of more than 2 million in online portfolio and LMS usage.