Outside of pharma, the titans in information systems, consulting, and other industries have earned their "street cred" by
collecting and publishing data that shows how training employees can drive performance as well as the organization's overall
business strategies. So why hasn't a pharmaceutical company achieved the learning-giant status of an IBM or a GE? Despite
multimillion-dollar budgets and some of the best technology money can buy, the pharma industry has yet to propel its own superstar
into the limelight. The problem could be that pharma companies still haven't concentrated on measuring—and publicizing—their
Michael Capaldi, Sanofi-Aventis
But that might be changing. Training departments are starting to take a high-profile role at many pharma, biotech, and medical
The Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers (SPBT) and Health Strategies Group worked together to create a 2007 benchmark
study of 47 companies' learning-development practices. The participants represent more than 1,600 full-time employees in training,
83,000 salespeople, and more than $200 billion in 2006 US revenues (see "Methodology of the Study,"). The organizations' joint
venture uncovered the training trends found throughout the industry.
Trend 1: More Development for More People
Sales training continues to be the bread and butter for many pharma and biotech learning and development (L&D) departments.
Yet in recent years, upper management has halted the arms race in the field. Training departments are no longer churning out
class after class of young sales recruits. Instead, heads of training are being asked to develop programs that make representatives
better businesspeople, armed with negotiation skills and financial knowledge.
"The pendulum is swinging away from quantity back to quality of sales professionals and their interactions with customers,"
says Michael Capaldi, associate vice president, sales training and management development, Sanofi-Aventis. "Couple this with
the need for field professionals to have more broad business acumen, and organizations are seeing training and development
as a key driver for this change."
Trend in Linking Training to Competency Models
In concert with this trend, training departments have developed more formalized development programs for their senior sales
management staff and regional and district managers. Marketing training, too, has become an area of focus. In 2005, only 14
percent of organizations offered training for brand managers. Today, 43 percent provide that training—with another 7 percent
planning to add this offering in the next year. Genentech's commercial training and development organization—which comprises
the marketing and sales groups—recently built a targeted curriculum for managers, marketers, account managers, and thought
leader liaisons. One area of focus is compliance training. Genentech trainers worked with their company's healthcare-compliance
office to develop comprehensive course content for training within the commercial organization. "Training is about being able
to translate strategy into execution through skills development," says Carol Wells, senior director, commercial training and
development, at Genentech. "Outside of the clinical and sales training that is typically provided by companies, Genentech
also provides the support for several functional skills—including compliance, management development, selling and account
excellence, marketing, and thought leader liaison training—which we believe will enhance the success of all our clinical specialists."