The Ipsen Group is aiming high: to become one of the ten top-performing pharmaceutical companies in the world by 2020. To achieve this goal, the group is pursuing a digital training strategy that will develop the skills of 1,000 managers across the globe, and standardize management practices throughout the company. To help it meet this intercultural challenge, the group launched the Ipsen Management Academy, a digital training platform built with the help of CrossKnowledge.
French pharmaceutical company Ipsen has made its mark as a leader in the fields of oncology, neurology and endocrinology. In the 1950s it launched Betaine Citrate onto the French market, followed by Smecta in the 70s. These days, the group has an international focus, with a presence in 115 countries and 4,600 employees in 30 subsidiaries around the globe.
Renewing the management approach
With more than 60% of the group’s managers working abroad, it is difficult and costly to bring them together several times a year for three days of face-to-face training. Ipsen needed to rethink its training methods. The Ipsen Management Academy was conceived in 2014, as part of a company-wide digitalization project supported by the information systems department. The Academy is an online learning platform focused on Ipsen’s 1,000 management-level employees, whether they are line managers or top-level executives. Its purpose is to develop a stronger management culture that then acts as an engine for change within the group. “We need exemplary management up to the highest levels of the company,” explains Cécile Dard-Giordano, VP of Global HR Development at Ipsen. “The pharmaceutical industry has traditionally tended to focus more on expertise than on management skills. Our managers feel much more confident and competent in their role as experts.” To support the change in Ipsen’s approach to management training, the Academy offers blended learning courses that concentrate on ten key management skills identified by the group’s transformation strategy. “Digital learning helps us reach more people more quickly, using an approach that is flexible and tailored to our operational requirements,” said Dard-Giordano. “This is the ideal time to digitalize our training program, because the change is aligned with the overall direction that the company is taking. We would have found a lot more difficult to implement this platform three years ago. Now, with the support of CrossKnowledge, we are implementing a digital approachat an accelerated pace.”
A ‘glocal’ solution
Internationally, Ipsen is well-established in the US, China, and Russia, but it faces a major strategic challenge in these regions: namely, how to adapt training to local needs, while still nurturing the unified management culture of the group through a common core of training content. “Management in China is not the same as management in Europe and the US,” explains Dard-Giordano. From the outset, the Ipsen Management Academy has been available in French, English, Chinese and Russian, although for China and Russia, Ipsen worked with CrossKnowledge to develop dedicated training paths adapted to each country, culture and language. Each Academy training course is about three months long, and offers a wide variety of learning formats (e-learning modules, expert videos, news articles, etc.) in addition to classroom sessions. “We chose CrossKnowledge because it is a leader in its sector, and because it’s an innovative company that is able to adapt and to significantly innovate its programs,” says Dard-Giordano. Indeed, Ipsen is one of five companies with similar goals working together to co-finance CrossKnowledge’s development of a ‘glocal’ training solution.
Involvement at all levels
Dard-Giordano’s team played a significant role in the project when it began, working alongside with CrossKnowledge’s teams. The different training programs took nine months to develop, as it was important to make sure that they truly met the needs of the group in terms of strategy. The Ipsen Management Academy was officially launched in May 2015 with an internal communication campaign across all group entities globally. Local HR representatives also underwent training to enable them to manage the platform effectively within their own region. After their performance reviews, managers were gradually registered for training depending on their development paths and needs. “The initial feedback shows positive results,” says Dard-Giordano. “We’re already seeing some of the tangible outcomes we were expecting, including improved management practices in line with our business transformation goals, and managers taking on responsibilities in line with their role. We were hoping to improve as a result of this project, and we have already begun to do so.”