to help people think holistically about the business
PHILADELPHIA (PRWEB) March 12, 2008
Shire has quickly built a $10 billion market cap global biopharmaceutical company by marketing products to specialist medical doctors and merging with seven companies over 10 years. Such rapid growth requires talent management and careful integration of people and strategies to continue the success, says Mike Cola, president, Specialty Pharmaceuticals and member of the Shire Management Committee. He helped set up the first Shire General Management and Leadership Program last fall as part of ongoing integration and talent management. The company has scheduled two similar business management programs during 2008.
"The number one objective of the Wharton program, geared towards talent management, is to develop the leadership skills of existing and future general managers," Cola says.
At Shire, general managers have broader and deeper responsibilities than at many pharmaceutical companies, according to Cola. "General managers can be 'mini' CEOs of a product or a set of products -- soup to nuts -- from manufacturing right through to the customer," Cola says. Shire's general managers must create the culture of a smaller company within the larger Shire. "We want a small entrepreneurial leadership team that gets a lot done and is willing to take measured risks. That is how we differentiate ourselves from Big Pharma," Cola explains. In return, general managers get to "leverage a much larger balance sheet than they would at most private or public companies."
Cola turned to Wharton as a partner in the program initiative to develop "business management with an entrepreneurial spirit." After Cola had considered several options, "Wharton was the closest fit," he says. "That, coupled with their willingness to customize the program, is what really sold us. Now we've signed up for two more sessions."
Shire's general manager model flies against the industry grain. Cola notes that large pharmaceutical companies no longer rotate key managers around their organization to provide a 360-degree business overview, as they did 10 to 15 years ago. Many of today's managers spend whole careers in "functional stovepipes," Cola says. "We're trying to break away from that by moving people throughout the organization. This program is a good way to support the additional competencies that we are trying to instill." The program includes sessions on strategy and execution, managing talent and culture, global biopharmaceutical trends, M&A issues, value creation, and managing across organizational boundaries.
Shire's strategy is to become the top specialty biopharmaceutical company focused on serving specialist physicians globally. At present, the company is targeting attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders, human genetic therapies, and gastrointestinal and renal diseases. Shire initially built its business around small molecules but moved into large molecules when it acquired Transkaryotic Therapies Inc., now known as Shire Human Genetics Therapies. This was a key move in establishing Shire as a biopharmaceutical company.
With two distinct businesses now in small and large molecules, Shire is careful to preserve the autonomy of these businesses while focusing on supporting them with strong corporate functions and uniting them with a distinct overall Shire culture. "We felt all the pieces were in place and we could start to invest in our senior leaders and execute against the model," Cola says.
One dramatic measure of the Wharton program's value came when some non-financial managers experienced an "ah-ha!" moment while reviewing case studies, Cola says. Presenters offered case studies of companies that grew largely through M&As, such as Shire. "They might look like they have a good return on investment, they might have a good top and bottom line and even their EPS might look good. But when you look closely at the cash they are burning through, it may not be such a pretty picture," Cola explains. That was an epiphany for many attendees: acquiring firms must add value to their acquisitions. The Wharton program helped Shire to enhance its managers' "financial acumen," Cola says.
A key goal of the program is "to help people think holistically about the business," says Mario Moussa, academic director and co-author of The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas. "They walk away with a common way of seeing and understanding problems, and they create a kind of 'mini-culture' that radiates through the business."
Another top program goal has been to ensure that attendees internalize the knowledge they gain and use it back at the office, notes Charlotte Sibley, an attendee who is now senior vice president of leadership development. Responsible for spearheading the upcoming programs, Sibley did not want them to become "credenza-ware." "We didn't want our managers to come back to the office, put their binder notes on the credenza, and go right back to their routine. We wanted to make this sustainable." Wharton builds that awareness into the program, she says.
Now Wharton and Shire are working on an "Action Learning Program," in which some attendees will return to Wharton specifically to integrate the tools and concepts attendees picked up over the long term, notes Sharon L. Berney, Wharton's program director.
The Wharton program represents Shire's investment in its people, according to Cola. "We are very much a people-driven organization. This program shows that even in a challenging environment for pharmaceutical companies -- with increasing pressures to control costs -- we are still willing to invest and try to grow folks internally."
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