GSK offers a world of opportunities
GlaxoSmithKline employs more than 100,000 people around the globe. But its size doesn’t inhibit the company from having a very personal approach to grooming its future leaders.
(Click here to view the complete Future Leaders Summit report.)
The first point of entry is the Future Leaders Program, which targets stand-out candidates as they graduate from universities. GSK is willing to give graduates a chance to get their first working experience. “Their mind is like an unwritten book,” said Line De Decker, VP human resources for Europe and Americas at GSK Consumer Health. “They go on a rotation program that offers so many experiences they can learn from.”
Participants in the Future Leaders Program gain broad-ranging experience working across a variety of business functions. During the rotations, employees experience different roles from marketing and sales to communications and supply chain. Throughout the program, GSK managers and mentors are readily available to help accelerate the learning and set the candidates on the path to success.
The Future Leaders Program typically selects graduates through a competitive process. “They really are the leaders for the future of our company,” De Decker said. “We want the best and the brightest.”
To attract employees with prior commercial experience and MBA degrees on their resumes, GSK has the Esprit Program. This also is a rotational program curated to craft tomorrow’s leaders. The Esprit associates take on a series of stretching commercial management roles, both within their home region and international markets. “I am so impressed with every single one of the Esprit associates I have interacted with,” De Decker said.
GSK also has innovative initiatives to retain its employees. One of its jewels is the Pulse Volunteer Project. “We send employees on a six-month mission to work with a nonprofit organization, such as Save the Children,” De Decker said.
The employees are matched with an interest, such as a physician who travels to a country to operate on children with eye disease. The opportunity is available to all GSK employees. Some success stories include Randy Easterly, a retail category solutions manager, who in 2010 spent six months working with Direct Relief International after a major earthquake hit Haiti. “Being a Pulse volunteer was one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life,” Easterly said. “During my time working with Direct Relief International, I was able to use my business skills that were developed at GSK to help Direct International. Pulse opens your eyes to a totally different world than you live in day to day.”
“This is a very original way of engaging people,” De Decker said. “They come back as better leaders and employees. They can put things into perspective, and they learn to think out of the box. It is a wonderful experience.”
It also dovetails nicely with millennials’ quest to “do good,” while also creating lifetime experiences. “They get to do something they care about and experience something they might never get to do in their careers,” De Decker added.
Not surprisingly, GSK has an enviably high retention rate. That also is supported by a development theory called 70-20-10. What this refers to is that 70% of career development is on the job, 20% is through coaching and mentoring, and 10% is formal training. To that end, GSK invites employees to engage in dialogues with managers and build conversations based on job experiences. “Development is much more than formal training courses,” De Decker said.
Millennials bring bountiful benefits to companies, De Decker added. She said they are broad-thinking, flexible and can work across boundaries, including not only countries, but also function. Rather than driven to climb the proverbial career ladder, they don’t only want to go up. “It isn’t only about the ladder,” De Decker said. “It is about the lattice. Broadening their experience is worth as much as stepping up.”
Their networking acumen — sharpened through social networking — has made millennials more proactive in connecting. “They build a web of connections, they have friends across the world and are at ease with different cultures,” she said. Millennials also help develop business strategies for a digital world.
De Decker coaches future leaders to build their paths in a methodical manner. “I tell them to think two roles ahead and build experience step by step,” De Decker said. “Let each role be a stepping stone for the next move.” She also encourages the next generation to learn a language, which is “almost like having another degree.”
GSK appeals to people with core values that match its mission. Some employees have joined because they witnessed babies die of a vaccine-preventable disease or to help alleviate pain they’ve watched loved ones struggle with, De Decker noted. “Our people help change the world.”
Ansell: Value system drives employees, company growth
In the world of HBC manufacturing and beyond, the best and brightest people — not the products themselves — have become the linchpin for growth. It’s against this backdrop that Ansell, in the “spirit of growing a positive culture,” has over the past seven years developed a value system that is the basis for recruiting, motivating and training talent.
(Click here to view the complete Future Leaders Summit report.)
“The goal is that everyone will have a vision for themselves and for the company that drives growth and innovation,” said Carol Carrozza, VP marketing, North America for Ansell’s sexual wellness global business unit.
The value system has seven tenets — integrity, trustworthiness, creativity, involvement, passion, agility, teamwork and excellence. These tenets, Carrozza explained, are in Ansell’s view the characteristics of an engaged employee, a future leader and a potential mentor for incoming recruits. “It’s understood that an individual who espouses these qualities will drive an innovative and engaging culture that is people-oriented; candid and transparent; decisive; global-and long-term oriented; driven to be faster, better and smarter; proactive; and risk-tolerant,” she said. “This, more than the fact that someone” has a certain education or worked for a competitor in a similar position, “is what Ansell looks for in its recruits.”
A comprehensive mentoring program complements and supports this value system. To allow for a more open relationship between mentors and mentees, the latter are typically assigned to mentors outside their direct reporting line. Mentors and men-tees are matched according to disciplines, competencies and personal empathy for the individual mentee. The mentor role does not include taking over responsibility for mentee performance reviews or staffing-related decisions from mentees’ managers. It does encompass sharing expertise or perspective to develop a specific mentee skill-set and/or capability, as well as offering clear, concrete suggestions for growth, as well as perspectives based on personal experience. Ansell uses the PIE form of mentoring, especially for female mentees. This, Carrozza said, helps them to build business performance, enhance their executive image and gain exposure.
To illustrate the benefits of the mentoring program, Carrozza shared an anecdote about one woman whom she mentored — an Ansell employee who had come from France to work for the company in the United States. While the woman was “brilliant,” Carrozza recalled, she had difficulty relating to others on her team, and every first interaction with new colleagues “started off on the wrong foot, with a lot of antagonism.” Carrozza determined that part of the issue was related to the fact that the mentee, being French, “loved the debate — which is not something we do in the United States.” In addition to other assistance, Carrozza shared with the mentee four concrete steps to follow when communicating with colleagues — “an approach that would start an open exchange or dialogue.” Considerable improvement followed.
There is other training as well. For instance, Ansell — which has affiliates in more than 50 countries around the world — now maintains a diversity program aimed at assisting its employees in working with people of other cultures and genders. The program includes self-teaching online, as well as in-person workshops held at various times of the year.
“The objective here is that there is compassion and empathy when people work across borders,” Carrozza said.
Training within disciplines — for instance, brand management, manufacturing operation and supply chain — is provided in-house. A three-day leadership workshop rounds out the options.
Training and mentoring notwithstanding, Carrozza said Ansell still encounters challenges related to the new workforce. “They’re not patient, and they have big expectations,” she stated. “They come in and ask how quickly they can become a vice president, and how quickly they can accelerate. We have to set expectations. We say, ‘we’ll work with you, but it has to be a two way street.’ They need to understand and live by our values, and have the competencies that suggest they are ready to move up. It takes effort from both sides, but it can happen when it all comes together.”
Finding the courage to embrace risk
Joe Magnacca, CEO of Massage Envy
In the legendary words of the late, great radio broadcaster Paul Harvey, “And now, the rest of the story.”
(Click here to view the complete Future Leaders Summit report.)
Retail visionary Joe Magnacca, currently CEO of leading massage franchise operation Massage Envy, joined the inaugural Future Leaders Summit, jointly produced by Drug Store News and Mack Elevation Forum, to talk about a subject he knows a lot about — having the courage to take risk.
Indeed, Magnacca’s rather impressive body of work — from 17 years spent at Loblaws to online startup Grocery Gateway, to Shoppers Drug, and then onto the United States, first at Duane Reade and then Walgreens for five years, followed by four tough years at the helm at RadioShack and now leading Massage Envy — has been largely built on embracing risk. In a light, humorous and at times brutally honest discussion, Magnacca explained why he continues to roll the dice and embrace change, outlined his criteria for what defines risk-taking and walked attendees through his own thought processes for some of the biggest decisions he has made over his career.
“To me, risk is all about change. Having the courage to make change in a business, whether it’s an existing business, or a new business or redefining a category — it’s all about change,” Magnacca said.
Being a risk-taker comes down to three key factors, he explained: Having the courage to embrace change; taking that courage to redefine the space you operate in; and in the process of redefining that space, thinking in terms of a revolution rather than an evolution.
But change and taking risk aren’t always so easy to do in the merchant-driven world of retail, Magnacca admitted, where the inclination is to play it safe and to look back to try to replicate past successes rather than look ahead to try to “change the game.”
To help encourage his merchants to “take that second step,” Magnacca challenged his teams at Shoppers, and later at Duane Reade and Walgreens, to look forward to where their businesses were going in the years ahead. “I would use this very simple tactic, and I would encourage you all to view your own businesses this way. I would ask, ‘Where is this category going to be in five years?’”
When you ask a merchant what will happen to their category in five years, you release them from that backward-looking, risk-averse style of thinking, he explained. Once they are focused on the changes that are coming, the discussion shifts to how to get there. “And then I would back that up. So, to do that in five years what needs to happen in three years? And what’s going to happen in three years needs to begin next year, so we have to start on that journey,” he said. “You’ll never start that journey if you don’t know where it is that you’re going.”
Providing a first-hand look at what it means to be a risk-taker and a change agent, Magnacca spoke frankly about one of the most challenging chapters of his career, his decision to leave Walgreens in 2013 — just one week following his promotion to president of the company — to become the CEO of RadioShack.
Looking back on the move, anyone who really knew Magnacca couldn’t have been majorly surprised by the decision, he explained.
“RadioShack, although challenged, had a lot of things going for it,” he said — technology is a fast-growing category, and RadioShack had the potential to harness that growth across its 4,400 U.S.-owned and -operated stores, plus another 1,000 franchised locations. In addition, the company “had an amazing private-brand history,” Magnacca added, a major sweet spot for the career merchant, he confessed.
No doubt, the challenges were significant. For one thing, the company was faced with having to write-off almost 10% of inventory.
Still, despite the challenges — and there were many, from weekly cash meetings to determine things like if the company could afford to buy inventory, make payroll or pay for a promotion, to wrangling with bankers about making critically necessary changes to the business — Magnacca swears he would do it all over again.
A self-proclaimed “merchant first and a marketer second,” the experience at RadioShack forced him out of his comfort zone and made him have to refocus his attention on financials and P&L management. “I don’t regret it,” he said. “Because at the end of the day, what it taught me was that if you don’t take that risk, you’ll never really know what you can achieve.”