Strive to show your worth in dollars and cents.
“In difficult times, training is one of the first things that gets cut,” Suzanne Frawley said. “Now many companies look at training as a cost center for their organization.” After nearly four-and-a-half years as a training and development manager at Novartis Animal Health, Frawley’s position was eliminated in July.
But by late September, the Columbus, Ohio, resident and HRLadder member had landed an interview for the position of learning and development manager at the local offices of German pharmaceutical giant Boehringer Ingelheim. She began work at her new company in mid-October.
Frawley had originally considered a career as a veterinarian or doctor before a chance intervention made her change tack. She worked for a veterinarian throughout school, and one day she was approached by one of the salespeople who called on the office where she worked.
His advice would change her course: “I’ve been meaning to tell you that the way you work with people and with your knowledge, you would make a great sales rep. I know that you’ve been thinking seriously about veterinary medicine, but I would encourage you to take a look at this profession because of the kind of income that you can make and the benefits.” Frawley decided to take the plunge and started as a company sales rep for [Pharmacia Animal Health ]”I was fortunate to have a very good manager and was able to do well and learn a lot.” Frawley went from sales consultant to training manager but stayed within the animal-health side because it was an arena in which she already had a strong background and felt a sense of familiarity.
Although all of her previous experience had been focused on animal health, when she found the position at Boehringer Ingelheim she was ready to explore new territory. While Boehringer Ingelheim does produce animal-health products, the human-pharmaceuticals sector is the company’s largest division, accounting for by far the greatest percentage of its sales. “I’m learning more and I’m seeing a different side of the business, which I am really enjoying,” she said.
Frawley closely investigated the company before accepting the position. “In my research,” she said, “I found out they are privately owned by a family, and that attracted me to them. And other individuals at other locations within Boehringer Ingelheim had told me about the company culture. It was described as a positive, coaching type of culture, and that intrigued me. And they were growing and still are in a growth mode.” 120 years after the company’s establishment, Boehringer Ingelheim is one of the world’s top 20 pharmaceutical companies, and for some years has been one of the fastest-growing companies in the pharmaceutical industry.
But these are tough times, and pharma has not been immune. While some pharmaceutical stocks have continued to rise regardless of fluctuations in the nation’s economy, “there certainly are,” she said, “pharmaceutical companies that are cutting their sales forces. Pfizer just announced a restructuring in Europe. They are cutting their Paris office, and about 800 people are going to be scaled back. Glaxo is cutting. So I think that the economy is hitting pharma.”
Trainers must stand and deliver
In this environment, Frawley recommended that anyone working in the pharmaceutical field – especially in training – should strive to show their worth in dollars and cents. Rarely will an organization completely eliminate training, but learning and development managers are increasingly under pressure to justify their fiscal value to the firm. Companies, Frawley said, are now more sensitive about how training adds value to the organization. “So one of the things I realized, as I wrote my resume and had coaching on resume preparation, was that I needed to demonstrate what I have saved for the company or how I have increased performance results for individuals.
“So as I wrote my resume,” Frawley recalled, “I really had to translate what I had done into value numbers and how much I had saved.” For example, she was able to show how she had saved her firm more than $140,000 by sharing pace-learning programs throughout the company at a global level. “That was one of my bullet points – or ‘accomplishment statements,’ as we call them – on my resume. Once I had figured that out and put it into print, I thought: ‘Wow! That is what companies are now interested in.’ ”