The FT yesterday ran a piece about a programme for the development of women leaders at Novartis. The programme was headed by Duke Corporate Education MD, Liz Mellon.
The reason this article caught my eye, is that our workshops and programmes team from TomorrowToday were involved in this programme when it kicked off last year. And we agree with the FT: it’s a fantastic initiative! And was incredibly well put together by Duke CE.
As the FT put it: “Novartis, like other big companies eager to develop internal talent, runs plenty of executive development courses,” explains Claudia Bidwell, head of talent management, organisation development and staffing for Novartis Pharmaceuticals. Novartis turned to Duke for a customised project, after a beauty contest, because there was nothing like it on the market. “I spent a lot of time trying to find a programme like this.”
What was particularly unusual – apart from the single-sex composition – is the scheme’s breadth. Spread over a year, the programme involved 10 days of group sessions, in three blocks. Participants engaged not just in conventional team building exercises, but much deeper and wider development modules. Those included leadership skills, from strictly personal, to leading others, to leading a business. There was also an unusually close involvement with top management. Apart from direct coaching, participants were split into groups, each directly mentored by a member of Novartis Pharmaceuticals’ executive committee and each addressing a genuine strategic issue.
I am sure that Novartis are seeing the benefits of this investment.