Three success stories
SOLVAY PHARMACEUTICALS is the research-based sector of the global Solvay Group and one of the top 40 pharmaceutical companies in the world. Solvay Healthcare is the UK arm of the business and is a small to medium-sized company. It employs over 160 people and generated sales of over £50 million in 2005. Perhaps there is nothing extraordinary in these facts alone. 160 people may not sound a lot to one of the big corporations, but it is Solvay’s commitment to investing in those 160 people that makes it unique. Despite its size, Solvay has a real commitment to recognising and utilising talent within the company, and there is no doubt that this dedication to its employees helped to win Solvay a place in both the 2005 and 2006 Sunday Times List of 100 Best Small Companies to Work For.
You only have to look at their five company values to get an idea of Solvay’s priorities, three of which relate to Human Resources:
Respect for people: Encouragement to exercise creativity and leadership, giving opportunities for every individual to develop his/her full potential.
Empowerment: Fostering a culture that encourages delegation, risk taking, speed of response, accountability and partnership in order to adapt effectively to an uncertain and rapidly changing world.
Teamwork: Developing a learning organisation by building teamwork with open communications across the organisation, sharing knowledge, technologies and best practices.
Solvay demonstrates these values through its various development initiatives.
“If you show a desire to progress and have potential, Solvay will develop you”
Investing in people
People within Solvay can develop in many ways – through mentoring, on the job training or attending relevant development courses. One succession management initiative within the company is the Key Replacement Programme (KRP). KRP is designed to identify and develop the potential talent of future Solvay managers. Every year employees are invited to apply, with their line manager’s endorsement. They are then put through a rigorous selection process and, if successful, are entered into a 2-3 year formal development programme. This involves a course of study in management and/or marketing and a funded diploma followed by specific development in leadership.
Pf asked Tracie Weale, National Healthcare Development Manager, why she feels KRP is a valuable scheme: “What I find unique about Solvay is our commitment to providing two routes of progression. If an individual wants to remain in their current role, there are schemes through which their progression can be recognised. Alternatively, there are other options for individuals who have the potential to progress their career within Solvay Healthcare. The Key Replacement Scheme offers an insight into other roles within the organisation, an opportunity to take on extra responsibility and in return Solvay offer substantial investment in the individuals’ development. Key Replacement is also important for the company, as we are able to create a “bank” of people to complement our succession plan.”
Throughout the years this scheme has had unprecedented success in placing Solvay employees into key positions within the company. The following are three examples of people who started with Solvay as medical representatives but, through the scheme, have boosted their career into management or marketing.
An open door to the UK
Gobnait O’Shaughnessy worked for Solvay in the Republic of Ireland as a Medical Representative from 1999 to 2003. In 2003 it was necessary for her and her husband to move to the UK, and Gobnait intended to hand in her notice. However, the fact that she had gone through the Key Replacement Programme in Ireland had not gone unnoticed, and she was amazed at the doors that opened up for her.
The CEO of the company knew her through her involvement in Key Replacement and recommended her to the Sales Manager in the region she was moving to. She was offered a job as a Primary and Secondary Care Representative, where she stayed for two years. Her achievements through the programme were readily recognised in the UK and she was soon promoted into a Regional Sales Manager’s role.
Gobnait commented on how Solvay had supported her through her change in circumstances: “Because I had been involved with the Key Replacement scheme my career went into fast-track once I came to the UK. If you show a desire to progress and have potential, Solvay will develop you.”
A sideways step
Lorraine Griffiths joined Solvay in 1995 as a parttime representative, moving into a full-time GP/Hospital Representative role 18 months later. From there she was promoted to Hospital Representative, and then to Hospital Executive, a job title that reflected her achievement as one of the top 3 hospital representatives in the company. In 1999 she entered the Key Replacement Programme, which she describes as the ‘springboard’ in her career, and by the end of the year was in a temporary Regional Sales Manager role covering maternity leave. By the time this came to an end, a permanent RSM role became available, and Lorraine’s application was successful.
Five years later and Lorraine was ready for a new challenge. Attracted to the Healthcare Development side of the business, she moved sideways to become a Healthcare Development Executive. However, within 9 months she was able to take on the role of Healthcare Development Manager, which she started in September this year.
She feels Solvay has been enormously supportive in her career development, even when she chose not to take the ‘prescribed’ route: “Whenever I felt I wanted a challenge, an opportunity seemed to open up. Key Replacement was a great chance to lift my head above the role I was in. I was able to increase my profile within the company, and get involved with the bigger picture.”
A global opportunity
Noel Hanley is another success story, with, perhaps, an even more incredible career path. Joining Solvay in 1998, Bristol graduate Noel began his career as a trainee medical representative in North London. Within two years he had become a fully-fledged representative and gained a place on the Key Replacement Scheme. Through the scheme, Noel was promoted to Healthcare Development Executive, and a year later took a role providing maternity cover as Marketing Executive for Teveten® in the Cardiology Department. With the addition of the product Omacor®, Noel was quickly promoted first to Product Manager and then to Senior Product Manager.
Noel’s progress attracted the attention of Patrick Vergauwe, VP Cardiometabolic Global Marketing, and he has since been promoted to Global Product Director in Cardiology and relocated to Hanover.
Noel commented on this next challenge in his career with Solvay: “I’ve come in at an early stage for one product that’s already making waves in the medical world, so it’s an exciting time to join.” Regarding his relocation, he added: “Solvay has a family-based culture. They’ve shown a real commitment to me and made the move as easy as possible.”
Di Smith, Human Resources Manager, commented, “These 3 case studies are by no means exclusive - we have many other examples which demonstrate the company’s total commitment to recognising and developing individuals for a variety of different roles.”
The case studies demonstrate Solvay’s genuine commitment to making the ambitions of its staff become reality, and to working with its employees’ desires and personal circumstances to develop their careers the way that suits them. If you’re an ambitious individual looking for a company with a real passion for developing people, consider Solvay. You could be their next success story.