Building a pipeline for Country Managers

The client’s challenge

Quintiles is a company that relies on long term relationships with a vast number of customers and external stakeholders in the pharmaceutical industry, as well as with government bodies. To leverage and expand their network within and across countries it is critical for Quintiles to retain their key position holders. An efficient succession planning process in general and for their executive roles (such as Country Manager) in particular is therefore of utmost importance.

When Quintiles turned to FLI, they were looking for support in establishing a solution that could accelerate their process of identifying and developing successors for Country Manager roles.

The process

To be able to accurately identify high potentials for Country Manager roles, it is essential to completely understand what makes a person excel in the role and what could potentially make someone derail. To fully discover what behaviours are likely to “make or break” a Country Manager, FLI initiated a project in which a number of successful Country Managers were interviewed on their success stories. They were asked questions such as what behaviours they used or avoided that enabled them and their teams to be successful, or what key challenges they encountered and how they overcame these. Equally important, they were invited to describe what they thought would be critical to success, based on their vision for their future business.

Based on this, a competence profile with the most critical behavioural indicators was established. The model consisted of a manageable number of leadership capabilities, some generic for the industry and others very specific based on Quintiles’ strategy for future growth. The model was then evaluated by the management team and a few adjustments were made to ensure it was aligned with Quintiles’ vision, strategy, values and culture.

When the success profile for a Country Manager was established, FLI designed a Development Centre, consisting of a number of challenging business simulations, questionnaires and tests to assess high potentials.

The FLI Solution

The Development Centre that was finally implemented consisted of:

  • A business challenge, including entrepreneurial dimensions.
  • A board presentation with recommendations for a strategic plan.
  • An interview with a journalist.
  • A performance review with a subordinate manager.
  • A one-on-one career aspiration interview.
  • Assessment of Personality, Values and Motives.
  • Cognitive tests

Following the Development Centre, each person received:

  • Feedback and Coaching by a senior consultant.
  • A detailed report that included:
    • An executive summary.
    • A rating of their current level of capability against the success profile.
    • An explanation of their strengths and competency ‘gaps’.
    • A suggested prioritisation of their individual development needs.

Each participant was then encouraged to define their Individual Development Plan.

Finally each individual’s line manager and HR manager joined them in a following-up session along with the senior consultant, about a month after the Development Centre. This meeting helped the person to focus on development projects which would have the greatest business impact and thus accelerate the individual’s career progression.

Accurate, continuous and adequate support and evaluation of each person’s progress was also secured.

The outcome and success of the program

The program has been hugely successful for Quintiles.

  • The investment has indeed paid off since it immediately enabled a seamless and successful succession of several Country Managers roles.
  • The business driven development plans for each participating individual has helped both the organisation and individuals to better manage obstacles and challenges in a very demanding business environment.
  • Enabling all High Potentials involved to take full responsibility for the development process, with endorsement by their manager and support from the HR team, has proven to be very powerful and helped accelerate their progress into senior roles.
  • Simultaneously, leaders not yet prepared and/or motivated for the complexity and pressure on a Country Manager level have been supported in preparing themselves for these roles later on in their careers, or identify alternative, equally successful tracks for the future.