Upskilling to
keep ahead

Boehringer Ingelheim’s mission is to improve lives of patients and animals, while striving to embed the patient's perspective into everything the company does.

All this requires hard scientific, medical, data analysis and project execution skills, as well as softer capabilities like communications and leadership, all attributes which must be encouraged and renewed throughout the organization of more than 53,500, just to keep pace in highly competitive markets.

Therefore, the company needs to organize itself as a continuous learning organization, developing and upgrading specialist knowledge to identify unmet pharmacological needs, while also expanding a diverse workforce to help them advance their careers or reskill into newly emerging roles.

Launch of the Boehringer Ingelheim University

Which is why, after years of hard graft aligning all the systems, in late 2023 the company launched Boehringer Ingelheim University and its platform, the Virtual Campus featuring personalized and skill-based development to address individual employee learning and career development demands based on business needs.

“Every organization is no better than the people it employs,” says Sierra Towers, Vice President of Go To Market & Operations in the United States.

“We only exist because we have people who are experts in their fields, in the work that they do,” Towers adds. “It’s critically important that we continue to invest in our people. The best way to do that is to help them build new skills.”

No Silly Questions –
Boehringer Ingelheim University

The virtual campus: A personalized learning environment

Online learning management systems come and go but the University offers Boehringer’s workforce a new, more accessible and flexible way of learning from a wealth of online classes, specialist libraries and business training materials. It brings together all the company’s internal and external education and training resources in one place on employees’ desktops.

The new Virtual Campus contrasts with older, classic learning management systems. Here, every employee has the possibility to create their own profile, based on their skills and experience and they can set up individual development goals, so called focus skills. The AI behind the system will then recommend relevant content available on the platform, externally or curated content from inside of Boehringer, for employees to learn at their own pace, but with the opportunity to share valuable content with colleagues or peers.

Besides surfacing loads of personalized content, the Virtual Campus features a variety of local learning offerings for Boehringer locations around the world. It integrates and consolidates live and online courses, virtual learning pathways and news from a wide variety of both external and internal sources. It helps people learn both what they need to know to grow in their current roles while allowing them to branch out in new directions.

Externally, we have, besides others, partnered with industry standard platforms such as LinkedIn Learning, which provides short courses in business and technical skills with titles like “The Six Morning Habits of High Performers” or “Excel: You Can Do This”, as well as GetAbstract, with its business book and article summaries. The site also encourages users to catch up on breaking business news or take a deeper dive into management skills training.

What works for the employees

Hear how the University users are responding to the new learning tools.

“In a generation where going digital is the norm, these platforms can help us develop our skills and capabilities.”

Frederic Catacutan
Frederic Catacutan,
Sales Representative for the Philippines based in Makati City

“In a generation where going digital is the norm, these platforms can help us develop our skills and capabilities, “ says Frederic Catacutan, a Sales Representative for the Philippines based in Boehringer’s office in Makati City, the business district of Manila. He’s a recent joiner after graduating from the University of San Carlos.

Today, the Virtual Campus features learning content from 13 internal learning spaces or academies tailored to specific organizational functions or business units. The Onboarding Academy ensures a smooth transition for new hires, for example, while the Leadership Academy nurtures the company’s future leaders; the Data Science Academy caters to tech-savvy employees, One Medicine provides specialized knowledge for healthcare professionals, and so on.

Rosa Rueda Rojas
Rosa Rueda Rojas,
Commercial Operations Manager for Ecuador and Peru, based in Quito

“There are courses for all levels, accessible anytime and anywhere. Set a learning goal, schedule it and progress your career.”

Rosa Rueda Rojas, a native of Venezuela, has spent two decades-plus at Boehringer Ingelheim in postings all across Latin America. Now the Commercial Operations Manager for Ecuador and Peru based in the Quito office, she recommends new users start out watching a quick video called “Growth Mindset: The Truth About Your Brain,” which helps people get in the right frame of mind to really think about how to think approach learning.

The portal includes social media features, such as surfacing the most popular courses of the moment and who you may know that has taken them. There are very involved and technical courses where you probably would want to take notes and bite-sized training tips you can click and read for a minute or two.

“The platform’s flexibility fits my schedule, making learning stress-free.”

Dr. Tiziana Testa
Dr. Tiziana Testa,
a product specialist in rare diseases involving the lungs, based in Milan

Dr. Tiziana Testa, a product specialist in rare diseases involving the lungs has worked across a range of product categories for 21 years at Boehringer Ingelheim. She switched in 2020 to specialize in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) a rare disease shrouded in mystery for which there are no absolute cures, only treatments to slow its progress, to help lungs function better and to improve patient life.

As employees set up their profiles, they can select their strengths and areas they wish to develop. The site encourages employees to return regularly and graze, using personalized recommendations, based on their expressed interests and career goals. “I recommend the daily suggestions for a personalized journey,” Testa says.

Verena Ehrhart
Verena Ehrhart,
Culture and Scientific Engagement Manager at Boehringer Ingelheim

“It offers a wide selection of training opportunities, even if you only have a few minutes to seek impulses.”

Verena Ehrhart started her career at Boehringer 15 years ago with an apprenticeship and has held various management assistant positions over the years. After earning a bachelor's degree in business psychology alongside her job, she now works as Culture and Scientific Engagement Manager – while still pursuing her master’s degree. In her role she fosters Boehringer’s scientific excellence and academic outreach within the development organization in Biberach, Southern Germany.

With regard to the University, Verena appreciates the range of content in various formats to also fit in busy schedules: “It offers a wide selection of training opportunities, even if you only have a few minutes to seek impulses.”

Boehringer University surfaces lots of short articles and videos on relevant topics and career skills that allow employees to “snack” throughout their work day rather than needing to schedule time for full-course meals. It’s the opposite of the rigid old learning portal with lots and lots of meaty, hour-long formal courses.

“I’m looking to learn skills to make me more well-rounded as well as to take courses outside of my normal work.”

Dr. Tiziana Testa
Alexa Fensantos,
Regulatory Affairs Specialist, based in Makati City, Philippines

“It allows us to have easy access to taking courses and various forms of learning content –that can help us in our growth and development, not just within the organization but also in our everyday life,” says Alexa Fensantos, who is Regulatory Affairs Specialist for Boehringer Ingelheim in Manila, Philippines and a licensed pharmacist.

Having joined Boehringer three years ago, Fensantos specializes in regulatory site transfer approvals, the lifecycle management of cardiovascular, respiratory, speciality and other established products, and providing support for clinical trial requirements. She likes how the portal acts as a hub for all the company’s internal and external learning and training resources.

It’s not just for formal courses that require note-taking, but also the place to read up on short-form topics or listen to podcasts while commuting or travelling for work.

In addition, employees can follow other people in the company to understand what kinds of skills they have that may also help them to succeed. It’s a way to let individuals decide how they might model their own success.

Owen Lewis, Global Senior Manager of Boehringer Ingelheim University, reiterates how important continuous learning has become in the face of rapid changes in the job market and the endless race to attract and keep talent.

"The landscape around us is constantly changing, particularly in healthcare and in technology. To remain competitive, we need to continuously upskill and develop ourselves, to be able to stay on top of that rate of change that’s happening outside."

Boehringer Ingelheim University is not just shaping the culture of learning at Boehringer Ingelheim; it is shaping the future of the organization itself.

“The landscape around us is constantly changing, particularly in healthcare and in technology. To remain competitive, we need to constantly upskill ourselves, develop ourselves, to stay on top of that rate of change that’s happening outside.”

Owen Lewis, Global Global Senior Manager of Boehringer Ingelheim University

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