Developing Leaders Poised to Succeed in the Face of Change and Complexity

Developing Leaders Poised to Succeed in the Face of Change and Complexity
CLIENT:Boehringer Ingelheim, a family-owned German pharmaceutical company founded in 1885
LOCATION:Presence across 55 countries
SIZE:42,000+ employees

Client Profile & Challenge

Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) is one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies. Though the company has enjoyed great success, its industry is facing significant change and complexity — from growing regulatory pressures to razor-sharp competition.

BI wanted its leaders to become more results-oriented and more aware of the external environment impacting the company’s operations. It also wanted to cultivate stronger decision-making and strategic-thinking skills, as well as the ability to inspire and lead others in support of a shared vision, strategy, and business goals.

The company wanted a highly interactive and practical solution that would prepare BI leaders for marketplace challenges — not an impersonal or cookie-cutter program. BI also sought a partner it could collaborate with to design the program, update it over time, and pioneer new ideas.

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceutical Leaders Talent Development - Center for Creative Leadership Case Study


We developed a multi-phase leadership development initiative focused on key competencies critical to BI’s future growth. The initiative included 2 separate, but aligned, programs: the Management Development Program for first-level managers and a Leadership Development Program for high-potential middle-level leaders.

Participants completed a number of 360-degree assessments to identify strengths they can leverage and competency gaps they need to close.

The programs blend several interactive learning strategies and delivery approaches, including experiential activities, simulations, and stimulating classroom dialogue.

Participants engage in the following ways:

  • 3 multi-day group training sessions,
  • Monthly meetings with their managers to discuss progress and development,
  • Use of an online tool provided by CCL to track progress toward specific goals,
  • One-on-one work with a CCL executive coach, and
  • Participation in a peer-learning group project.

CCL and BI have also piloted several “next practices,” including meditation, sessions on the neuroscience of leadership, and an “adult time out” game room to boost resiliency and sustainability.

The initiative was first rolled out to BI’s U.S. businesses, but it has since been expanded to Canada, Mexico, and a number of Latin American countries.


Upon implementation, the program earned a Brandon Hall Group Silver Award for excellence in leadership development. The initiative has significantly expanded BI’s leadership pipeline, bolstered leadership effectiveness, and helped create a flexible and mobile network of employees globally.

In addition to strong leadership skills, alumni of the leadership development initiative have signaled greater satisfaction with opportunities to advance and with the company environment – key factors in retaining top talent.


  • Skills learned in the training experience informed an improvement program that resulted in one-year savings of $1,800,000;
  • A program graduate led a project team that reduced its costs by more than 80%; and
  • A program graduate led a turnaround that resulted in a $2,000,000 to $3,000,000 improvement in financial performance.
of participants reported increased ability to handle challenges.
of participants reported improved ability to lead change.
of participants reported improvement in working across boundaries

Participants Say

“As the pharmaceutical industry becomes increasingly competitive, even small differences in leadership competency and technical expertise can lead to highly differentiated outcomes in the marketplace. It is imperative that we accelerate the development of managers and better prepare them for senior leadership roles.”

Sissy McKee

Leadership Program Director
Boehringer Ingelheim

“The program has sharpened my skills to work with my foreign counterparts in a way that we can openly discuss topics in a safe environment, respecting our differences, and yet come to agreements in order to move the organization in an efficient and effective way.”

“As a result of the (program) and my ability to foster alignment among the senior team, we are more clearly addressing key issues head-on, such as pricing, promotional strategy and planning, and strategic customer focus. This allows us to quickly resolve issues and address opportunities with a focus on issues, not people or personalities.”

Partner With Us

Our expertise in the pharmaceutical industry runs deep. We can work with you to develop leaders and retain top talent, connecting your organization’s goals to a solution that will drive impact for leaders at all levels.

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