March 18, 2022

How virtualising Leadership development accelerated expansion of market access for a global pharmaceutical company

LIW worked with a global pharmaceutical company with a mission to reshape the culture of leadership within the organisation and a strategic priority to expand market access to medicines.



The background

LIW partnered to create a flagship leadership development programme for senior leaders who were in or about to take on important global roles. At its heart, the programme was designed to support participants in developing a global mindset, one that enables them to empathise, adapt and influence across a diverse range of cultures and situations to improve and extend people’s lives. This was key to achieving the organisation’s cultural aspiration that will accelerate the delivery of its strategic goals.

But, then the COVID-19 pandemic struck and upended learning & development (L&D) programmes across the world.


The challenge

In 2019, Global Leadership Development Manager at the pharma company, was tasked with transforming the programme, to extend its impact and alignment to the strategic priorities in a 100% virtual environment.

LIW partnered with the team using agile principles to reimagine the programme, recognising the opportunity to innovate and evolve the programme.

“While it would have been easy to just cancel the programme, we found purpose, inspiration and creativity in our shared vision to continue to help our leaders lead and grow at a time when it was more needed than ever before.”


Global Leadership Development Manager and Client Programme Lead


The solution

Whilst many of the elements of the programme were already virtual, the programme had two key week-long, face-to-face immersions as part of its structure. The partnership challenged itself to answer the fundamental question ‘how do we build engagement and connection and drive results in a totally virtual environment where participants are expecting to be together, in-person?

We realised that part of the solution was replicating a format that achieves great engagement virtually – radio. The FM radio show was born taking learnings from radio formats to create a highly engaging and interactive approach to delivering leadership development. Each episode of FM was designed to align to a key learning topic incorporating LIW’s proven four-stage learning approach of: Discovery, Understanding, Application and Reinforcement. With a series of “features” every episode provided a mix of interviews, SME perspectives, and opportunities for listeners to play an active role in discussions through “phone ins” or posting comments through the chat functionality.

See how our FM solution works in this video

The first immersion worked incredibly well with participants engaging, participating and above all learning new things to support the development of their leadership.

The second week-long immersion presented an even greater challenge to take from face-to-face to virtual, as participants spend time working with a community in a developing country, using the skills they have developed to tackle a particular challenge around market access.

The additional complexity in finding a solution came mainly from the number and diversity of stakeholders involved, with varying needs and levels of commitment, as well as access and comfort working with virtual technology.

We identified the key stakeholders including doctors, community health workers, patients, and employees to provide insights about both the situation and the disease, and worked with them to contribute to Podcasts, as well as joining live discussions with participants through the FM radio shows.

By introducing innovations such as a radio show format and Podcasts, the partnership created a solution that beat all our expectations. This enabled the participants to make real connections with the teams and key stakeholders to truly immerse themselves in their world and learn about the real challenges of these communities.


The results

Participants were able to use their new Leadership skills, learnings about the community and a specific disease, as well as design thinking principles to present impactful solutions to improve market access:

Several of these solutions have now been adopted by the business and are receiving support from the Global Health Leadership Team.

The learnings from the changes made to the programme have been adopted across the business in a range of other initiatives and are already supporting communities to achieve better access to the medicines they desperately need.

“Having the participants work on improving market access for a specific disease has helped the organisation to reinforce not only our commitment, but also the ethics and intention that drives our behaviour and the passion for a better, more equitable world. Through the design thinking process, we have a clearer understanding of the real unmet needs and where we could make a difference.”


Global Business Director



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