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Diversity, Partnerships & Virtual Connections

By March 5, 2023LTEN Focus On Training

Questions or comments can be submitted to


Welcome to “Ask LTEN,” the second in our bimonthly series of columns devoted to answering your questions and connecting you with experts.

Below you’ll find some questions submitted by LTEN members, along with some answers we’ve sourced from the appropriate experts. We hope you find this information useful.

Do you have a training-related question? Want to provide an additional answer to these questions? Questions or comments can be submitted to  We won’t use your name if you prefer anonymity.


I’m curious about incorporating diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) in online training. For example, how we can ensure success for colleagues with conditions like dyslexia (which we might not know about)? I’d love to know how a major player in life sciences addresses this.


Great and timely question. Since different organizations handle things differently, we asked a few of our friends to address this important topic. Feel free to share how your organization is handling DEI with us at

Here’s what Mani Chidambaram, head of commercial development and learning, US General Medicines for Sanofi and a member of the LTEN Advisory Council, had to say:

“Interesting question. Though both the DEI and digital initiatives have been leading the way here at Sanofi for the past three years, there has been little conscious discussion of the combined DEI topic. I can tell you that as our omnichannel initiatives have now been rapidly rolling out for over two years, all of our learning objects do have a multi-faceted design approach, which takes the DEI issues you mentioned into account.

“As an example, if it’s a video, there is usually a printable transcript a click away. If it’s an interactive learning tool, there is some type of ‘summary’ PDF or similar object available as an option.
“Though specific learning disabilities were not factored into these designs, through the use of at least two delivery modalities per object, we have been able to satisfy the issue you speak about.”

Here’s what Carol Wells, executive director, CMG training & development for Genentech and a member of the LTEN Board of Directors, had to say:

“At Genentech, we launched an approach in 2020 that we call our ‘Learner Promise,’ where we proactively share on all materials that we recognize different learning needs and strive to meet the learner in a way that works best for them. If people need information in another way, we encourage them to let us know, so that we can make that shift.”

Here’s what Jenn Muszik, head of worldwide field learning for Biogen and a member of the LTEN Board of Directors shared:

“Thank you for the question. We strive to make the learning environment an inclusive one for all colleagues, including:

  • “Providing elearning content that supports colleagues’ learning styles –recorded presentations with visual slides that can be downloaded and used for note-taking.
  • “For virtual sessions, ensuring our trainers share the updated options on Microsoft Teams, including the use of closed captioning.
  • “To make elearnings more relatable across affiliates, we have recently piloted a technology from Synthesia that allows us to choose an avatar that resembles the audience. We can also choose voices of various dialects and pacing, too.

“Please share your thoughts and recommendations to help all of us make our learning environments the best for all colleagues.”


I am new to my training role and struggling with the training supplier partner I am aligned to for several tactics. I am spending more time managing them than the project itself. Please help!


We asked Jill Benko director, multi-brand lead commercial training and development for BioMarin Pharmaceutical and a member of the LTEN Advisory Council, to respond:

“This can truly be a frustration and can cause a huge loss of your productivity due to your time commitment. In the same way you would want to have a frank conversation with a colleague that is challenging to deal with, you definitely want todo the same in this situation. Some may feel this is purely an example of ‘well, the customer is always right.’ This is usually more the case than not, but the relationship between training and suppliers has to be a partnership to be successful.

“Here are a few tips I would consider trying:

“Ask yourself: ‘Have I laid out clear expectations to the supplier team?’” In other words, have they provided a very clear outline for timing of deliverables, do they fully know the internal processes for the review committee, or have I communicated that the timelines for my project or scope have changed and the impact it may have downstream?

“Once you answer some of these questions, schedule a meeting with your account director or project manager to discuss your concerns and issues. Be very clear and direct, and provide specific examples. Align on what each side will agree to do differently moving forward and be prepared to offer solutions. For example, each week you will receive a summary of the week’s activities, an additional check point call or schedule a meeting to specifically discuss a review of the internal review process.

“The most important point is to address the issue(s) head-on so you will have a more productive partnership moving forward and get more time back.

“Remember clear is kind and feedback is a gift!”


We are moving a lot of our new hire training to virtual instructor-led training (VILT) sessions. We are receiving feedback that the participants are “missing out” on networking opportunities that are often part of a live environment. Any suggestions?


For this question, we turned to Julia Taylor, associate director of commercial coaching excellence for Horizon Therapeutics and a member of the LTEN Advisory Council:

“Consider having short (20- to 30-minute), optional “Get to Know (Person)”sessions planned throughout a VILT learning journey. Have some fun and ask the participants who or what areas of the organization they would enjoy hearing from the most.

“Networking sessions could be planned outside of the days or weeks where VILTs are taking place to allow for increased engagement.”

Any Others?

Do you have any questions the LTEN community can help with? Send them to and we’ll find some thought leaders to share.

Tim Sosbe is editorial director for LTEN. Email Tim at



About LTEN

The Life Sciences Trainers & Educators Network ( is the only global 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization specializing in meeting the needs of life sciences learning professionals. LTEN shares the knowledge of industry leaders, provides insight into new technologies, offers innovative solutions and communities of practice that grow careers and organizational capabilities. Founded in 1971, LTEN has grown to more than 3,200 individual members who work in pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device and diagnostic companies, and industry partners who support the life sciences training departments.

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