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Practitioner Innovation Allergan, Sage Therapeutics, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol-Myers Squibb & United Therapeutics

By September 30, 2019April 9th, 2021LTEN Focus On Training

Practitioner Innovation Allergan, Sage Therapeutics, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol-Myers Squibb & United Therapeutics

Businesses rely on the innovative spirit of their key players, and training certainly qualifies as one of the main sources of innovative thinking. At the 5th Annual LTEN Excellence Awards, six innovative leaders were honored as finalists in the Practitioner Innovation category.

Matt Hayden, Director, Training Effectiveness – Allergan

While planning for a six-day plan of action meeting for nearly 2,500 sales representatives, the training team at Allergan was looking for a different approach beyond the traditional. They wanted to offer interaction on the virtual meeting and still have the feel of a live gathering. They selected the new Pando meeting platform.

The platform enabled Allergan to have a highly-interactive meeting, delivering content in different ways, facilitating lively discussion and testing knowledge through polling questions with real-time responses, resulting in highly-engaged and responsive sales representatives.

“Allergan overcame potential challenges by keeping both IT and long-term production partners an integral part of the process,” said Ellynn Szoke of The Inception Company, which developed Pando and nominated Allergan for the LTEN award. “The IT team ensured emails and invitations had instructions for ease of use and production partners provided a familiar bridge to the new technology that ‘presenters’ were comfortable with. Participants had to be prepared for full ‘lean-in’ engagement rather than the multitasking that traditional virtual meetings allowed.”

Leslie Mason, Director, Commercial Training – Sage Therapeutics

For its national sales meeting, Sage wanted to build upon home study training and to offer retrieval practice through spaced learning events. Working with Red Nucleus, Sage created engaging, self-directed training experiences using augmented reality (AR).

Used during two activities to share information on postpartum depression (PPD), augmented reality gave a chance to show the neuroscience behind PPD in a way that images or video could not, and also gave attendees a chance to feel like they were meeting women with PPD.

“For both teams, AR was uncharted territory. The technology had to be researched, analyzed and properly incorporated into the project,” said Ian Kelly, who as president of Red Nucleus nominated Sage for the LTEN honor. “We were able to train the newly hired field personnel in a blended and kinetic learning approach by applying this innovation. We were able to ensure that learning was pulled through and validated through not only the pre-work and, in the classroom environment but also through the teaching and videos embedded within the AR.”

Mike Paradiso, Associate Director, Clinical and Product Training – Novartis

Planning for a national sales meeting (NSM) for 1,500 sales representatives, Novartis had 12 weeks to figure out how to creatively engage learners and to virtually train 130 account business leaders. They partnered with Syneos Health and turned to creative, simulation-based learning experiences.

First up was a train-the-leader (TTL) virtual meeting designed to emulate the national sales meeting setting. A studio broadcast featured 40 talent and crew members and four sets for brand, market access, skills and workshop deployment. The same engaging environment was created for the national meeting, using game boards, interactive simulations and competitions that supported an energizing training environment.

“Timing was a challenge so there was a team designated for the TTL to work with our producer on the technical and creative, while the original project team focused on the live NSM,” said Celeste Mosby, vice president of Syneos Health, which nominated Novartis for the award. “With technical minds and creative thinking, we pulled off a seamlessly presented event.”

Christine Sadowski, Director, Biologics Sales & Marketing Excellence – GlaxoSmithKline

GSK needed a way to test and measure the effectiveness of the training their respiratory biologics professionals received for the roll out of a new eSales aid. The Sales & Marketing Excellence Team (SMx) created a training plan to reinforce both scientific knowledge as well as test the pull-through of the sales training material into actionable behavior. The team utilized the functionality of the new technology platform, myNUCALA, to be able to watch how each sales professional used the e-sales aid in a mock sales call.

“We created a ‘Show What You Know’ program that allowed sales professionals to practice a typical sales call by videoing themselves in the platform, to receive direct feedback from leadership and to learn from their peers’ user-generated content,” said Leslie Troxell with Unboxed Technology, which partnered with GSK and nominated the program for the LTEN honor. “This program built learner confidence, measured strategy pull-through and provided real-time learning for everyone involved.”

The results were impressive. More than 95 percent of the sales team submitted videos and nearly 1,000 videos have been uploaded, reviewed and critiqued through myNUCALA.

Shawn Thomas, Director of Technology Training Solutions – Bristol-Myers Squibb

Facing the need to convert all technical reference materials into a digital, e-book format, BMS partnered with Eagle Productivity for design and development and TransPerfect for translation work and leveraged the Inkling platform.

“This partnership has enabled Bristol-Myers Squibb to broadly deliver, seamlessly update and track usage of digitized reference material,” said Shawn Thomas, director of technology training solutions for BMS. “This material was designed to be easily accessed, searchable and digested, versatile and interactive, while ensuring all content aligns to a consistent user experience for all stakeholders globally.”

Facing challenges including version control, timeliness, translation, and distribution, the new format challenged the one-dimensional nature of reference material to provide a multi-modal learner experience.

The platform and content are evaluated in a variety of ways, both formally and informally, including built-in analytics, document usage monitoring, time spent on pages and sections, frequency of Help Desk visits and page visits by therapeutic area. Among the benefits are material cost savings estimated to be at least $200,000 per

Kristi Vredenburg, Corporate Sales Trainer – United Therapeutics

Finding fun, engaging and unique ways to train sales representatives on a new digital sales tool and how to use it with customers is a challenge that many training organizations face. With a sales meeting approaching, United Therapeutics wanted to take a somewhat mundane task and find a way to really engage the sales representatives, have fun while doing it and have them walk away ready to use the new tool effectively and confidently with customers.

United Therapeutics partnered with Bull City Blue to design live training in an engaging, self-paced format. The result was a self-guided “art gallery” experience with 14 exhibits, each including banners, visuals, input from experts, hands-on practice via iPads and learning journals to track progress.

“We needed to ensure that the training provided enough structure and tools for learners to guide their own learning experience,” said Sue Iannone, vice president of Bull City Blue. “We created a brief introduction video orienting learners to the gallery and learning tools available and encouraging learners to work at their own pace.”




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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