This week, the team meets the Chief Learning Officer at multinational pharma giant, Sanofi—another life sciences company whose work is driven by its purpose—“Empowering Life”—and supported by a commitment to a strong learning culture. To find out more about this approach, the team sat down with the company’s Chief Learning Officer, Celia Berenguer, who’s been leading a number of purpose-driven L&D initiatives there, including a new corporate university … which opened its virtual doors in April 2020, just as the pandemic was engulfing the world.
Both top-down and bottom-up focus on purpose
RedThread find much to praise in the work of Celia and the rest of her L&D team, while acknowledging—as Celia does so thoughtfully on the podcast—how much remains to be done. Purpose is infused within the organization, Sanofi people really believe in it, and it’s increasingly a part of how the company thinks about learning and the change journey (which is also being driven by a new CEO’s focus on purpose). We hear how L&D is becoming the source of all the support mechanisms and development tools that can bring that purpose to life for staff. Interestingly, that call from the top is fusing with what Stacia sees as a “bottom-up” commitment to purpose, too.
The shift to a more human corporate university
A key part of the conversation is the shift Celia had to lead to get Sanofi University off the ground when the 2020 health crisis erupted and triggered a rapid pivot in the company’s launch strategy—and how the originally highly-polished approach had to be replaced by a more authentic, more real, and more human orientation.
We also hear how purpose is seen as a guide to triage what needs to be done versus what the organization might like to do, as well as a lot of very advanced re-thinking on what skills and career development should be looking like right now—a result of the need, as we’ll hear, to democratize and share learning in a time of crisis.
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