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Wyeth Pharmaceuticals: Retaining Brain Power
Like many technology departments, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals’ information systems team battles constantly for talent. Convenient and cost-effective project management training help Wyeth keep its best and brightest.
Like many information systems (IS) departments, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals is battling to recruit and retain the best and brightest employees. Located in the bucolic Philadelphia suburbs, Wyeth faces stiff competition from companies such as Vanguard, Comcast, Siemens Medical and GlaxoSmithKline. All of these companies are within a five-mile radius, and are all seeking solid IS professionals. Recruiting these professionals to join your team is one issue—finding ways to make them stay is another.
Wyeth was faced with a complex dilemma: How could the company retain its best project managers and offer targeted training programs (while not pulling employees away from their jobs), and, most importantly, how would Wyeth find the money to pay for it?
Wyeth CIO Bruce Fadam believes in obtaining the best talent available for the job. That belief makes it a priority to further develop this talent. Employees at Wyeth were requesting project management training, especially Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI). In order to achieve such certification, an individual requires years of project management experience, 36 hours of classroom training and a passing grade on a rigorous 200-question, four-hour exam. For employees with full-time jobs and family obligations, spare time was not in abundance. A unique solution was needed.
Michele Rudzik, associate head of IS development at Wyeth, spoke to her project management training consultants about this increasing business problem. They needed to find a way to tackle real-life issues of sparse time and budgets, and still develop professional project managers. Several local universities offered 14- to 16-week-long PMP preparation training that started at 7 p.m. The focus was strictly academic, with no guarantees of passing the exam. The university option held merit because payment could be handled through a Wyeth tuition reimbursement program, therefore hitting individual department budgets.
However, the class schedule was simply too late. Most IS employees already report to work between 7 and 7:30 a.m. and stay until 5:30 p.m. or later. Wyeth staff member Margo Joe questioned if the classes could be offered earlier and with no travel time involved. If tuition reimbursement works for colleges, why not for an on-site program that has college affiliation? On-site programs would eliminate the need to have people miss work and spend time commuting. Rudzik developed the idea of offering the programs on-site at Wyeth, and hoped the company would be able to work around their schedule. Finally, it was established that if people arrived at work by 7:30 a.m., it would be possible to offer a two-day-per-week, six-week on-site course on PMP training.
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