Engage Case Study Novartis

engage case study novartis

Company profile

Novartis is a top 5 Global Healthcare and Pharmaceutical company specialising in a broad spectrum of hospital and primary care products. These include Oncology, cardiovascular and respiratory.

The company had annual net sales Globally of USD 2.2 billion in 2013.  With over 90 operating companies worldwide, the company’s fastest growing markets include China, Brazil, Turkey and Russia. Focus for growth is prioritised in these emerging markets.


The Company’s Chinese affiliate is growing at approximately 18% per annum. The average growth of traditional markets, (e.g. UK, Germany, USA) is around 1-2%.

The Chinese affiliate had re-organised their business units to create alignment of the marketing and medical functions within each therapeutic area. Subsequently, each business unit was now co-lead by a Medical Leader and a Marketing Leader. These leads had been operating in the new organisation structure for approximately 3 months before any intervention was considered.

During those three months it became clear to the Senior Executive Leaders within the organisation that the co-lead model was not functioning effectively. There was a resultant lack of clarity and objectives provided to the cross functional teams that the co-leads led. Communication upwards to the Senior Executive board was also limited and unclear.

The Chinese affiliate made a decision to develop an intensive Leaders development programme for the Co-leads. This aim would be to assess and improve leadership skills. The intervention was to include a leader’s self-assessment followed by face to face development workshops and one on one coaching sessions.

Rationale for using ENGAGE

The company decided to utilise the Engage self-assessment on-line model as an audit for co-leads. Why? To develop greater self-awareness and enable a personal evaluation of their leadership style, communication with colleagues and commitment to the team. It was intended that the results of the self-assessment would be utilised in two ways:

  • To help each Leader see how their own assessments were affecting their success as Leaders
  • To share combined results and differences of both co-leads, to help them evaluate how they could work more successfully together in the future

The company was aware that this was a unique opportunity to use a self-awareness tool in a cultural environment that often discourages self-reflection.

They were interested to observe how open the co-leaders would be in sharing their individual results with each other, especially considering the relatively short period of time they had been working together.

The Engage tool was seen as a novel way to break down barriers within this cultural context. The initial cohort of co-leads was 20, with an even division between Medical and Marketing Leaders. All of whom were Chinese Local Leaders.

The co-leaders were asked to complete the Engage assessment 3 weeks in advance of the face to face learning programme. Eighteen of the twenty completed the online assessment. This was considered a high success rate of completion, especially considering the assessment was in English and all the participants were Chinese, with Mandarin as their first language.


The initial response to Engage was positive. During the workshop participants reported the results helped them both personally and with their co-leads. It helped them by enabling them to understand their underlying beliefs about their leadership style and communication.

They were fully committed to working on their learning and actions. They wanted to support each other to strengthen areas of development and leverage each other’s strengths to become more effective leaders.

After two months the group revisited their learning and felt they were providing a more aligned and clearer leadership approach as a result of using the ENGAGE model.

180 degree feedback from both their direct line cross- functional teams indicated that the co-leads had improved in providing clearer cross functional team and individual objectives.

The Senior Executive leaders also reported a clearer set of strategic objectives being set by the co-leads and clearer communication for the business units in general.