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ASAP Summit Spotlight Leadership Forum Highlights Exceptional Contributions: Part 1—Inspiring a Movement for Change Within Your Company

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Every day, alliance managers work diligently to advance concepts, innovations, or products for the marketplace: self-driving cars to reduce road hazards and deaths; new drugs to promote healing and lessen suffering; technological breakthroughs to minimize energy use and reduce global warming. ASAP believes these managers deserve to be highlighted for their remarkable accomplishments, which is why the association held a Summit Spotlight Leadership Forum Q&A Panel session last March at the 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Part­nering Enterprise,” Feb. 28-March 2, held in San Diego, San Diego, Calif. The session was moderated by John W. DeWitt, CEO of JW DeWitt Business Communications and publisher and editor of ASAP Media and Strategic Alliance Magazine. Highlighted on the podium for their exceptional company contributions were Celine Schillinger of Sanofi Pasteur; Chris Haskell of Bayer; Maria Olson of NetApp; and Kevin Hickey of BeyondTrust. In Part 1 of this three part series, DeWitt directs the first question to Schillinger, who spearheaded a movement at Sanofi Pasteur that led to cultural changes and a progressive alliance with The Synergist. The win-win partnership also led to receipt of the ASAP Alliances for Social Responsibility Alliance Excellence Award for “Break Dengue.”

Celine, how did you get the inspiration to drive a people’s movement within your company?

Celine: It started with feelings we often don’t talk about in the workplace, such as anger and frustration. That can serve as an impulse to push you to the next level. It can serve to push and challenge the status quo. The first people’s movement started by chance—it was to foster diversity. I had such wonderful talented people around me, and that lack of diversity was affecting the people and the company itself. I thought, “I have got to do something, even if it’s just a small step. If I just complain, it will not go anywhere.” I realized I catalyzed something that no one was addressing. It came as a big surprise—I never thought something like that would happen. It changed my life and career, and I am very grateful for the company that enabled me to do that. It wasn’t easy for them or for me. I know I’ve been a pain in the neck—sometimes we are human, we don’t like to change things that seem to be working. But it’s our role to push and to trigger change. If we don’t do it, no one will do it.

How did you get executive buy in?

Celine: It doesn’t happen overnight, for sure. You have got to focus on your purpose and the ways to reach your purpose. When you start, you don’t have a budget or department, but connections have a value. Look where there are pockets of energy, and have deep conversations about your purpose. If you have deep connections that build up, you become a force. Mastering communications in your marketing will make you unavoidable to leadership. We also did things under the radar. Seek validation. Build connections. The company then will begin to see you as an opportunity. The first reaction was mockery about our being a feminist group. But when we got an award for the company, and then another, they realized we were an opportunity for them to shine. We said: “Welcome. We will be much stronger with you.” And don’t forget to work on yourself.  Be inclusive, be inclusive all the time.

Chris: Your point about having a vision [is valuable]—you can then tailor it to your customer. The [vision] incubator is also a response to frustration. In our case, we went from project manager to partnering. It was so frustrating because the home office couldn’t see the value. We tried to show them that this [vision] they didn’t act on can become valuable. That’s exactly what they don’t want to hear. So you need to create a model with autonomy and control. Create buy in for management in this case so they can see the long-term vision. A CEO at the time gave official buy in. He said, “I don’t know what will come of this. Just don’t hurt the little companies.” I will close with the fact that we had a value proposal that was a four-year plan that highlighted to the community that didn’t know us that we were of value. What we found is that the opposition eventually came back with opportunities to expand this.

Maria: You have to be connected and passionate for your cause. Executives need to know how you believe. Then you have to show them how to get there. That’s when they get confident. If you really want to do a big partnership or alliance, you need to believe in it because, if you don’t, no one else will.

ASAP Media’s coverage of the Summit Spotlight Leadership Forum Q&A continues in Part 2. 

Tags:  alliance  alliance managers  Bayer  Celine Schillinger  Chris Haskell  communications  Maria Olson  NetApp  partnering  partnership  Sanofi Pasteur  win-win partnerships 

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