“By multiplying these talented employees with a different mindset across the world, we are seeing grassroots cultural change. Merck is like so many other large companies, steeped in tradition and with a tendency to look back to a successful past to dictate the future. As the world changes, we need different behaviors and I see the GMAP alumni challenging the status quo with confidence, fortitude and an energy we didn’t have before.” — Tracey Franklin, VP Chief HR Talent and Strategy Officer at Merck

Merck placed a long-term bet: a robust and sustained effort to develop leaders for the future who can break down silos and push the organization forward. David Howe, now executive director, leadership and global function learning, explains: “We had leaders who were excellent in their function, or their country, but this isn’t how we compete and win in the market. We decided to take individual contributors who are early in their career at Merck and give them breadth, to develop the leaders we wanted for the future: agile, able to identify opportunities through new technologies and partnerships, and able to pivot.”

Participants get real experiences and own their business outcomes in Merck’s GMAP Program. In their first year, they take a job outside their function. In the following year, they undertake a second rotation, moving outside their country and into a third function.

“Twice now I have run off-sites for our top 200 to work through strategic issues and then repeated the exercise with GMAP alumni, who have really innovative ideas,” said Franklin. “I feed these ideas back to our senior executives, so that we can incorporate them and use the collective thought power of this group to help shape the future of our company.”

GMAP alumni continue to ‘pay it forward’. They have been involved in multiple strategic initiatives, reinforcing new ways of working.

Read more in the Dialogue story.