O’Connor, director of HR at global eye care company Bausch & Lomb, assesses
a recent pan-Europe, Middle East and Africa competency-based development
programme, on which participants form multi-national learning sets in order to
gain a broader awareness of the business context and to share best practice
between all of its subsidiaries
Providing consistent management development across geographical boundaries
is a challenge for any global organisation. Bausch & Lomb, the world’s
largest provider of eye-care products, has worked with consultants from Roffey
Park to successfully address this need.
Bausch & Lomb is a truly global organisation. With annual revenues of
about £1.4bn, we develop, manufacture and market contact lens and lens care
products, pharmaceuticals and ophthalmic surgical equipment.
We have nearly 12,000 employees and we supply products to more than 100
Founded in 1853, Bausch &Lomb has a strong tradition of innovation,
including the development of unique sunglasses for the military in the Second
World War, creating the camera lenses used to take the first satellite pictures
of the moon and introducing the first soft contact lenses.
We have identified a set of leadership and managerial competencies that will
drive future success. Having undertaken executive leadership programmes at the
senior level, we worked with Roffey Park to introduce a competency-based
development programme for middle managers.
While middle managers are critical to achieving our strategic goals, prior
to 2000, there was no co-ordinated, consistent development programme to advance
the management skills of this key group. We decided to supplement their
technical training in specific functional areas with a programme centred around
our global competency framework.
The aim was to identify middle management talent within the Europe, Middle
East and Africa (EMEA) region from all subsidiaries and provide those people
with a development programme that would allow them to nurture their skills.
I was chartered with getting the programme up and running.
I was familiar with the reputation of the consultants at Roffey Park and
together we collaborated on the development of the programme content. We
reviewed Bausch & Lomb’s strategic objectives and the business challenges
so the content could be tailored to our culture and development needs. The
Roffey Park consultants proposed a modular programme with learning sets and
together we fine tuned the content to make it a very specific programme.
With the support of the senior management team in the European region, we
felt it would provide a good opportunity for participants to learn about the
critical skills for success at Bausch & Lomb, to create a development plan
and then test their learning in a business context before returning for more
Running the programme
The result was the Bausch & Lomb European Management Development
Programme, which debuted in December 2000. It has been held every three months,
with 12 different managers attending each time.
The programme is for managers with at least two direct reports. Sometimes
they are new managers who, for the first time in their careers, have
subordinates reporting to them.
The local HR teams and the managers of our subsidiaries select the
candidates from our locations across the EMEA region.
We consciously select a good cross-section from the different countries and
functional areas so that participants can develop their own internal networks
Before starting, the participants meet with their managers to discuss and
clarify their own specific learning needs and goals. This is important to
ensure that line managers understand the programme and are able to support the
efforts of participants once they return to the workplace.
The programme has two development modules, both delivered at Roffey Park
Institute, a residential centre in West Sussex. The first module lasts three
days and covers the impact of change on people management; the role of a
manager within Bausch & Lomb; effective leadership; building managerial and
interpersonal competence; and managing diversity.
This module is always introduced by a senior leader from Bausch & Lomb,
who puts the programme into context and reinforces the strategic direction of
the business. It also includes practical exercises in which the participants
put skills into action.
As part of the first module, the participants form multi-national learning
sets – small groups of six managers from different countries who meet separately
to provide each other with challenge and support.
The sets meet twice, in different countries, after each of the two modules.
Because English is the company’s global business language, translation is not
One of the competencies within Bausch & Lomb is business acumen and part
of the way we achieve this is by bringing people together in the learning sets
to give them a better understanding of our wider business activities. They
learn about the different cultures – and the different perspectives on business
issues – in different countries and they work on projects as a multi-cultural
society, applying the tools and techniques they have learned and discussed on
To enhance the learning, the manager from the host country arranges for the
set members to tour the local facility and the local general manager usually
meets with the group to review the regional business strategy, priorities and
Working in a set provides a learning experience in addition to the programme
content. The sets give people exposure to managers from other countries and
other functions and this gives them greater awareness of our EMEA-wide
priorities. The sets have been well-received because they create informal
networks throughout the company and give people a chance to learn more about
the issues faced by other subsidiaries.
About three months after completing the first development module, the
participants regroup for module two, which lasts two days and covers strategic
thinking; time management; motivation; handling conflict; delegation; managing
from a distance and political behaviour in the workplace. The participants
review their experiences of putting their learning into practice and they
refine their personal development plans accordingly.
The programme places a strong emphasis on self analysis, feedback from
colleagues and personal development planning. The Roffey Park tutors ensure the
programme is very interactive and they respond to the specific needs of each
participant. Our people are very hands-on and response has shown that they
welcome this more flexible approach.
Meeting future challenges
Although products and times have changed, Bausch & Lomb still adheres to
the legacy of dedication to innovation, quality, and craftsmanship established
by our founders John Jacob Bausch and Henry Lomb. As we strive to help people
see, look and feel better, we will continue to innovate with technology and
The pan-EMEA development programme is creating a broad awareness of the
wider business environment in which we work. In addition to the many personal
benefits for participants, it is an opportunity for our middle managers to
share best practices across our subsidiaries and this has proved very
beneficial in helping us to meet our goal of exceeding customer expectations.
Successful transfer of learning
The programme provides great value and there are many inquiries from
managers asking to participate, which is an indicator of its popularity.
From the outset, Roffey Park consultants have been terrific to work with,
very flexible – open to new ideas and suggestions – and always putting
themselves out to ensure our needs are met. The setting is beautiful with grounds
and facilities creating a relaxed environment for learning, in which people
feel comfortable straight away.
Through the programme, the participants focus on the competencies that make
people successful within Bausch & Lomb. They gain new perspectives on the
different business issues faced by other subsidiaries in the company and they
form a strong, multi-national, personal support network across the EMEA region.
The organisation benefits from the transfer of the learning back into the local
work environment and from having talented middle managers in place who are
equipped with the competencies we need to go forward.
VALUE FOR MONEY * * * * *
ORGANISATION * * * * *
QUALITY OF EXPERIENCE * * * * *
EFFECTIVENESS OF MEETING BUSINESS NEEDS * * * * *
FUN * * * * *
VALUE OF BRINGING DIFFERENT CULTURES TOGETHER * * * * *
OVERALL RATING * * * * *