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Winning the War on Retaining Brain Power Print
How Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Retains and Trains their Project Managers as PMP's {mosadsense4joomla ad_layout="A"ad_align=""}The head of technical training for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Information Systems was faced with a dilemma.
How could they retain their BEST AND BRIGHEST project managers, offer them targeted training programs while not pulling them away from their jobs and most importantly, how would they find the money to pay for it?
As if that weren't enough, she also had to keep her CIO happy!


Like most IS departments Wyeth is battling a constant "Brain War" on how can we retain the best and the brightest? Located in the bucolic Philadelphia suburbs, Wyeth has stiff competition from the likes of such companies as Vanguard, Comcast, Siemens Medical, Glaxo-Smith-Kline and others all within a 5-mile radius, all looking for solid IS professionals. Getting them to join your team is one issue - finding ways to make them stay is another.

The CIO, Bruce Fadam, is a strong believer in obtaining the best talent available for the job. Part of that belief is in developing this talent, another priority for both Wyeth and the individuals within the department.

Employees at Wyeth were continuously requesting Project Management training through Wyeth, especially for Project Management Professional Certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI®), an industry leader in project management.
But in order to achieve such certification, an individual needs years of project management experience, have completed 36 hours of classroom training and must pass a rigorous 200-question four-hour exam.

With a full time job, a family and a life, who has the time?

A unique solution was needed. Michele Rudzik, Associate Head of IS Development at Wyeth, spoke to one of her Project Management training consultants, Tom Mattus, about this increasing business problem. They needed to find a way to tackle the real life issues of no time at work for training and no real budget to develop professional project managers.

Several local universities had solutions, offering PMP® preparation training that started at 7:00 pm in the evening and went on for 14 to 16 weeks all at their campuses.
The focus was strictly academic with no guarantees you would pass the exam.
The university solution did hold some merit in that payment could be handled through a Tuition Reimbursement Program, which was run by Corporate HR hitting individual department budgets.

However the class schedule was simply too late.
Most IS employees arrive at their cubes between 7 and 7:30 everyday and work until at least 5:30 or later. Wyeth staff member Margo Joe raised the question,
"What if the classes could be offered earlier and with no travel time involved?"

A Corporate Heroine comes to the Rescue

This got Michele thinking, "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 weeks of work and spend hours car commuting.
Michele came up with the idea of offering the programs on-site at Wyeth, but would Tom Mattus be able to work around their schedule? Everyone agreed that if people came in at 7:30 am it would be possible to offer a 2-day a week (Tuesday and Wednesday evening) 6-week on-site course on PMP® training in a Wyeth training room.

ELearning: another part of the Solution

Offering an e-learning course would also cut down on classroom time for the busy IS professional. So the vendor came up with an 8 hour, 4 module e-learning solution that people would take as an introduction to the program. With these options in place, the timing issue seemed to work.

Another issue was "Is the vendor affiliated with a major university so tuition reimbursement would work?" Since the vendor was an official educational provider for PMI, this hurdle was overcome, as participants could also receive certification from a major university.

The biggest problem was, of course, payment. Tuition reimbursement needed to have evidence that students completed the program, as did the vendor. They did not want to wait until a 6-week period was over to receive compensation.

Give and Take: The Compromise

The solution was as usual a compromise on both sides. Once the students completed the 4 Basic Project Management WEB courses they would receive a certificate of completion for that part of the program. Upon completing the entire preparation program and taking an online practice PMP® Exam, the vendor would supply them with a 2nd and final certificate stating they had completed the necessary course work needed for taking the PMP® Exam.
With both certificates in hand, Wyeth employees could present them to tuition reimbursement for the funds to pay the vendor. The PM vendor would then receive 50% of the tuition in the middle of the program and the other 50% after the program was completed. Since the reimbursement was given to the participant, NOT the vendor, a contract was created between the vendor and each employee guaranteeing payment. That meant offering a credit card number, which would be held and used only if payment was not received.

The cost of the PMP® Exam seemed to raise another issues. The cost was $550 and was not reimbursable under company policy. Michele suggested the vendor include this in the cost of the tuition, so students could receive their pass to take the exam with no hassles or issues. Another hurdle was overcome.

Lunch & Learn - Publicity

In order to publize this unique offering to the entire organization, Michele had her staff along with the vendor conduct a series of "Lunch & Learn" sessions to inform IS professionals of this unique offering. The two sessions offered were standing room only as over 100 people attended the 1-hour event. Due to high demand, classes had to be filled via a lottery e-mail system, with the people who signed up for the Lunch & Learn first being given preference.

Making the Big Guy Happy-Everybody Wins

At the graduation for the first PMP® class, Bruce Fadam congratulated the graduates for their hard work in taking the courses at night and practicing for the PMP® exam on weekends and evenings.

Wyeth did everything possible to offer their employees the most convenient and cost effective project management training they could, and they succeeded. The challenge of keeping "the Best Brains" was accomplished with this unique partnership of Wyeth IS training, Wyeth Tuition Reimbursement, the vendor and a little give and take.

For more information on this unique program contact:

Tom Mattus
Successful Strategies International, Inc.
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

2004 © Tom Mattus. Successful Strategies International, Inc. All rights reserved.

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