Global Citizenship

Creating a Culture of Citizenship > Our Workplace Employee Learning and Development


In 2011, Abbott in India celebrated International Women’s Day with lectures, training classes and team-building events designed to recognize and reward the unique contributions of female employees.

Approximately 70,000 employees worldwide have access to job-specific training and development to ensure successful performance in their current roles across the full range of Abbott jobs – from commercial and operations to research and development, as well as human resources, finance and information technology. We also conduct ongoing learning, training and career development programs to help employees at all levels realize their potential. Abbott connects people and potential by developing current and future leaders through a robust combination of training, on-the-job experiences and formal and informal mentoring. More than 59,000 employees in professional, leadership and functional roles participated in our learning and development programs in 2012.

Cross-Cultural Training

Because the scope of our business is global, many of our employees work or travel outside their home countries – and cross-cultural competency is a key business need. Accordingly, Abbott provides all employees with free access to Cultural Navigator™, an Internet-based toolkit containing more than 100 country-specific modules with extensive information on local business practices, management tools, social etiquette and customs.

The Cultural Navigator tool also encourages employees to fill out a self-assessment that yields a personal cultural profile. This profile enables users to gauge their own business practices, management approach and behavioral styles so that they can compare their personal preferences and habits with standard practices in other cultures. Additionally, Cultural Navigator users can run business simulation exercises to identify potential cross-cultural stumbling blocks and prepare themselves for potential challenges in their future business activities. Nearly 2,000 employees actively used this tool in 2012.

Leadership Training

To complement these skills training initiatives, we also offer focused training programs for employees transitioning into management roles – to help our new leaders around the world succeed more quickly in their expanded positions.

For example, the Abbott Management Fundamentals program offers an extensive curriculum to help managers lead their teams more effectively, create a strong work environment and empower their teams to deliver results. Additionally, the Director Foundation Program provides management training for newly hired or promoted director-level employees. Launched approximately five years ago, the Director Foundation Program helps build capabilities in strategic thinking, influencing, coaching and feedback, along with a high-level discussion on Abbott strategy. The program also stresses the key role that directors should play in sustaining our success by cultivating a talent pipeline.

Similarly, the Global Leadership Program (GLP) is designed to help new and potential General Managers (GMs) in our international affiliates become more effective by better understanding and leveraging the Abbott resources available to them. The program consists of two one-week sessions that take place approximately six months apart. The first week includes presentations on corporate strategy from Abbott senior executives, along with case studies on GM-level decision making. The second week focuses on people leadership – helping new GMs better understand what it takes to grow a business within Abbott, while also developing the talent of the people on their teams.

The GLP not only has helped us to bring new GMs on board faster and more effectively, but also has resulted in the creation of strong global networks of GLP alumni. GLP graduates routinely reach out and connect with their former classmates to share ideas, gain insights and explore new ideas. By including promising GM candidates in the GLP training, Abbott can make sure those candidates are well prepared to assume the responsibilities of the GM role when a suitable position becomes available. Additionally, the strong alumni connections enable deep trust and shared organizational understanding at some of the highest levels of management in our company.

Building on the success of GLP and other programs targeting key talent, we continue to expand our learning and development programs deeper into our talent pipeline to accelerate the readiness of more junior managers. For instance, the recently launched Emerging Leader Program enrolls groups of 30-35 high-potential managers at the regional level in Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific. Integrated into their personal assessments and growth plans, the Emerging Leader Program includes discussions of strategy, leadership and people management. In 2012, 216 leaders in eight cohorts completed the Emerging Leader Program. Europe hosted three cohorts, Asia supported three cohorts, and the Americas ran two cohorts.

At the most senior level, our Executive Compass program consists of a week-long intensive training delivered by some of the top 20 leaders in our company. Executive Compass provides new senior managers with a deep dive into Abbott strategy and challenges them to think through a broad range of scenarios affecting stakeholders and customers. Participants engage in a series of intense case studies that help hone their decision-making skills and prepare them for the day-to-day challenges of working in senior management. Executive Compass also focuses on building the talent pipeline. In the past eight years, more than 500 divisional vice presidents and general managers of our Large Business Units (LBUs) have graduated from the Executive Compass program (and its precursor, Leadership Forum), which we view as the capstone of our leadership development series.

Note: All data reflects Abbott activities in 2012. Some content has been adjusted to remove data specific to AbbVie, which became a separate company on Jan. 1, 2013.