Aligning leadership development for general managers with global strategy: the Bristol‐Myers Squibb story

Marjorie Derven (Managing Partner at Hudson Research and Consulting, Inc., Piermont, New York, USA)
Kristin Frappolli (Associate Director, Global Leadership and Management Development, Bristol‐Myers Squibb Company, Plainsboro, New Jersey, USA.)

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Publication date: 1 February 2011



This paper aims to describe an innovative, blended learning approach to global general manager (GM) development at Bristol‐Myers Squibb that encompasses the career lifecycle from pre‐promotion, on‐boarding and ongoing development for GM incumbents.


This is a case study of a leadership development initiative that included executive sponsorship with ongoing guidance and direction from a General Manager Advisory Council, who ensured that the learning solutions were relevant, high impact and supported on the job. The approach helped global GMs build networks of support and learning through peer coaching, leveraging the diverse and complementary skills these leaders bring to their roles.


Based on their diverse backgrounds, it is essential to use multiple learning approaches to GM development and avoid a “one size fits all” mindset. Blended learning, selective use of classroom instruction and social networking tools were combined to create a comprehensive curriculum that supports organizational strategy and builds the leadership pipeline at Bristol‐Myers Squibb.


This case study will help other learning professionals who are charged with developing “leaders of leaders” on a global scale.



Derven, M. and Frappolli, K. (2011), "Aligning leadership development for general managers with global strategy: the Bristol‐Myers Squibb story", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 43 No. 1, pp. 4-12.

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