Blog Post

ERG Spotlight: Boehringer Ingelheim’s PhaB (Pharmacists Across Boehringer Ingelheim)

By Jennifer London
January 12, 2016
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PhaB Logo
Boehringer Ingelheim

With contributions from Karen Dzenko Associate Director, Medical Education and Research Grants, Amy Patel Senior Associate Director, Medical Information and Betsy Silva, Office of Inclusion and Diversity, Boehringer Ingelheim

In 2012, a group of pharmacists working in several different business lines within Boehringer Ingelheim came up with the idea of getting all the Boehringer Ingelheim pharmacists together for an event to celebrate National Pharmacists Month. The group thought the event would be a great opportunity for pharmacists across the organization to come together to network and learn. The event was a success but left the group wanting more.

That same group met informally to discuss how they might keep the momentum going. Someone in the group suggested forming a networking group. Although everyone agreed that networking was important, they wanted to find a way to have an impact on the business and the community. A member of the group reached out to Boehringer Ingelheim’s Chief Diversity Officer, Nancy Di Dia, to ask about the possibility of starting a Business Resource Group (BRG). Di Dia said, “Make the case, show how this BRG can bring value to the business and how it aligns with the goals of diversity and inclusion and I will see what I can do.”

A group of 15 pharmacists came together to get to work. They formed subcommittees and each worked on a different project: one developed the charter and the other the mission and vision. They presented their work to Di Dia and within the day they were approved as an official BRG.

Currently, PhaB (Pharmacists Across Boehringer Ingelheim) has over 95 members of the 200 pharmacists in the organization, representing all areas of the business including the medical function, R&D and the commercial function with experience working in diverse settings including managed care, hospitals, retail, and long term care. The group also includes pharmacy partners, vendors from organizations that work with pharmacists and employees from the marketing group.

PhaB’s Business Impact:

Pharmacists are key customers at Boehringer Ingelheim. PhaB offers a pool of people who can advise colleagues on trends and challenges pharmacists are facing out in the field. The BRG has a business partnership sub committee that is charged with identifying the areas in the organization where there is potential for partnership and communicating with them about PhaB and the expertise its members bring to the table.

To gain insight into product packaging and marketing campaigns targeting pharmacists, the commercial and marketing teams often reach out to PhaB. For example, the commercial team contacted PhaB to leverage group members who had been, or currently are, practitioners in a clinical setting. Recently, the commercial team was putting together the packaging for a product that would be mainly used in hospitals and clinics and wanted to ensure that the communications for this product were focused on the needs of the clinician. Working collaboratively, the commercial team and PhaB created packaging and communications accompanying the product that did just that.

Having this internal advisory board with expertise in the pharmacy discipline has been quite a boon for the marketing team. Being able to leverage the experience of PhaB members, rather than conducting additional market research, has saved the team an extraordinary amount of time, effort and money.

Community Impact:

Schools of pharmacy require practical externship rotations as part of the coursework to earn a degree. For 20 years, Boehringer Ingelheim’s medical information function has been a placement for students from the University of Connecticut and Albany School of Pharmacy. Boehringer Ingelheim has seen this as an opportunity to increase awareness of this industry as less than 10% of pharmacy school graduates go into the pharmaceutical industry. In addition to providing this learning experience for the students, the rotation preceptors (externship supervisors) are able to develop their own skill set whether it be managing employees, providing effective performance feedback or coaching.

With the creation of PhaB, pharmacists from the medical information function reached out to the group to share their experiences and to encourage other functions to offer rotations. Since then, Boehringer Ingelheim has added three additional departments that host rotations and added an additional school of pharmacy, Western New England College of Pharmacy as a partner for externship placements. PhaB offers a network of pharmacy preceptors who share best practices with each other and has helped create more awareness about the rotations for a broader audience.

Although there are no explicit recruitment goals for the program, there have been two recent hires that originally came to Boehringer Ingelheim from one of their rotations. A goal for the future is to develop members of the BRG to become preceptors to expand the program to other parts of the organization. This will enable Boehringer Ingelheim to host more externship rotations, with the hope that this will become a substantial talent recruitment opportunity.

One of the students who did an externship rotation at Boehringer Ingelheim shared with his supervisor that despite the industry being such a great practice setting, pharmacy students learn nothing about it in school. He asked if there was a way to create a course that would educate pharmacy students about the pharmaceutical industry. He was able to connect PhaB with the administration at his school. PhaB and the school partnered to create a 10-week elective course on the pharmaceutical industry. PhaB members go to the school once a week to teach a class on their area of expertise within the industry. They cover such topics as: How does this department work? How do pharmacists fit into this organization? How can they develop the skill set needed to succeed in this industry?

Expanding their reach:

Not long after PhaB was created, a group of nurses working at Boehringer Ingelheim formed the Nurse BRG with similar goals of providing expertise to the many functions that have nurses as customers. PhaB and the Nurse BRG have collaborated on member career development, teaching courses, attending career days and educational roundtable discussions. To enable further collaboration across the two networks, especially amongst the many members that work in the field, PhaB has created a mapping survey to gather location information on their membership. If a member is interested in partnering on a project or a local event, members can access the map via the PhaB intranet site and find colleagues who are in geographical proximity to them.

What’s Next?

Now that PhaB has two successful years under its belt, it is looking at how the group can expand its impact. A main focus will be examining ways the group can collaborate with other BRGs across the organization. There are opportunities in areas of marketing targeted to specific demographic groups and recruitment opportunities in partnership with student groups at schools of pharmacy and with veteran’s groups.

The other priority for PhaB in 2016 is to continue and expand their work on professional development for their members. The group is piloting some initiatives now but there has been a strong desire expressed by the membership for more opportunities for mentoring and shadowing colleagues in other lines of business to explore their options to grow within the organization.

From the perspective of the diversity and inclusion office at Boehringer Ingelheim, PhaB stands out as a model for building a center of excellence at the organization. Boehringer Ingelheim’s diversity and inclusion statement reads:

Create an inclusive culture in which “value through innovation” thrives, enabling our diverse workforce to deliver medicines and solutions that improve the health of our customers, patients and their loved ones.

PhaB provides consultation, provides research and illustrates the alignment to Boehringer Ingelheim’s diversity vision statement, truly bringing ”value to innovation.”

About PhaB:

PhaB’s mission is to drive the PhaB vision of diversity and inclusion with particular emphasis on the value of the profession of pharmacy, talent acquisition, retention, advancement and career development of pharmacists. PhaB will have special emphasis on employee engagement and communication, including community outreach. Members will support an environment that recognizes and leverages the talents of all pharmacist employees in meeting the current and future business objectives of Boehringer Ingelheim.

Vision: PhaB will assist Boehringer Ingelheim in cultivating an environment that values diversity and inclusion of all Boehringer Ingelheim employees; to be a resource group to pharmacists within Boehringer Ingelheim; and to advocate for the profession of pharmacy and educate stakeholders on the value of pharmacists and how to leverage the value within the business.

About Boehringer Ingelheim

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., based in Ridgefield, CT, is the largest U.S. subsidiary of Boehringer Ingelheim Corporation.

Boehringer Ingelheim is one of the world’s 20 leading pharmaceutical companies. Headquartered in Ingelheim, Germany, the company operates globally with 146 affiliates and more than 47,000 employees. Since its founding in 1885, the family-owned company has been committed to researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing novel treatments for human and veterinary medicine.

Boehringer Ingelheim is committed to improving lives and providing valuable services and support to patients and families. Our employees create and engage in programs that strengthen our communities. To learn more about how we make more health for more people, visit our Corporate Social Responsibility Report.

In 2014, Boehringer Ingelheim achieved net sales of about $ 16.96 billion dollars (13.3 billion euros). R&D expenditure corresponds to 19.9 percent of its net sales.

For more information please visit, or follow us on Twitter @BoehringerUS.

Diversity and Inclusion at Boehringer Ingelheim

Boehringer Ingelheim recognizes and supports the organization of business resource groups for the purpose of providing a positive forum for professional development; to help drive the Boehringer Ingelheim’s mission and core values around diversity, inclusion and engagement, particularly in the recruiting, retention and promotion of diverse talent; and to raise awareness among employees of the richness of our diverse backgrounds and experiences.

About the Author

Jennifer London
Director, Events