Are you getting any feedback from trainees that they're worried they'll have to go through more or different training once the integration is completed?
Salnoske: It's just the opposite. People are more appreciative for the opportunity to sharpen their skills because they see this as something that will 1) make them better suited for a position within the new combined company or 2) make them more attractive to a potential employer, if they have to go that route.
Training is an integral part of retaining top talent. Were you looking at the training program as a retention tool?
Salnoske: We've never had a big problem with retention or high turnover rates, so we didn't look at it from that perspective. It was really much more about putting these people in new roles--we had to give them the training, tools and methodologies to help them succeed.
You talk about the training program being a strategic initiative. How did the recession affect your overall IT strategy?
Salnoske: We've had two significant transactions in the last two years. In 2007, we acquired Organon BioSciences, so immediately planning for and executing the integration of that business became our No. 1, 2 and 3 priorities. Then we went through 2008 with that as our top priority.
Going into 2009, we went back to some of our strategic priorities, and a few months in, the Merck deal was announced, so we went right back to planning for integration again. Both transactions have to an extent disrupted some of our IT strategic plans.
But at the same time, IT is here to support the business. If the business strategy changes, we have to be flexible and adapt our IT strategy to the change.
One thing I've always said about any strategy--business, IT or anything else--it's not something you write, put on a shelf and pull it off three years later. It's something that has to live with the business and be modified as the business and the economic environment changes. So, we've been in a constant state of refining and modifying our strategy over the last couple of years.