Bayer’s Big Impact
Top Canadian Employer 11 Years Running
When Christina Kruett, SeedGrowth Manager, Crop Science Division (currently on special assignment), thinks about her career with Bayer, three things stand out – she works with great people, there’s a strong collaborative spirit, and she’s proud of the work the whole team does.
Christina’s passion is even more powerful considering her tenure at Bayer – after starting as a Management Trainee in Germany over 20 years ago, she has enjoyed a number of different roles and international assignments, and settled in Calgary in 2002.
“I really enjoy going to work,” Christina says. “It’s a company that is very results driven, in a good way; it is well regarded and also really cares for its people. Our internal culture is very welcoming; in a sector like agriculture, where long-term customer relationships really matter, that’s so important.”
Passion like Christina’s isn’t limited to long-term Bayer employees; just ask Daanyaal Bandukwala, Patient Access Specialist, Pharmaceuticals Division, Specialty Medicine. A millennial and a two-time summer intern, Daanyaal started full-time with Bayer over a year ago as an Ophthalmology Key Account Specialist and now helps to manage Bayer’s Patient Support Programs in Oncology and Ophthalmology.
“Bayer is one of the top global companies out there, a leader in innovation and health care,” says Daanyaal. “There is an open, positive culture; you can tap a senior manager’s shoulder any time and ask them anything you like. And the opportunities are endless.”
This positive, empowering company culture is behind Bayer’s recognition as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers for 11 years running, one of just 10 companies to earn this award for so many consecutive years.
Our culture is an embracing one, a respectful one, one that really lends itself well to doing the right thing for our customers. What we offer our employees, whether that’s compensation, benefits, or the type of work we do, it all comes together in a best-in-class way.
“In Canada, we’ve also had relatively strong performance consistently,” she adds. “It’s that combination that works; everyone is working hard and is focused in the right direction, and it’s paying off.”
Bayer’s Success Formula
An important part of Bayer’s success formula is the company’s cornerstone LIFE values – Leadership, Integrity, Flexibility and Efficiency – which are embedded in every part of the Canadian business, including performance management, says Rolando Lopez, Director, Talent Management.
“In many organizations, people can’t even list their values,” says Rolando. “Here, we have a really strong set of values, everyone knows them, and if you’re living and breathing them, you will get rewarded. Living the values is really an organic thing, and you feel it from the top down.”
After spending years in another industry, Rolando says this means that the environment at Bayer is very unique.
People are very, very passionate about what they do; they have a social conscience and believe they’re making a difference,” he says. “It’s very business focused, but it’s also very open and people have a lot of respect for each other.
To support this kind of engaging, open environment, Bayer introduced The 4 Focus Behaviours – Trust, Collaboration, Customer Focus and Experimentation. The last is intended to push people to try new things, some of which may be outside of their comfort zone.
“We always need to think about what we need to do to stay ahead in a changing world,” explains Lynda. “We often say to new employees that in their first six to nine months, that’s when they are most alert to identify opportunities for future change. The ability to challenge the status quo is something we really foster.”
At Our Best
Beyond career development, Bayer is increasingly focused on helping employees develop their broader self. In 2017 a wellness framework was introduced that focuses on physical, mental, social and financial well-being.
“We know that to be your best self, it’s not just about the job, it’s about the whole you,” explains Lynda Newcomb, Vice President, Human Resources. “We already do a lot to enable our customers, whether that’s through food and nutrition, self-care on the Consumer Health side or the medicines we bring to market. In 2018, we’re going to be focusing a lot more on how we help to foster the whole person at Bayer, and Canada is at the forefront.”
Land of Opportunity
Being willing to evolve is something that resonates with not only current employees, but the next generation too. More than one-third of Bayer’s Canadian employees are millennials, and that’s before any summer students or seasonal contracts are counted.
In fact, for the past nine years, Bayer has been recognized as one of Canada’s top employers for young people, with the company’s extensive summer student program cited as proof-positive of its commitment to emerging talent.
“People are attracted to us because of the nature of the work we do,” says Lynda. “Young employees are looking for that purpose, for a place where they’ll be respected and rewarded and where they can grow. We have a very compelling story line for them.”
Lynda adds that the summer student program is invaluable in creating a pipeline of talent poised to make Bayer even stronger.
“Every year, we hire close to 200 summer students into the Bayer family, with the Crop Science Division hiring the majority,” explains Lynda. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for students to learn from a best-in-class organization, and at the same time, we win because we meet bright, talented young people.”
Opportunity at Bayer isn’t limited to students. Christina Kruett is currently on a special assignment.
"This is a great opportunity to contribute to shaping our future and to further develop my professional skill set,” says Christina.
Getting unique, on-the-job experience like Christina’s is one part of Bayer’s holistic, employee-driven approach to learning and development.
“Some people aspire to try new things by making a lateral move, others are focused on moving up, and others are really excited being experts in the field they’re in and may not want to leave their role,” says Lynda. “We will help people achieve their goals, regardless of the path they want to take.”
Along with the more formal Performance Management process, conversational opportunities like Development Dialogue give Bayer leaders the chance to understand the aspirations of their team members, and to help them to come up with a plan to get the training or experience they need.
“I’m really motivated, so it’s important for me to have access to opportunities,” enthuses Daanyaal. “This is a great learning environment, and I’ve had some awesome mentors here.”
Rolando agrees that career development is a major plus at Bayer.
“When I got here, it was like drinking from a fire hose for development,” he says. “In my two years here, I’ve done more to develop myself than in any other position I’ve had in other organizations. I’ve learned more and have had more diverse experience.”
But, he adds that Bayer’s appeal is more about the cause and the people than about opportunity alone.
“This is a place that combines people’s passions with a really good cause,” he says. “I’m not just a number here. I make a difference. And anything is possible.”
Christina, who originally came to Canada as an expat expecting to stay three years and has been here for 15, agrees.
“Bayer is really about the people you work with, doing work you feel is meaningful and contributes to people’s lives.” She adds with a laugh, “We also like to celebrate our successes. People are always asking me, ‘How can I get a job with your company?’ ”
The push to adopt Experimentation as a key Focus Behaviour is the rationale behind a group of coaches at Bayer Canada now trained in a method called “Systematic Inventive Thinking®” (SIT). A structured approach first developed 22 years ago, SIT helps companies generate ideas that help meet their objectives through innovation.
“Experimentation happens when you try new things,” says Rolando Lopez, Director, Talent Management and one of Bayer’s 22 certified SIT coaches. “People get stuck because of how they’ve always done things – something called Cognitive Fixedness. SIT coaches step in to facilitate when a group or team is stuck, walking them through different ways of tricking the brain to think outside the box and come up with novel ideas.”
By encouraging people to challenge their assumptions about the way things are done, and to think differently, already the SIT coaches are strengthening how the Focus Behaviour of Experimentation comes to life.