Sponsored Coaching



Since Pfizer was founded in 1849 as a pharmaceutical company it has remained dedicated to discovering and developing new and better ways to prevent and treat disease and improve health and well being of people around the world. Today Pfizer turns over $21 billion annually and have 45 operations around the world.

Pfizer understand that good corporate governance and transparency are essential to their ability to be a trusted member of society and strongly believe that, in order to create and sustain a value for their stakeholders and for society as a whole, they must first practice responsible business principles. Staff at Pfizer are called ‘colleagues’ and many have gained international recognition for their individual efforts and achievements.

Due to re-organisation in the R & D division of Pfizer a number of very technical individuals, who had until this time managed small local teams, found themselves managing large remote teams based around the globe. The challenges for these more technical minded specialists to flex their people skills across continents was an issue.


The solution for Pfizer was to offer these four managers sponsored coaching so each of them could develop their people skills in-house, on the job and with the support of both an external Coach and a sponsor. Their sponsor, who was usually their line-manager, supported their learning in how to manage more effectively as a remote manager. Each of these four new managers were coached by a VBL Coaching Centre of Excellence Coach who worked with them over a period of six months. These managers all had the same line manager who was based remotely from them. This line-manager (or sponsor) was involved in a face-to-face meeting to set the initial objectives with the Coach and staff member before the coaching started. The line-manager was again involved mid-way through the coaching to review the objectives. This was done via video conferencing in order for the staff member to get a feel for working via this media when interacting with their own remote team members. The coaching sessions were all conducted face-to-face with the four managers and were held separately and confidentially from their line-manager.


Including their sponsor remotely via video conferencing in the initial objective setting and review of the coaching allowed all the managers to learn a new skill in managing their remote teams via the same method.

The new managers all met their initial personal objectives by the time they reviewed with their sponsor after three months. Subsequently, each was given new stretch targets for the final three months of their coaching. These additional objectives were also achieved at the end of the six month coaching period. Having both the support of a coach to develop their skills real time and getting regular feedback from their line-manager around their progress built the managers' confidence.

The line-manager found sponsored coaching an ideal way to develop their technical managers to have the confidence to ‘do the people stuff’. Having a coach local to their managers, meant that it expanded their capability and not needing to do the coaching, reduced their travel time.