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Heralding A New Chapter In Takeda Turkey By Transformational Change

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Established 235 years ago in Japan, Takeda has been serving society with innovative medicines and helping patients reclaim valuable moments of life from illness and become one of the world’s leading companies.

Takeda started Turkey operations in 2009 and expanded 3 times since then. In 2015, Takeda acquired a local portfolio and launched Specialty Care products. This big transformation opened a new chapter in Turkey’s history.

Following the acquisition, 3 challenges were crucial for the new organization’s success:

  1. Bringing more than 200 new talents to organization
  2. Onboarding & Creating cultural fit
  3. Transformational Change through developing organizational capabilities

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Imagine an environment such like: The products are new, the employees are new and the leaders are new… And all of these are happening at a company with 235 years of heritage…

Based on the corporate philosophy of “Takeda-ism” (Integrity: Fairness, Honesty and Perseverance) developed over 235 years of history, Takeda Turkey was founded in 2009 and expanded 3 times in the last 7 years.

In May 2015, Takeda acquired a select portfolio of local products and started local manufacturing in Turkey. At the same year, Turkey also launched Specialty Care Business Division. With this acquisition and new launch, Takeda tripled the number of employees. This was the most exciting moment in Takeda Turkey’s history and the biggest transformation started.

Following the successful completion of acquisition, Leadership Team started to work on the new strategy. There were 3 main HR challenges which were crucial to the success of the new organization:

  1. Bringing the best talent into the organization by successfully completing a high volume of recruitment
  2. Onboarding new employees and creating cultural-fit
  3. Achieving Transformational Change through organizational capabilities

CHALLENGE #1: Bringing The Right Talent

The first challenge for HR was bringing the right talent with the right capabilities by achieving the mass recruitment process without compromising any criteria of Takeda Recruitment Strategy.

Before the process, we implemented a strategy workshop and identified the organizational capabilities. In line with the outputs of the workshop, we identified the best talent in the market and targeted for headhunt.

The most critical KPI for the recruitment process was fit to the Takeda culture and all candidates took a specially designed Cultural-Fit Assessment. We also developed ideal “Sales Force Profile”, drived from interviews with the top performers in the company. All sales candidates took the inventory online and best candidates chosen according the matching points of the ideal profile.

During the process, 71.000 Candidates viewed the job post and Takeda Corporate movie, so the posting also helped us develop Takeda branding. 32.000 Applications were received and approximately 1270 resumes were sent via Employee Referral Program.

At the end of the process which took only 8 weeks, we welcomed 186 new employees in June2015. The recruitments continued all year long for critical positions and in 1 year, more than 260 new employees joined the company.

CHALLENGE #2: Onboarding New Employees and Creating Cultural-fit

Welcoming 186 new employees meant heralding a new beginning with a larger family, working together towards Better Health and a Brighter Future in Turkey.

The diversity of the employees was the most difficult factor. The 186 new employees came from 60 different pharmaceutical companies and everyone was holding their former employers’ culture and one of the most critical success factors was onboarding and creating ONE Takeda spirit. With this aim, a 3 week off-site Onboarding Program was designed.

At first, new leaders participated in the Takeda Leaders Meeting that we clarified expectations from Leaders. The kick-off meeting with the whole team was filled with enthusiasm and excitement since it was the first time new joiners met with the rest of the Takeda team. The theme of the meeting “I am TAKEDA” was clear from day one, and whole activities were designed to enable participants to fully feel “I am TAKEDA”.

The meeting focused on the Turkey Story, strategy and vision grounded in Takeda-ism values as well as our firm commitment to Patients, Compliance and Reputation. The meeting included a keynote with a famous motivational speaker, the coach of Turkey National Basketball Team. The theme of the speech was about “committing and winning.”

An Unforgettable ‘Team Building’ with Heart

The meeting included a team building activity; it was a special event since it was not just team building but also a Corporate Social Responsibility project and the cost of this activity was donated to the “Mentally Disabled Children School”. Please watch our video to learn more about this special activity.

After the kick-off, Takeda Induction Program which took 3 weeks started. During the program, Compliance, Medical, Marketing and Sales trainings were delivered. It aimed to fully onboard the team and help them align with Takeda way of doing business.

All program was full of creative sessions like medical competitions, Key Opinion Leaders, theatres, role plays and reached 4.6 satisfaction rating out of 5. At the end, the new and larger team was stronger than ever, with a strong commitment to patients and stakeholders.

In July, new Takeda team went back home and had 1st day on the field. They had selfies with doctors and pharmacists and we created a video with these selfies to make this special day unforgettable.

CHALLENGE #3: Transformational Change Through Organizational Capabilities

After the Onboarding Program, we immediately started working for Organizational Capabilities. A strong Development Strategy tied into organizational objectives was crucial to achieve the transformational change in Turkey.

We started to work by defining the change with all stakeholders and identified The Present, The Desired and The Transition States according to the business objectives. And then, we implemented focus groups with all level employees to understand the development needs and identified 3 key Organizational Capabilities to develop: Patient Centricity, Innovation and Cultural-Fit.

After careful analysis of our inputs from the workshops and focus groups we have designed Plus Your Life – Transformational Development Portfolio.

In the heart of the “Plus Your Life” you find “Takeda DNA” program which is designed to adopt all employees to the heritage, products, strategic priorities and unique culture of Takeda. Takeda DNA is surrounded by 4 different categories:

In Plus Yourself; employees develop self-awareness about their present state to transformational capabilities via a personality inventory and 360 feedback. We assess readiness to transformation by identifying strengths and gaps in organizational capabilities.

We believe that the most effective tool for development is feedback and we launched The Feedback Culture to increase the self-awareness and accelerate development within the organization.  We used the “feeding” concept and launched the program with lunch boxes. We designed tailor made guides and tools for employees and managers.

In Plus Your Business; employees develop their functional abilities and gain insight about Takeda’s business. We designed functional academies and business specific programs and employees nominated in these programs according to their development needs.

In Plus Your Future; we aim to develop innovative thinking in the organization. Bringing new perspectives and different approaches are two important capabilities for the sake of our business. There are 2 creative programs: Vitamin & Takeda Talks

In Vitamin; employees share their knowledge, experience and special talents with each other to widen their worlds with workshops like: Breathwork, Photography, Fishing, Cooking, Cinematography, etc.

In Takeda Talks; employees meet different people with inspiring stories to open new windows and think outside the box.

In Plus Your People; managers develop their leadership skills and all employees learn to gain collaboration. For leaders, we designed Takeda Leadership Bootcamp to develop inspiring and strategic people leaders and for manage-self employees we delivered Effective Communication&Colloboration Trainings.

The People KPIs & Achievements:

  • Max 10 % of voluntary turnover of the new employees: Voluntary turnover is 8% in 2016.
  • Min 50 % increase in employee engagement score: The engagement score in 2014 was 33% and in 2015 it increased to 78%. In 2016 it has increased to 89%.
  • Min 10 non-sales training hours per employee: Non-sales training hours per employee increased to 32 hours.
  • Min 4 rating score out of 5 for development programs: The average satisfaction score of development programs is 4.8. The lowest score of a program is 4.5.
  • Creating min 1 tool to develop innovative thinking: We created two different platforms named Vitamin and Takeda Talks to develop innovative thinking. We also built Takeda Social Activity Group to enable employees gain new experiences together and create new approaches.
  • Min 2 coaching meetings per sales employee in a quarter: Each field employee received 8 coaching sessions in a year.
  • Min 30 % increase in sales per Sales Representative: In 2014, sales per MSR was 319,000TRY. In 2015, it increased by 92% and reached 611,000TRY.

We had many challenges and obstacles during the deployment of transformation phase. Please find below some examples to the critical challenges that we encountered:

  • Cultural diversity of employees
  • Conflicting priorities of departments
  • Resistance to change


Acquisitions is about more than just merging assets and streamlining operations, you’re bringing together cultures. Culture change is not a quick or simple task. To overcome the challenges, we systematically analysed personal and organizational barriers and generated tactics to increase readiness and decrease the time and resources required to achieve business results.

We Defined The Change: After identifying the desired, the present and the transition states, we continuously communicated why this transformation is so crucial to the success of our organization via Town Hall Meetings, e-mailings, videos, posters, etc.

We Assessed The Environment: Assessing the environment via surveys during the implementation and creating cultural fit were keys to success. We conducted behavioural inventories and formal feedback sessions to assess the strengths and gaps of the organization.

We Built A Communication Plan: Continuously communicating with employees is very critical to achieve the transformational change. Sharing the updates about the transformation with our employees and listening expectations were the keys to success. With this approach we not only gained insight about the development needs, but also built commitment. We informed employees quarterly with TownHalls and performed field visits to build network, gain insight and fine-tune our strategy according to the changing needs. We have also identified our change agents and they had coffee talks with employees to feel the pulse of the organization together with HR.

We Gained Employee Commitment by New Initiatives: If you want to achieve a transformation, you need to be open to your employees and you definitely should develop some new initiatives to gain their trust. At the beginning of the process we conducted focus groups with our employees and they commented on HR process and shared their expectations.

For example, we created a new and comprehensive Academy for our Medical Sales Representatives where they experienced innovative development opportunities like Room Games for Problem Solving (getting trapped in a room and trying to get out with a team), Meeting with the Customer Experience Experts of a Love Mark for Customer Orientation, Hot-Air Balloon Riding for Trying New Ideas, etc.

Another example was Total Rewards Management. Our employees wanted us to be more open and make them understand how we define the C&B packages. We created Communication Ambassadors among our employees and trained them to have a deep understanding of Total Rewards Management. They went back to their teams and made sessions to share their experience.

We Developed A Reinforcement Strategy: We defined the consequences to reinforce the behavioural changes in the organization and integrated them with our Rewarding and Performance Management Strategy. We gave employees shared goals and created new reward programs to positively support the right behaviours and actions.

We Monitored  KPIs: Prior to attempting to implement any major change in the organization, it is critical that all key players reach a clear understanding of KPIs. Don’t assume that all organizational members have the same perception of the outcomes to be produced. At the beginning of the transformational development program we have identified the KPIs and created tools for monitoring like surveys, feedback channels, reportings, etc.

Takeda Turkey implemented a successful Transformational Change Strategy in 2015. Please find below our lessons learned and future outlook:

  • Prioritization is key to success. We had a very challenging roadmap and sometimes we had difficulties to keep the synergy and the energy.
  • We implemented very successful launches, and next year we need to focus on embedding more.
  • This year we focused on individual development; we identified the strengths and development areas of each individual and assigned them to development programs. Next year we will also focus on cross-functional teams.
  • We were very good at gaining insight from the employees, next year we will be focusing more on “Outside In” approach and try to gain insights from our external stakeholders.


At the end of the day, our secret recipe of success: Engaging employees by touching their hearts…

Leaders are the most critical players for engagement. At early stages of transformation, we prioritized developing leaders on strategic leadership, but we realized that the most critical thing is touching hearts.

For this end, workshops and trainings are not enough, you should first touch to the hearts of the leaders and enable them to have strong bonds with the organization. Engaged leaders create engaged employees as engaged employees create engaged stakeholders.

Engagement is not only just to be happy with the company, but it is also to be dedicated from heart. To create truly engaging leaders, we organized ‘’Leaders Touching Hearts’’ workshop. Our aim was to make leaders feel special in the first place to make them understand why it is so important to win employees’ hearts. We created ‘Road Song’ albums for our managers since leaders spend long hours on the road. We got in touch with their teams and families and everyone chose the most meaningful song for them and we designed a special album cover as a final touch. To be witnessed the happiness and surprise the leaders felt when they had their albums was priceless. We also sent their teams a questionnaire to show them which personal things win the hearts of the teams. Subsequently, they created action plans about what they should do in a yearlong period to win their employee’s hearts. We tracked these action plans and shared best practices.

After all these efforts we achieved to reduce our 19% turn-over rate to %8 in 2016. Beside that the most precious outcome was increasing our engagement rate from %78 to %89 in 2016.