Monica Dickenson

2016 Changemaker: Monica Dickenson, CMP, SMMC

For creating a certification program for Baxalta’s supplier partners that ensures quality, efficiency, and consistency in meeting execution—as part of implementing an SMMP in only a year’s time

Monica Dickenson, CMP, SMMC, Baxalta


Senior Manager, Meeting and Event Planning
Baxalta Inc.

Monica Dickenson started her career in medical meetings 17 years ago in Carmel, Ind., managing industry-supported symposia at medical association annual meetings: “It was the start of an amazing career path,” she says. “Some of the most memorable moments of my career were made there.” She’s quickly making her mark at Baxalta, where she’s been a senior manager for nearly a year. 

Making Change
Change for our organization is ongoing and is something we embrace. Quest for Innovation is one of our values. So when our team was given the responsibility of going from the North American commercial planning and execution team to a global strategic meetings management program within a year, we took the challenge head on! Creating an SMMP led us to uncover several areas of opportunity for change. As we began to manage the increasing scope, one specific opportunity was around resource management for both our internal team and our third-party meeting management partners. Our biggest challenge was to maximize our resources and hold stakeholders accountable to our processes while supporting our SMMP and organizational goals.

A key component to an SMMP is a policy that supports our overall strategy and drives effective change. My first thought was to leverage the policy to improve the process of managing our resources, whether internal or external. My next thought was to find a way to differentiate our meeting management partners to ensure they would be seen as an extension of our team. This would require them to receive the same level of training as our team and then “certify” them to show our stakeholders only a select group of suppliers are fully trained on our policies, procedures, and technology. It was my “aha” moment. 

Based on this, we introduced the Baxalta Certified Meeting Management Companies designation. Only those companies identified by Global Meeting and Event Services can have this designation and must go through a comprehensive training course to include our department operating procedures, technology tool, aggregate spend process, meetings policy, and applicable key interdependent polices. As a result, stakeholders now receive a consistent level of service, our partners receive fair market share, and we have the flexibility to assign work faster and to the right resource. 

What’s Next?
In the near future, I plan to work with procurement and finance to segment suppliers based on their core services. This will reduce the number of preferred suppliers and provide the ability to contract with a supplier on a transactional basis rather than via a master services agreement.

Second, I would like to become an approver in the compliance approval process flow related to the appropriate use of hotels/venues for healthcare professional meetings. I’ve inserted myself already by providing direction around the types of hotels that are acceptable by using an industry chain scale as part of the criteria. By becoming a part of the compliance process, meeting services would provide final approval of hotels for use at HCP meetings and simplify the venue sourcing/contracting process especially for our stakeholders outside of North America.

Managing Change
Provide opportunities to interact and share information. In our case, we launched a communication plan to increase awareness of our services, the SMMP, and the new policy. As part of the SMMP, we engaged key stakeholders and business partners from the onset. I recommend leveraging various vehicles to communicate change, such as the company intranet, newsletters, all employee e-mails, in-person kickoff meetings, training sessions, interviews, and surveys. The use of surveys was invaluable. We surveyed various stakeholder groups including our global administrative community during the discovery phase of our SMMP. It was a great way to engage and empower internal stakeholders in the process, and we gained consistent and quantifiable feedback. I also recommend identifying a network of change agents who are willing to be champions. This has allowed us to gain further insight and find solutions to help teams be more efficient and make well-informed decisions, particularly in regions where we have limited visibility to on-the-ground activities.

Giving Back
I take every opportunity to share my knowledge as often as possible.  Learning and development is important to me and I find great value in sharing my knowledge and  in learning from others.

Most recently I had the opportunity to serve as a panel speaker for the 2016 Pharma Forum [co-organized by CBI and MeetingsNet] on the topic of “Global Meetings Operational Excellence—Strategies to Standardize, Streamline, and Leverage SMM Capabilities.” I am very passionate about SMM and have experience working with various industries, from financial to technology and consulting to pharmaceutical. Having a third-party perspective, I have now taken that knowledge and translated it to the corporate side. I look forward to continuing to be involved in Pharma Forum in the future.

In 2011, I partnered with my client at the time and served as a panelist for CBI’s 5th Annual Tracking State Laws and Aggregate Spend Forum regarding “Challenges with Fulfilling Reporting Requirements Related to Meeting and Travel Expenses.”

Previous: Changemaker Michelle DeClerck, CMP

Next: Changemaker Tahira Endean, CMP

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