Regeneron Pharmaceuticals

Building Efficiency in the Multi-Cloud with Hands-on Training: How leading biotechnology company leverages Cloud Academy to strengthen its baseline technical capabilities as they respond to COVID-19

Regeneron is one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies, and it’s using its 30 years of scientific and technology expertise to tackle some exceptionally important initiatives, including combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Internally, the company has a cloud-first technology mantra with a goal to strengthen its baseline capability in AWS and Azure. As it made a big push toward DevOps, Regeneron needed teams to pivot with competency between traditional project management and Agile methodology.

  • 554%

    Increase in overall skill profile scores

  • 488%

    Increase in AWS domain expertise

Challenge

It was a mix of both training and business needs that led Jennifer, Associate Director of IT Business Operations at Regeneron, to search for a scalable cloud training solution. From a skills perspective, one of the company’s most pressing needs was for its tech teams to be specifically trained on Docker and Kubernetes — a critical component to running an efficient cloud environment. On the business side of the house, Regeneron needed a clear picture of training across the organization, and visibility to ensure it was getting the best value for the investment. 

When evaluating technical training providers, Jennifer recalls the decision to partner with Cloud Academy was easy and quick. For the analysis, she gathered a “test team” of architect-level cloud practitioners in the organization to run a hands-on comparison with a variety of platforms. After a three-week trial assessing everything from the ease of use, amount of training available, how current the content was, and how in-depth you can go within the platform, Cloud Academy came out on top.

Solution

When rolling out the new training solution, Jennifer attests to the overwhelming amount of support from her Customer Success Manager, Amanda, and Sales Rep, Steven, who made the process seamless. They met with her technical team leads to understand their skills roadmap and goals for their training initiatives, then they helped her schedule kick-offs, provided a comprehensive orientation to onboard students, and set up Training Plans to keep students on track for their learning goals.

“Behind the scenes, my Customer Success Manager invested a tremendous amount of time in helping me pick Learning Paths for everybody. I felt like we went in there with a comprehensive idea of what everybody was going to do and how we were going to do it before we even started. I had so much support.” – Jennifer Zabrowski

In fact, two of the features Regeneron has found most beneficial are the Skills Assessment coupled with the integrated Learning Paths. Using the Skill Assessment tool first establishes a skills baseline that curates a set of courses, hands-on labs, and exams to guide students through personalized learning. The technical teams are mastering a variety of new skills in cloud migration, multi-cloud strategies, and security best practices. With each learning objective they complete, the students’ Skills Profiles continually update, which makes for easy reporting to highlight skill growth. 

“As the administrator, it’s critical for me to be able to demonstrate where their skills started and where they’ve increased, and that’s all proven by the Assessments. It’s been really valuable to us because it checks all the boxes for what all my stakeholders care about, including me.”

The executive leadership team at Regeneron values the skill tracking technology, and leverages the reporting to monitor training effectiveness at the organizational level. On the Learning and Development side, Jennifer is responsible for delivering on the ROI and the learning quality, so she monitors how diligent the students are and how they’re progressing through the Training Plans.

Even the executive team is actively learning within Cloud Academy. They set up a “Cloud for Executives” Learning Path for the directors that lead infrastructure and operations, which shows their dedication to excelling in the cloud. Up next? They’re tackling DevOps. 

“It’s nice that you have content for the fresh-out-of-college beginner, all the way up to senior leadership at the oversight strategy and direction level. That’s helpful, and our executives have benefited a lot. Funnily enough, they’ve been the ones coming back to me saying, “We’re about to wrap up our training. Could you assign us some more?” And I appreciate that. Who asks for training unless it’s really good. Right?”

Outcome

Regeneron takes a strategic approach to career progression, and having a programmatic training solution empowers employees to take ownership of their career. Whether they’re starting their journey with cloud fundamentals, working towards a professional certificate, or pursuing a management track, having formal targets in place has really helped them stay accountable. Instead of training being a task to complete, it’s become a major incentive for their teams. Being able to regularly point to skill growth is a way to showcase they’re capable of moving up, taking on new projects, or changing careers internally.

Proving that your skills are staying current in technology spaces is absolutely critical. If you’re on a cutting-edge tech team, it comes to the point where you have to be competent in the latest version and the latest services. And that’s hard to do on your own.”

When Regeneron first adopted the cloud, it was initially trying to train with classroom sessions directly from a leading cloud provider, but having to pull resources who were actively involved in projects or operations off of their job was extremely difficult to do in an IT organization. That approach left employees trying to do their day jobs on their breaks and at night, and the effect it had on their workload wasn’t scalable. Now, they have flexibility to train on their laptops or the Cloud Academy mobile app so they can learn on-the-go. They can easily fit in 20 minutes of training at lunch, on their coffee break, or during their commute. It’s naturally woven into their day whenever it works best for them, which was a real motivator for the Regeneron team.

“One of the greatest values we’ve seen is that training is now better integrated into the normal flow of their work — it’s not something employees have to take time out of work to do. And I don’t want to understate the importance of that, because it really is hard to pull them off their job. Meeting them where they’re already at has made it really convenient and helped with adoption. It’s been a big benefit and I think that’s why we’ve been so successful in getting people to go in and train.”

While this type of service offering was new for Regeneron, Jennifer wanted to make sure that the teams would be successful in their adoption, and diligent in pursuing their training goals. Jennifer says she never had concerns about the value of the tool, especially with Amanda and Steven helping her ensure their licenses were harvested appropriately to get maximum usage.

“My job is to make sure we do wonderful things with the budget I have. As the head of the training function, I appreciate that we can really demonstrate that we are getting better capabilities for the spend. And that’s a big deal. You really can’t put a price on that.”

Another area they’re seeing great adoption in the tool is with the Hands-on Labs, where users are able to train in fully operational cloud environments. Even in the labs, users can always exit and return to their training and pick up exactly where they left off. 

“While our team’s workload in a growing company is pretty tremendous, the Cloud Academy solution has allowed the flexibility we needed while still keeping teams on track, reminding them when training is due, and making sure that they’re diligent about their time in the tool.”

With more than 60 users in the Cloud Academy platform now, Regeneron is starting to use insights from its Cloud Academy training data to make strategic business decisions with its roadmap. Looking forward, Jennifer sees the company thoughtfully expanding Cloud Academy to more teams, including specialized security teams and application support teams. With the breadth and depth of content available, she’s excited to see proficiency continue to increase across the board as teams take on new challenges.

“From the interface, to the tools, and the reporting, I’m just tremendously appreciative of how easy it’s all been. With the help of my Customer Success Manager, I’m grateful that it wasn’t a heavy lift on my side. That makes it really easy for me to adopt and keep using it.”

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