Global Head of Learning and Development
Nicole Shalit is the global head of learning and development at Norstella and a vice president of business performance at Norstella’s MMIT. She began her career in market access in 2004 as a content analyst at Zitter Health Insights. When the organization was acquired by MMIT in 2019, she had been leading Zitter’s operations, client service and product teams for more than a decade. Shalit spearheaded the development of MMIT University, MMIT’s internal training program that covers all things market access and other domain-specific topics, and the Leadership Development Institute, which hones leadership skills for both internal promotions and outside hires. As VP of business performance, Shalit acts as an internal consultant, bringing cross-functional teams together to develop new processes and help facilitate change management at a programmatic level.
What’s a typical day like for you?
It depends on where the focus is that particular day across my roles. I have days where I’m meeting with multiple delivery teams and I’m really focused on a product, and I also have days where I’m live doing onsite leadership training. We’re doing a number of those live interactive sessions across our different Norstella office locations this year, which we are really excited about. Both of my roles are complementary — staying connected to the business helps me to have the right mindset from a learning and development standpoint. For example, since Norstella University is domain-specific, it’s tapping into all of the subject matter experts across Norstella, harnessing all of that knowledge and making that scalable and accessible across the organization. Staying connected to the business and our product development fuels that learning nicely.
What are some of the larger projects you’re working on?
Norstella University and the Leadership Development Institute are very big focuses this year. I’m also working with an internal tool called the Predictive Index, which we launched at Norstella last year. It’s a tool that helps us better understand ourselves, our peers and our leaders in terms of communication styles, preferences, and what internal dynamics might look like when we’re working together. As we expand as a global organization, it’s becoming more important for us to be able to understand each other quickly and keep that learning and curiosity mindset. That’s an area we’re very focused on from a learning and development standpoint.
What are some of the common challenges of your role?
One of the more challenging aspects right now is just the size of our organization and getting to know all of our teams and their roles across our business units. Expanding MMIT University to Norstella University is really exciting, but it’s also a pretty large endeavor to take on. Thinking about where to start first, how to expand, our top priorities — it’s a lot to balance, but they’re fun challenges to have.
What’s been your career highlight to date?
Coming through the first integration of Zitter into MMIT. Some people might read that and say, “Is she crazy? That was a really tough time!” And there were a lot of challenges. We were two similarly sized organizations with a competing product in the market, and we really were trying to get our bearings in terms of systems, processes and how to integrate those products, so there was a lot of pressure to deliver. Plus, clients and client deadlines don’t go away just because you’re integrating. But I learned so much through that immense amount of change, and there were a lot of successes along the way.
What’s been one of Norstella University’s biggest successes so far?
The use case with the greatest amount of value has been onboarding. There’s no textbook on clinical development or market access that we can provide to a new person joining the organization. I remember when I joined Zitter in 2004, I spent so much time on their website just trying to figure out what they did! I had no idea, I spent hours and hours preparing for the interview. I think a lot of people feel that way coming into Norstella, because we are so domain-specific. We design our trainings to be bite-sized and available on demand, so it’s a great way to be able to launch your learning and onboarding.
Which company principle resonates most with you?
I spend a lot of time thinking about our principles as part of the Leadership Development Institute, and I really enjoy thinking about the balance between some of them, so I think mine is a hybrid. Being bold, passionate and mission-first, as well as embracing reality, comes to mind often. We have to go after those sales, we have to develop that new product, we have to be quick-to-market and assertive, which makes this business really exciting. But you have to be able to balance that with the reality of what we can accomplish and with what’s possible. Sometimes we walk down the wrong path, and we need to learn from our failures and pivot quickly.
What would you tell someone just starting their career with Norstella?
I got some advice early on here — sometimes you just need to be able to ride the wave a little bit. It stuck with me, because it is somewhat inherent to our culture. We have a fast-paced culture that changes quickly, but it’s nimble. If you can be nimble with it, and focus on delivering value, you will find those opportunities.
Where do you see Norstella this time next year?
I see us still operating with a best-in-class brand portfolio that includes a number of new brands and products that are the result of combining some of our existing datasets and products.
What do you like most about working at Norstella?
I love interacting with the people here. There’s an incredible amount of talent and diversity in experience and expertise here. I learn something every day. I also really appreciate that the culture is low-ego. People are willing to say when they don’t know something, and when they want to learn more. It’s a learning-centered culture and I’m energized by that.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love to cook! I have my husband and my two daughters, aged 4 and 7. We all love to try new things and I love to cook for them, and for our friends and family. It’s sort of my creative outlet. Professionally, I’m really process and detail-oriented, so that’s kind of the other side of my brain.
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