Ciba Specialty Chemicals Case Study: ‘Day in the Life’ Assessment

ciba-logoIndustry sector: Chemicals

Number of employees: 14,000

Location: Basel, Switzerland


Ciba had developed an effective company-wide competency framework, and had a clear idea of the types of Exercise they wanted to include in their Assessment Centres in order to assess potential Middle Managers against these competencies.

Ciba were looking for a specialist HR Consultancy with experience in designing work simulation exercises as well delivering high quality Assessment Centres.  a&dc were selected following an initial meeting and after having sent a proposal which outlined a cost-effective solution.

With dates for the first Assessment Centres already fixed, a&dc were set a challenge of creating bespoke Exercises to be delivered to an agreed schedule during the day-long events.

An added challenge was presented, since Ciba intended to use the bespoke exercises on a global scale. It was necessary to ensure that all Exercises could be used within a variety of different countries, continents and cultures.


Before complete Exercises were written, Exercise summary ‘Pen Portraits’ were provided to Ciba which described each Exercise context and setting, as well as outlining the tasks required of Participants.  a&dc also designed a Competency Exercise Matrix which showed which of the Ciba Competencies each Exercise would assess.

The Assessment Centre included an electronic ‘InBox’ Exercise, a peer discussion, an internal performance review meeting, and an oral presentation. The mix of Exercise types and settings, combined within this Development Centre event would allow Assessors at Ciba to effectively evaluate Participant’s suitability for more senior and key managerial roles.

The Exercises were linked in a ‘Day in the Life’ style event with all exercises being integrated and set within  a  large multi-national biochemical organisation. This helped to ensure that the event was perceived as highly realistic as well as allowing Participants to demonstrate their capabilities in relevant situations and scenarios.

The InBox Exercise added a further crucial element of realism to the Assessment Centre. Through the use of common office software and email applications, Participants complete a series of tasks as they would in the target job role. Individuals would be required to prioritise items requiring urgent action while setting other tasks aside to be tackled later.

Although familiar with traditional paper-based assessment exercises, Assessors within Ciba had not previously taken advantage of electronic exercises. Training was therefore offered to ensure they could continue to use their bespoke Inbox independently following the initial project.


The first Assessment Centre was successfully rolled out in January 2007 within budget and on deadline.

Ciba has to date successfully implemented their new Assessment Centre format in three different continents. Following the initial AC event, plans were in place to run a further 10 events in Europe, 4-6 in the USA, and 20 others around the world before the end of 2008.

What the client says

“This assessment centre has now been rolled out in the three continental regions of Ciba (EMEA, Americas and Asia Pacific) and is getting high user and candidate approval due to its high face validity and relevance to the working environment. The technical and professional support from a&dc has been of a high standard and they have met demanding timescales in order to support our roll out timetable. The management of our account has been ably lead by Amir Morshed who has taken care to ensure that our needs are understood and met. I have no hesitation in recommending their professional services.” Bob Morton, Head of People Development EMEA, Ciba.