GSK Business Simulation

New recruits to GlaxoSmithKline have a deeper understanding of business structure and strategy after experiencing a business simulation that brings the process to life.

GSK Vaccines produces and distributes 1.9 million vaccines every day to people in 150 countries. It’s a huge and complex operation, from pricing to customer satisfaction. As part of onboarding and induction, new recruits need to understand how various parts of the business connect and influence one another, and an immersive GSK elearning experience was the most cost-effective route to achieving this goal.

Why were GSK looking towards experiential learning?

New employees need to understand how decision-making in one part of the business impacts another. The company wanted its people to feel informed and excited about their role in one of the largest vaccines businesses in the world.

GSK needed a solution that tackled a few key challenges:

  • Upskilling new employees from around the world in a large and complex business
  • Connecting the silos between business functions
  • Inspiring recruits about their role in an exciting company


Director, Global Learning Solutions & Development, GSK Vaccines

Paul Read

"We wanted to help our colleagues understand how decision-making impacts a whole range of aspects of the business."

How did Sponge approach experiential learning at GSK?

We created VaxSim, an immersive simulation that blends digital learning with a face-to-face experience.

Teams of 10 come together to play out a simulated financial year, making quarterly decisions on what vaccines to produce, what commercial tenders to bid for, what resources are required and what social responsibilities they have.

A key aspect of the game is the competition; three teams will name and run their simulated vaccine companies, yet market resources are finite. They must make decisions quickly, balancing needs against benefits and risks. Each team forms a pseudo-board taking on different C-suite roles during the game, providing all members with the ability to contribute, debate and make decisions.

Director, Global Learning Solutions & Development, GSK Vaccines

Paul Read

"We’ve had teams from Singapore, Belgium and the UK all competing in the same simulation game at the same time. It works really well for a global workforce like ours."

At the end of the simulation, debriefing reveals which team won and ensures everyone has the chance to consolidate knowledge through asking questions, revisiting decisions and comparing strategies.

The multi-player game was crafted using interviews from internal experts across GSK Vaccines, which were reworked into a fictional world scenario. This meant that decisions were feasible and true to life, whilst also allowing us creative licence to place unexpected events in the game play to boost decision-making moments.

It’s a highly absorbing experience that players enjoy while deepening their understanding of strategic decision-making and business structure.

VaxSim includes:

  • Virtual world scenarios
  • Player interface to see virtual news, incident alerts, manufacturing status and to bid for tenders and see who won
  • Facilitator control panel
  • Debrief dashboard

Experiential learning exceeded everyone’s expectations:

  • 100% of participants enjoyed the experience
  • 90% said it would benefit them in their future job
  • It upskilled new employees in wider business strategy



"It was a great experience to actually ‘feel’ what it’s like to work in another part of the business."

Director, Global Learning Solutions & Development, GSK Vaccines

Paul Read

"It has worked really well. People are disappointed when we tell them the simulation has come to an end."

Let's talk.

Fill out the form below and let us demonstrate how we might be able to support you

Explore Sponge's simulations expertise.

Do you want your people to feel informed and excited about their role?

Start a conversation today