In December 2012, when Michael Smith arrived at Mylan, company leaders were plotting a new three-year strategy to fuel continued growth. The $9.8 billion generic pharmaceutical maker had already come a long way from its humble beginnings as a West Virginia-based drug distributor, but there was much more to come, including some aggressive M&A plans.\nBut Smith knew the IT organization was not on the right footing to execute on the assertive strategy. He had to retool the team. He had to build brand-new capabilities. He had to essentially rebuild the department\u2019s culture from the bottom up.\nOne other important priority: Find his own successor.\nThat might sound a little crazy to some. Leaders talk about the importance of succession planning, but far too few actually put coherent plans in place (while many others, obviously, have no say in their successor). Smith did so while building his senior team and transforming the company\u2019s IT operation \u2014 and in the process, he started a leadership development cadence that could yield Mylan\u2019s IT leaders for years to come.\n\u201cSuccession planning is obviously a big part of what I stand for. It\u2019s a moral obligation to the corporation to have great succession planning,\u201d Smith said. \u201cIt\u2019s a moral obligation to your team \u2014 to let them know where they stand, to be open and transparent, to remove politics, and help explain why people get certain assignments.\u201d\nAs he began settling into the role, Smith, a 22-year veteran of Nike\u2019s IT organization, assessed his new responsibilities and quickly recognized he needed some new blood in the senior ranks. To oversee day-to-day responsibilities for his key areas \u2014 IT, global business services and information security\u2014he was able to recruit senior executives from AIG, Amazon, Aviva, Costco, Estee Lauder, Nike and Ranbaxy, one of Mylan\u2019s biggest competitors.\nAt the same time, he made a commitment to Heather Bresch, Mylan\u2019s CEO, that his team would stand up new capabilities that would prove pivotal to executing on her three-year strategy. With even more key additions to his team, Smith built up operations in architecture, digital, innovation, enterprise business analytics and more.\nThe culture issue was a little trickier. A few years before Smith arrived, Mylan made two acquisitions that helped catapult its growth: India-based Matrix Labs in 2006, and Merck\u2019s generic drug division in 2007. When he assumed the CIO role, Smith saw plenty of the overall Mylan culture \u2014 \u201crelentless\u201d and \u201cpassionate,\u201d in his words \u2014 in IT, but he also found two subcultures. One existed among the many workers who had been with Mylan since before the acquisitions; the other, in the new talent brought in following the transactions. The incumbent group was more change averse, while the newer workers, who had spent their initial time at the company heads-down on integrations, tended to be more reactive.\n[Related: Deloitte CIO finds strategic value in IT's 'sacred' obligation]\nThere wasn\u2019t much forward thinking, Smith said. Innovation was pretty much nonexistent. And it wasn\u2019t a lot of fun.\nSo Smith set out to build on the best pieces of Mylan\u2019s culture, but also empower his team to take more calculated risks. But it went further. It was about bringing forth new ideas that would be valued, developing talent, and celebrating successes together.\u00a0\u00a0\nHe summarized his vision for the new ethos in a word: Joy. \u201cFun dissipates, but joy is sustaining,\u201d he told us. \u201cOne definition of joy talks about a sense of achievement, a sense of well-being \u2014 that\u2019s what I want.\u201d\nBuilding a culture is always a work in progress, but Smith said he is seeing big gains. He and his team continue to bring high-level talent to Mylan\u2019s Pittsburgh headquarters, and they\u2019re seeing increased employee engagement through events like hackathons and Lions\u2019 Den (an in-house take on the popular television show \u201cShark Tank\u201d), as well as awarding military-inspired challenge coins for success in demonstrating the company\u2019s values. Smith has also ramped up an internship program, aimed at bringing more \u201cdigital natives\u201d onto the team from top area universities. When Smith first arrived, they have five interns; in 2015, they had 75, with plans to hire as many as 60.\nAnd since 2012, Mylan has experienced dramatic growth \u2014 it finished 2015 with $9.8 billion and forecasts around $11 billion for this year \u2014 outperforming both the generic pharmaceutical industry and the broader sector in terms of revenue growth. And in that time, while transforming the company\u2019s IT and shared services operations, Smith began to see his earlier investments in talent start to pay some big dividends \u2014 so much so that, in December, one day after his third anniversary at Mylan, Smith was promoted to Global Head of Digital Innovation and Global Business Services.\nIn his new role, Smith will oversee all innovation for Mylan. He declined to disclose many specifics about what that entails, except to say that the company would be morphing from a generic drug maker into more of an end-to-end healthcare company, and that his tenure at Nike \u2014 during which it transformed from a company focused on footwear to apparel and later services \u2014 offers Mylan significant experience in driving change. Smith will also oversee all digital marketing, e-commerce and digital health initiatives.\nSliding into his old role is former Ranbaxy CIO Ram Rayapureddy, one of the external hires Smith made while rebuilding his leadership team. There are several other senior team members who can eventually step into the role, Smith said, having been hands-on in both the planning and execution of Smith\u2019s transformation strategy. And at the end of that leadership bench are the interns, who, through the succession management processes he\u2019s put in place, Smith believes will become Mylan IT leaders in the coming decades.