In 2014, Valmet – a new organization born out of a de-merger in a seemingly unsexy, unwanted industry of capital equipment and services for the pulp, paper and energy industries – sought to make the most of its leadership development programs. How? By turning the company into a confident, forward-looking technology front-runner where the leaders truly saw how they could execute their part of the strategy with real impact. Valmet partnered with IMD, a top-ranked business school, to co-create a unique leadership development journey that helped it build capability and confidence at four levels: individual, interpersonal, cohort and organizational. This journey was developed around six critical design principles: creating two programs in parallel for senior managers and high potentials with connections between the two; mentoring of high potentials by senior managers; building around the participants’ individual business challenges; addressing or resolving these challenges in each session; ensuring CEO and Executive Team support and sponsorship; and measuring impact on all levels throughout the process. The journey exceeded the expectations set out at the beginning, not simply based on impressions and testimonials but in terms of real impact. Not only were individual capabilities built, but also 62% of the mentoring relationships continued well beyond the end of the journey; cohort networks improved by over three times because of the program, and substantial financial impact was achieved (between 5 and 167 times depending on the definition). Overall, by early 2018 Valmet had outperformed the Helsinki OMX and Global Industrials index by 62% since the end of 2014, and it was on its way to reaching its stated 8%–10% EBITA targets by 2020.
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