Corporate universities are increasingly becoming an option for global companies to maintain and enhance the talent within their organizations to be leaders, as well as provide an incentive for their employees to acquire further skills and other advancement opportunities. In this year’s annual EFMD conference, Philip Healy, Regional Director of the Centre for Creative Leadership (Belgium), and David Jestaz, the Director of EDF Group’s Corporate University, discussed the trend of the corporate university as a form of executive education.
Executive Education and Corporate Learning
David Jestaz brings both academic and corporate experience to EDF Group, which is essential to have, according to Richard Straub. EDF Group is the world’s leading nuclear operator, and Europe’s top producer and supplier of electricity, with 38 million customers in the world. The unionized organization, with an employee base of 159,000 workers, has certainly brought forth the need for executive training programs, and the corporate university at EDF has definitely achieved this. EDF’s Corporate University is one of sixteen corporate universities that offer leadership development and training for its managers.
In 2004, there was an apparent need for new capabilities, with the +1600 executives and talents immediately influenced by deregulations and globalization, so the EDF Corporate University was created to respond to this. The executive education courses offered in EDF’s university was originally based on providing EDF’s engineers, who had less experience in marketing management, with the tools to succeed in today’s corporate environment. These executive education programs are intended to help executives achieve a position where they can really devise and execute strategy. The Corporate University does work with universities; however, business school partnerships are not a priority.
In 2010, the university’s training programs expanded to address leadership development for +12,000 EDF employees in 2010. At the moment, while it has been operating for over 8 years, efforts are being made to enhance the university’s design capabilities and partnerships, focusing on building a targeted portfolio for senior managers in regional campuses, such as in Central Europe and Asia. Last year, under Mr. Jestaz’s leadership, the program received its Corporate Learning Improvement Process (CLIP) renewal from EFMD, which highlighted the EDF Group for its effective training program.
David Jestaz recognized that the energy industry is now facing trends and challenges composed of fragmented knowledge creation (levels of management with varying goals), frugal growth, and the significance of big data in making decisions. There is now a need to cross boundaries to get new ideas and, according to the speaker, business schools don’t always address these issues.
Business schools can produce managers on a large scale; nevertheless, it is argued that the skills taught here are not enough for senior leaders. Incumbents are rarely effective or efficient when there are technology shocks, and with a shift in demand and technology, this could be the start of the revolution in the industry. Yet, it is key to remember the following. As Steve Ludlow, from Said Business School, Oxford, has pointed out, business schools can have an important role in acting as a broker to get solutions to customer needs. Business schools can make an impact by working at a local level and engaging with its customers.
EDF Group has certainly shown an emphasis in educating its managers to enhance its knowledge creation and leadership skill set. However, the vision for its corporate university goes further than this. EDF’s university brings together the varying portfolios of the managers, who are centrally focused on people management and implementing strategy; and of the executives and talents, who are mainly focused on sustainable leadership, emerging industries, and the evolution of the electricity industry. Through the curriculum and learning solutions embedded in the corporate university training programs, both parties align their goals to work together towards a common vision and overcome the challenges facing senior executives, which, as Mr. Jestaz highlighted, tackles the issue of the fragmentation of knowledge creation.
Executive Education and Impact
Philip Healy began talking about the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), which is one of the top ten providers of executive education programs in the world, according to the Financial Times. As a not-for-profit, the CCL aims to be world’s most foremost expert on leadership through its autonomy to focus on research. Since having begun in 1970, with a heritage stemming from leadership and its impact, this center has accumulated a vast knowledge and research base on the direct link between creativity and leadership, to provide its clients with leadership solutions and strategies to be effective and innovative leaders.
The CCL offers core programs on leadership fundamentals, maximizing one’s leadership potential, leadership development, leadership and organizational impact, and leadership at its peak (leading an organization) for professionals and organizations working internationally. They have devised their program offerings based on five levels of impact, all within a six-step process. What stands out about this organization is its focus on people. Being people-intensive is the key part of its success.
An example of the impact that CCL has made on a client is Barclaycard, a financial services industry, where approximately 80% of executives reported feeling more empowered and engaged to do work. Also, 100% of the participants made improvements on the size and quality of their own internal and external networks, on their ability to foster ideas and generate multiple perspectives, and on their leveraging of networks to benefit Barclaycard. Barclaycard was actually put in a Blackberry, after having trained the company’s team of top managers on how to accomplish this. The CCL has also built upon the ideas of influential professor and social network analyst Rob Cross. Evidently, with partnerships, its knowledge and research base, and people-intensive approach, CCL has consistently brought forth results for the clients in terms of leadership effectiveness, influence, and collaboration.
Philip is passionate about investment in people, believing that for organizations, human capital will be the only single differentiating factor to achieve competitive advantage in the future. He is driven by seeing the transformation of individuals and organizations achieved by effective development.
Philip has over 15 years experience in the People and Organizational Development industry as a Sales Director, Key Account Manager and HR Professional.
Specialties: Sales and Marketing Strategy, Sales Planning, Sales Team Management, Consultative selling to board level of B2B services including consulting services and customised training solutions, Strategic Key Account Management, CRM and Planning. New business development, complex price and contract negotiations, responding to RFIs and RFPs.
HR Strategy and Organizational Development, Leadership and Management Development, Talent Management, Training Evaluation, Executive Coaching.
Head of Corporate University for Management, EDF
Responsible for Learning and Development for 12,000 managers worldwide. Built a curriculum for HiPo to C-Level Executives which delivered on the objectives of developing leadership and strategic thinking, while internationalizing corporate culture.
Created learning pathways for managers and a portfolio of learning opportunities. Developed organizational development capabilities for Business Units.
Awarded the Corporate Learning Improvement Process (CLIP) from the European Foundation for Management Development in 2008 and 2012, the Excellence in Practice Award for its Program “Thinking Outside of the Box” in 2008 and the Corp University Xchange Award in 2012
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