For any company to function successfully – and continue to be fresh and relevant in today’s ever-changing and challenging economic climate
a range of skills such as those found in sales or in the technical disciplines are required. However, these will not be effective without effective management expertise to integrate and provide strategic direction and leadership - which is one of the scarcest skills in the corporate field today.
The art of management is a very particular asset and requires a wide range of capabilities. In addition, companies usually have very specific requirements of their management team, and therefore organically developing in-house potential and capability is often preferable to importing management expertise from outside.
Leading provider of portable air and power Rand-Air is part of the Atlas Copco Group, a company with a history dating back to 1873. Throughout its history, Atlas Copco has placed a strong emphasis on training, a strength that has seen it grow from manufacturing steam engines to the major industrial corporate it is today. The importance of training is also key to Rand-Air, which has long been known locally for its consistent investment in employee development and its people-centric ethos.
In late 2017, Rand-Air Sales Manager Kim Coetzee was selected to attend training at the Stockholm School of Economics (SSE) in 2018. The SSE's FEM Executive Management Programme is part of an international development programme for managers at a range of leading Scandinavian companies.
"There were participants from six different companies, and ten different countries who attended the course over a period of four months. The course embraced a variety of active learning approaches, such as case studies, group work, experience-based learning, structured reflections and project assignments," explains Coetzee.
With the rapid industrialisation of Europe at the turn of the last century, the Stockholm School of Economics was founded in 1909 to develop Sweden's management echelon. The purpose of the SSE's FEM programme is to develop and enhance general management and leadership skills from a multi-financial perspective and thereby enhance the participant's ability to lead a team in a multi-national context.
To be selected for this course requires two key characteristics from participants: a track record of successful management experience and high motivation for continued development.
Coetzee explains that the FEM programme developed the following key areas:
- Business environment and global outlook
- Corporate and competitive strategy
- Business model development
- Financial strategy and financial analysis
- Business control and performance management
- Industrial marketing
- Innovation and the network economy
- Leadership and personal development
- Virtual distance leadership
These themes are woven seamlessly into the program forming an ongoing process of growth through dialogue, structured learning reviews and reflection. The delivery is provided through a blended learning approach.
"During the course, we were involved in short remote sessions and webinars to complement and complete the delivery done in the face-to-face programme days," she continues.
"Another very beneficial aspect of this training is the global network that was created as a result of our participation. We connected and formed contacts with participants from companies all over the world."
"As a result, you get new ideas on how to implement different things in your own business, because you are exposed to other environments and other ways of doing things. It enhances and enriches you as a person - and enables you to think differently and approach things from a different perspective," she enthuses.
"When I returned from the training, I was very excited and keen to try new things within Rand-Air. We conducted a workshop within the company, and selected people from our various branches and operational areas.
From there, we looked at ways in which we could do things differently and improve. As a result, we have developed project teams, which are duly incentivised. This provides an effective and ongoing mechanism within the company to foster innovation and drive creativity."
She explains that there are certain requirements that have been identified where Rand-Air could improve their customers’ experience. The company also has a team working to develop a viable solution to this challenge, as exceeding customers’ expectations remains a key organisational imperative for the business.
"Training stimulates new ideas upon which the current and future industry growth is based. You have to find new ways of doing things if you want to grow and ensure sustainability. We are fortunate in that Rand-Air has always seen the benefit of continuous learning, development and looking for new and innovative ways in which to improve our customer service and remain fresh and relevant," she concludes.