It is vital for companies to develop leaders who can navigate in international business environments with confidence, says Przemyslaw Belczewski (right above). According to Mika Haapala (left above), a fully committed partner ensures that the programme receives the attention it deserves.
One of the biggest light metal foundries in Europe, Alteams Group, is leading the way in developing leaders to the global market. Alteams has partnered with HRM Partners (now Hanken & SSE Executive Education) to create an international leadership training programme called Alteams Academy, with participants from China, Poland and Finland.
Mika Haapala is responsible for Alteams operational excellence program and human resource development is a crucial part of that. Haapala's passion for developing people is obvious - and contagious.
"At Alteams it is, of course, important to invest in machinery and equipment, but long term value is always produced by the people working at the company. Everything is easier when production workers and leaders are skilled and motivated. That is why we wanted to create an inhouse training and mentoring programme", Mika Haapala says.
There is fierce competition for the best talent in the global market.
"Alteams can offer much more than a competitive salary," he points out. "We have a unique company culture and are very proud of the values our company is built upon."
Alteams believes that people are the key to success. They believe in both the continuous development of the company and its personnel. The newly launched Alteams Academy supports leadership development, building on the expertise the participants already have.
The goal is that each participant will grow in their understanding of themselves as a manager, leader and a team member.
"Alteams Academy makes it possible for us to grow our own leaders in a very competitive and multicultural business environment", he says. "It is also an investment in our values and culture and will encourage the sharing of best practices and experiences."
Quite early on Alteams realised they wanted to engage an external partner for its leadership development.
"We are committed to developing leaders. However, we do not have experience in running leadership training programmes, so an outside perspective was and is very welcome. A fully committed training partner ensures that the programme receives the attention it deserves", Haapala explains.
Alteams chose HRM Partners (now Hanken & SSE Executive Education) to work with them. Alteams global HR team and leadership coach, director Mari Tasanto from Hanken & SSE work closely as a team. Tasanto is responsible for most of the leadership development modules and coaching. In addition to that, thanks to HRM Partners, Alteams has access to an international network of skilled trainers, even in China.
"Involving an external partner has given the programme credibility and a certain kind of dignity", he adds.
The level of commitment of the company executives to Alteams Academy is exeptional. Alteams CEO Asko Nevala has already run sessions with the participants on company values and strategy and lead discussions in chosen focus areas. Moreover, each Management Group member acts as a mentor to one of the participants, investing time in hands-on leadership development.
"There is a good understanding at Alteams that mentoring and coaching are excellent tools for sharing knowledge and competences", leadership coach Mari Tasanto says. Tasanto has been responsible for training the mentors, too.
"Mentoring brings benefits to both Academy participants and management group members alike. There will be new insights on how people think in production or in sales. Our CFO Petteri Kiili, for example, mentors a production manager. Everybody will end up with broader perspectives", Haapala explains.
The mentors will support their mentees in very practical ways and take pride in their role in growing leaders at Alteams.
Another exceptional feature of the Alteams Academy is the duration of the training. The programme takes almost three years to complete. This allows for ambitious development projects run by the participants - and gives them a realistic time span in which to produce results. Hopefully it also encourages a longer-term commitment to the company.
Participants have goals that are strongly rooted in everyday work. They will be able to offer consultation to each other, benchmark against each other's practices, share their thoughts about strategy and operational goals.
The last, but not least exciting feature of the programme is its multicultural nature. Alteams Academy attracted a great number of internal applicants from Finland, Poland and China, and the twelve first-time participants have already started on their leadership journey.
"The best part so far has been the meeting in China", says Przemyslaw Belczewski, a Polish participant of the programme. "It is really nice to talk with others who are equally as ambitious as I am and looking forward to developing their leadership skills. I have learned a lot already."
Belczewski thinks that it is vital for companies to develop leaders who can navigate international business environments with confidence.
"We need to learn to work as a global team", Belczewski says.
"Coaching and training a multicultural group requires an understanding of the different cultures and their typical motivators. One needs to have a heightened sensitivity for possible misunderstandings and make an effort to create a shared understanding of the training topics", Tasanto reflects.
The story of Alteams Academy has just begun.
"Our intention is to make this a regular training programme, one that would be attractive for future recruits, too", Haapala says.
Alteams Academy has already been able to promote the importance of leadership in the company. The true measure of its success will be seen in the years to come; in the quality of leaders it helps to grow and in the business they help create.
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