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Talent Development Centres for Future Leaders


The IT function within this multi-national FMCG organisation had identified that there were gaps in their leadership pipeline. Consequently they needed to take action to ensure they had a sufficient supply of high-calibre, suitably developed and motivated individuals to progress into leadership positions in the organisation moving forwards.


To achieve this aim Human Qualities worked with the function to ensure visibility for those individuals already identified as having “high potential” and to gather objective information about where these individuals needed to develop, at an early point in their career.
To meet its aims the intervention needed to provide both accurate audit information about these individuals, and to provide a springboard for their development. To achieve this we designed a four-day Talent Development Centre simulation event for future leaders of the function.
The event contained a number of stretching exercises, based around the organisation’s Leadership Capabilities, and designed to test even the most talented individuals. The IT Senior Leadership Team and Global Heads of Function were trained to observe the behaviour of the talent pool and provide them with in-depth individual feedback based on their performance in the exercises. This feedback provided detailed, structured information which was subsequently used to guide the participants during the construction of their development plans.
During the event the participants were also exposed to an intensive developmental session. This focused on them identifying their personal leadership brand and taking responsibility for their own and others’ development to fill the leadership pipeline. This was a key element in ensuring the embedding of learnings from the process.


In partnership with British American Tobacco, we have facilitated 9 of these events over a 2 year period, starting in 2005, supporting over 50 of their high potential managers at the start of their development journey.

The talent development centres have achieved 4 main outcomes:

  • Provided objective, structured information on the people within the IT talent pool, for use in development planning
  • Provided information to individuals about their strengths and development needs
  • Focused participants’ development planning on priority areas
  • Enhanced skills in senior leaders of observing and providing feedback to talented individuals

  • The success of the process has led to it being rolled out within the organisation’s IT shared services function in addition to the core IT business.

    Success factors

    We believe that the success of this initiative was due to two key factors:
    1. The commitment and involvement from senior functional leaders in the process. This sent out strong signals about the importance of leadership to the function, as well as enhancing the skills of these senior leaders through learning how to objectively observe behaviour and provide constructive feedback.

    2. The rigor of the Talent Development Centre process. This ensured that accurate and credible information was provided to both the organisation and individuals. This enabled the business to better understand the talents and limiters of its future leaders, and these future leaders to understand how they could truly maximise their potential.