In early 2011, a group of high-potential leaders from Pentair gathered in Shanghai and Suzhou, China to engage in global business talent development. It was a collaborative effort between Pentair and Carlson Executive Education and an impressive display of what a true talent development partnership can accomplish.
Delivering a talent development module in China was certainly a highlight in a partnership that dates back to 1999. "Our relationship with Carlson Executive Education is a real success story," says Scott Gregory, vice president of talent and organization development at Pentair, Inc. "In 1999, it was really Pentair's first foray into executive development, and Carlson Executive Education helped us deliver an effective program from the start. However, our continued partnership has enabled great improvements over time, which reflect both stronger senior leadership engagement and expertise provided by Exec Ed."
Aligning program to meet global expansion
With the selection of Randy Hogan as chairman and CEO of Pentair in 2001, and Fred Koury as senior vice president of Human Resources in 2003, Pentair's Executive Development Program took on greater strategic importance, which drove greater alignment between program content and the company's strategic focus on growth and globalization.
"One of the key enhancements in the program has been to integrate Pentair's senior leadership, including the CEO to COO, to instruct in some of the modules," says Koury. "The instructor ratio is about 60 percent Carlson Executive Education business faculty or consultants and 40 percent Pentair senior executives."
"The great thing is it was actually Carlson Executive Education who recommended we do that," says Koury. "Not only do participants get business experts from Executive Education but they get the top people in Pentair teaching them. It's a great blend."
The module in China was part of the current incarnation of Pentair's Executive Development Program, a two-year Carlson Executive Education-designed program that engages high-potential employees from around the world. On average, 25 Pentair employees from diverse backgrounds and work functions are active in the program.
"You'll find people in the program from China, Brazil, the U.S., Australia...everywhere," Gregory says. "It's a cohort model and within the cohort the people are divided into groups and that has come to be very powerful because after the program they have this global bond with their Pentair peers."
During the program participants are exposed to four modules: leadership, finance, marketing/growth/strategy, and global business. Changes in the program over time mirror the strategic transformation of Pentair over the past 10 years, and Carlson Executive Education worked with the company to ensure each module is highly Pentair-specific and strategy-driven. For example, participants just don't learn finance, they learn about Pentair's financial structure and how to make strategic decisions within that structure.
"Carlson Professor Ed Joyce taught in the first finance session and still teaches it today. He has invested a lot into Pentair," explains Gregory. "He comes in and talks with our CFO and asks what has happened since he last taught the session. He makes sure that he's not delivering Ed's content; he's delivering current, relevant Pentair content. And he's not the only one from Carlson who has made that effort."
Within the global business module there's a heavy emphasis on cross-cultural leadership to complement Pentair's demand for global leaders and Pentair's fast-growth market strategy. (The latter actually inspired the idea of having a module held in China.)
The program runs on a continual basis; as one cohort is graduating, another is starting the program. By spreading the education over two years, participants are able to absorb and apply what they've learned.
Participant feedback =program improvements
An aspect that Gregory has greatly appreciated over the years is Carlson Executive Education's efforts of gathering feedback from participants.
"They do that very well. After every module we have a lot of data about what the participants found useful, what needs more emphasis next time, and what techniques work best. So before we go into a module, we sit down with Exec Ed with the feedback and see where we need to make tweaks to the program," says Gregory.
"The combination of expertise provided by Carlson Executive Education and feedback from participants enables continuous improvement to the program."
The introduction of Pentair's Executive Development Program in China was just the start in its internationalization of the program. Pentair plans to work with Carlson Executive Education to do a China module again in 2012, but also foresees expanding the program to the emerging markets of India, Latin America, and Eastern Europe in the future.
"It certainly has been fun being a part of the evolution of Pentair's Executive Development Program," indicates Gregory, "and I look forward to seeing where Pentair and Carlson Executive Education can take it down the road."
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