Donaldson Company: Growing Leaders

Business Challenge

Accelerating Development

How do you prepare your high-performing leaders to take on enterprise-wide responsibilities and roles with a global focus? To answer this question, Donaldson Company turned to Carlson Executive Education to accelerate the development of their high-potential leaders.

Donaldson Company is a "global leader in providing engine and industrial air, oil and liquid filtration solutions." With a 100-year history of expertise and innovation in their industry, potential future leaders have a long history to live up to and a large organization to understand.

"We haven't traditionally used a lot of cross-regional, cross-functional, cross-leadership learning moments," says SVP of HR Sheila Kramer, "so this was a very deliberate, very intentional foray into that space." 

In order to give future leaders a "global sense" of the organization, Donaldson came to Carlson Executive Education's deep bench of faculty experts to design a well-rounded course that would in turn grow well-rounded leaders, the Donaldson Global Leadership Program.



Tackling Real Business Challenges

Throughout sessions on creating high-performance teams to global collaboration, to strategy and mergers and acquisitions, to innovation and design thinking, Donaldson leaders learned to think outside the box of their functional unit. Not only that, each team worked on a real business-relevant action learning project, and presented it to the executive leadership team at the end of the program.

Sheila Kramer was appreciative of the scope of participants' task: “This action-learning process included learning the whole business. So they had to go to what the need was, to really articulate and refine that need, and carry that through their whole solution. That was a lot of work to do, and now it will benefit them in their day jobs [because] they haven’t had to normally take something through that whole cycle.”

With these projects, leaders also had the opportunity to be creative, combining their new business knowledge with their previous expertise.

Another benefit? Peer-to-peer connection. Darlene Weiss, Director of Global Learning and Development, found this when multiple participants said to her "It wasn't until this program that I really got to know [my peers]." The bonds created in the classroom were strengthened via monthly virtual check-ins as participants developed their action learning projects.



Ready for the Future

Donaldson leaders left the program with a greater understanding of how their organization functions on a global level, increased connection to each other, and a sense of empowerment around their abilities as leaders. 

“There’s more cultural awareness [throughout their teams]," says Sheila Kramer. "Working across the matrix is a competency that we want everyone to continue to work on, and that’s definitely something they walked away with.” 

All of the leaders' active learning projects are being implemented to some degree. The progress of these real business opportunities will become part of these leaders' day-to-day jobs, and another part of Donaldson's long history.

Contact Executive Education