Heraeus Medical Components: Using Blended Learning to Develop Tomorrow’s Leaders
A Vision for Future Leaders
Heraeus Medical Components “traces its roots back to a pharmacy opened by the family in 1660.” Today, they have 13,000 employees in 40 countries.
A 350-year history is impressive to say the least, but Heraeus is just as keen on looking to the future. With big goals to achieve, Heraeus’ executives knew they needed a strong leadership pipeline. To achieve this, they had to ensure that their high profile managers were equipped with both product and functional knowledge, as well as effective, broad-based leadership skills.
Heraeus felt that their pipeline was strong in product and functional abilities, but they sought to establish more consistent leadership capabilities. Heraeus executives called this “moving leaders from good to great.” With this goal in mind, they developed a vision of a program that would advance the skills of a broad section of future leaders from all over the country.
They brought their vision to Carlson Executive Education to turn into a reality.
“Moving from Good to Great”
Heraeus planned to develop leaders as a cohort, to connect leaders and allow them to learn and grow together no matter where they were, and despite their variable and busy schedules.
To accomplish this, Carlson Executive Education designed a blended learning “master class” in managing people effectively, the Carlson Accelerated Leadership Program. The program builds the knowledge and skills required to be competent and confident in leading people in an ever-changing world, so participants are primed to lead in a business climate of constant disruption.
Beginning in September 2018, Heraeus executives, including President Nicolas Guggenheim and Senior Vice President of Customer Experience & HR Roycie Eppler, welcomed 15 participants for a kickoff at the Carlson School’s Executive Center. This would be the last time participants would meet face-to-face for weeks. Rather than have participants bend their schedules to attend an onsite course, the program combines online modules with in-person checks. This allowed cohorts to grow together, while enabling most of their learning to take place at any location, and on their schedule.
The program consists of online leadership modules, each of which contains multiple lessons capped with a performance check. Module lessons were divided into three parts, Foundations of Management, Communicating Effectively as a Leader, and Team Building. The program concludes with a capstone in which participants work together through a simulated experience to make critical decisions that impact the organization's bottom line, employee engagement, and customer satisfaction through their ability to effectively manage and lead people. Participants checked in virtually and presented in person together at the conclusion of the program, meeting in person only for the orientation, performance checks, and the final presentation.
From start to finish, the close collaboration between Heraeus and Carlson Executive Education deepened the value for participants. Several Heraeus leaders shared that this innovative approach to developing leaders will create a lasting impact on the employees and organization.
Heraeus already has a model for leadership: the Heraeus Leadership Competency Model. Aware of the need for well-rounded leaders, the Competency Model focuses on four areas: Leading the Business, Leading the Organization, Leading People, and Leading Myself. Participant success was measured against these focus areas. In order to do this, participants completed knowledge checks before and after the program. Their growth post-program was undeniable—not just in their answers to the questions, but to their self-assessments, wherein they expressed an increase in confidence as well as ability.
“You’re going to find this program connects and applies in places you wouldn’t expect,” said Product Development Manager and Cohort 1 participant Jack Dant when speaking about balancing work and the program during the orientation of Cohort 2. “And when you apply your knowledge and it works, it’s pretty cool.”
As for the future, the program is being expanded to include managers, team leads, and director-level leaders, and Cohort 2 kicked off in May 2019. During orientation, SVP Roycie Eppler told participants, “[Learning to lead] is a journey you’ll be on as long as you manage people.” After the Carlson Foundational Leadership Program, participants have the foundation they need to prosper on their journey and lead into the future.