Going for Gold
IfM ECS has been partnering with Atos SE in the delivery of a highly bespoke professional development programme for exceptional experts within their organisation.In 2018, IfM ECS will deliver the 10th Atos ‘Gold for Experts’ programme, developing the skills and knowledge of around 300 employees.
Atos SE is a global company with annual revenues of around €12 billion and 100,000 staff working in 72 countries. It provides a range of digital services such as business and platform solutions, infrastructure and data management, big data and security as well as transactional and payment services. Atos is also the Worldwide Information Technical Partner for the Olympic and Paralympic games.
Business relies on people with outstanding expertise. These experts, by definition, need to be specialists but they also need to have an end-to-end view of how the business works – to see ‘the big picture’ – if they are to find new and better ways to meet their customers’ needs. However, experts are often given training and development which deepens their expertise but does not necessarily broaden their knowledge of organisations. Atos decided to address this challenge by developing a wide-ranging programme specifically for its most talented experts.
Sven Geerts, from Atos’s Global Talent team, said: “With our experts working in so many different countries and divisions, we need them to see beyond their own geographical and functional boundaries and develop an ‘end-to-end’ view of the business – understanding what the client (and often the client’s customer) wants and how the whole organisation works together to make that happen.”
Atos sought a partnership with an organisation that would co-develop the programme. To give the programme the appropriate level of prestige within the organisation, Atos looked to world leading universities and business schools that were willing to create a programme tailored to their specific needs.
IfM ECS was selected because it had the expertise they were looking for in innovation and technology management and the experience of developing and delivering successful executive education programmes. IfM ECS worked with Atos senior executives to understand the business, its strategy and challenges, how they defined their ‘expert talent’ and what they wanted them to achieve.
A core requirement of the programme was that it should be delivered in collaboration with the University of Paderborn in Germany, which has a joint research and development laboratory through which academics and experts from Atos work together on a range of research projects
Sven said “we were very much looking for a partnership – an organisation which would be willing to co-develop a course with us and then continue to innovate to keep the programme aligned with the fast-changing world of digital services. If you buy something off the shelf, your competitors can do the same. That’s not our philosophy.”
Delivering the courses
The programme, Atos ‘Gold for Experts’ consists of three one-week modules taking place over a sixth-month period, the first and last held in Cambridge and the middle one in Paderborn. It is difficult to get on the programme, with just 30 participants selected each time.
Some of the features of the programme include:
- Active learning through which delegates apply new principles both within the modules and back in the workplace so they are fully understood assimilated.
- Highly interactive sessions that encourage participation and collaboration.
- Project work, where participants work on a project proposal designed to address issues of strategic importance to Atos. On the final day of the programme the project groups present their findings back to a panel of very senior executives.
The Atos ‘Gold for Experts’ programme has delivered results including:
- A higher than average retention level amongst those who have been on the course.
- Employees that are confident and able to take the knowledge and tools they have learned and directly apply them into the workplace
- Project ideas that have developed into new business offerings. For example, the Nymi Band, an authentication wristband based on a person's heartbeat for ultra-secure authentication enabling secure hands free access to company information systems.
- After the full programme participants know each other extremely well, and leave with a network of fellow experts they can call on from across the business.
“You interested me, challenged me, surprised me, even irritated me sometimes but you certainly did not leave me indifferent. I have had some very inspiring times and appreciated all this knowledge put in its global perspective giving a consistent vision of the challenges we, as Atos, but also as individuals, are going to face in the coming years.” Feedback from a participant of the ‘Atos Gold for Experts’ programme
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