Avnet: Fostering leaders of tomorrow

Global technology firm Avnet is hell-bent on designing a specific leadership programme for millennial employees. HRM finds out more.

Khia Tat Lim, Vice President of HR, Avnet, says its Asia-Pacific organisation consists of a large pool of millennials; nearly half of its total workforce in the region.

“They are vibrant, resourceful, collaborative and passionate learners,” Lim says.

Having ascertained that the future of Avnet lies in these young professionals, Lim says the organisation thought it was “imperative” to craft a specific programme that would tackle the company’s needs and aspirations.

Hence, the birth of Avnet’s Young Leaders Programme, or Avnet YLP.

High-potential frontline managers

According to Lim, Avnet YLP was designed by subject matter experts within the Avnet Asia organisation as a means of developing the leadership competencies of staff at the early stages of their careers.

“It was conceived as part of Avnet’s talent management efforts in support of our rapidly growing business. It serves to accelerate the learning and development of our first level leaders, or ‘frontline managers,’ who have demonstrated potential and readiness to take on expanded roles and responsibilities,” he explains.

The programme was also formulated to help Avnet frontline managers gain insights into the company’s regional business, hone their business acumen; learn about Avnet’s perspective on ‘potential’, and identify their respective positions on four specific ‘agilities’.

These agilities are based on global people and organisational advisory firm Korn Ferry’s Learning Agility model. They are: mental, people, change and results agility.

“As part of Avnet YLP, participants are involved in a continuous improvement project. They form groups and are asked to identify a business process that they see potential to improve upon and then present their plans back to the other participants,” Lim elaborates.

“To hone their business acumen, they undergo business case development and business plan development learning courses before embarking on research into next generation technologies such as cloud, big data and analytics, converged infrastructure, and security.”

Avnet YLP also allows participants to interact closely with Avnet’s subject matter experts and senior leadership, who also function as their mentors during the programme.

Participants will then present to the executive team and receive guidance on how to further leverage Avnet’s organisational strengths to enhance the company’s competitive advantage, drive productivity and profitability.

“The culmination is an intensive three-day programme designed to help frontline managers transition from a ‘leading others’ role to a ‘leading leaders’ role in the future,” adds Lim.

The nuts and bolts

While Avnet YLP is designed to combine both theory and real-world application, Lim says its young leaders are exposed to the principles of Avnet’s business and financial success over the course of the programme. They are concurrently given opportunities to apply them in small projects under the guidance of senior leaders.

“They are also evaluated and provided with feedback upon the completion of their projects. This ensures that what they learn about the organisation and themselves in the course is practicable and applicable in the real world, which will facilitate the learning process,” he says.

“There is also an opportunity for one-on-one feedback to be provided after an individual assessment, which helps the participants quickly identify areas in which they can improve.”

During the 2015 edition of Avnet YLP, Lim says programme participants were split into four groups to conduct research projects around next generation technologies: cloud, big data and analytics, social businesses, and mobility.

“Prior to embarking on their projects, the participants heard presentations on next generation technologies and their applications in business and HR, and discussed Avnet’s strategic direction and leadership expectations,” he states.

“In this sense, our participants were able to apply what they had learnt in a safe and guided environment as a test of their leadership skills, and proved themselves equal to the task.

“Another highlight of this programme is the opportunity for close interaction across departments and geographies.”

Selection criteria

With the scheme being a high-potential programme for Avnet’s frontline managers, Lim says the organisation has a very systematic selection process that ensures chosen candidates meet Avnet’s three defining requirements of potential, namely: sustained high performance, a desire to excel, and learning agility.

“Business units are invited to nominate their talents by providing very specific details of candidate achievements and evaluation of their potential. The nominations are then submitted to regional HR Learning and Development for final screening,” he says.

KT Chin, Business Development Manager, Avnet Malaysia, participated in the Avnet YLP. He says one key takeaway from the programme was the mentoring with senior leaders which allowed participants to move forward together at the completion of the course; hence, progress does not stagnate.

“I believe this mentoring benefits the young leaders as professionals and as individuals,” says Chin.

Another participant, Pankaj Dhingra, Branch Manager (North), Avnet India, says the programme was a good initiative as participants received excellent support from the management team and their trainer during the course.

“This training will truly help us to improve our performance in the workplace,” Dhingra says.

Giving the thumbs up

  • Gabriel Kankindji, Business Manager, Avnet Australia and New Zealand: The training has given me some great clarity on what I would like to achieve with my career. I’ve been leading for a while and now I know that I actually really enjoy it and I would very much like to further my career in leadership and officially make it a mission to achieve great things at Avnet.

 

  • Judy Yuan, Senior Operations Manager, Avnet China: It was a very impressive and an amazing programme. It deepened my insight into our business and also allowed me to learn more about the whole organisation. As for talent management, there were useful tools we could utilise to create self-development plans.

 

  • Egerton Niranjan, commercial manager, Avnet, Australia and New Zealand: My experience in YLP was amazing. It was good to listen and interact with Avnet’s senior leaders and subject matter experts, and learn from their wealth of knowledge and practical insights on Avnet’s business and the larger IT ecosystem. The one-on-one feedback in the Learning Agility assessment was immensely useful, as it helped me to quickly identify the areas where I needed to change or improve. Another highlight for me was the opportunity to meet and work alongside colleagues from all over the region in different divisions. Clearly, Avnet has invested a significant amount of resources into this initiative, and it really shows how committed they are to helping us grow professionally and as leaders.

 

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