Paving the way for great leadership development
Omar Khedr, Senior HR specialist, reflects on the main challenges that leaders face today and how SWIFT fosters their talent pool with learning, development and training management programmes.
Q: What is SWIFT commitment to foster and develop employees’ talent?
A: SWIFT is both willing and able to invest in the skills of its workforce. It does this in two ways. Firstly, SWIFT encourages staff to continuously progress by providing access to a multitude of development opportunities, computer based or instructor led. Employees also have the freedom to craft their own learning journey and they are expected to self-manage this as part of their own development.
We expect our staff to be in charge of their own development. Our learning and training schemes are an empowerment mechanism. Employees work with their managers to decide what tracks will be most useful to their career development, but they are also given the freedom to cherry-pick offerings that interest them personally.
To supplement these programmes, we provide mentors on specific topics and “trading places” opportunities, where employees swap positions or sometimes just do job shadow for a certain period of time, weeks or months. This enables them to discover whether they would like to work in that area, which in turn allows them to make a more informed choice about their next career move.
This is beneficial from two perspectives: it allows people to understand other components of the organisation and also from a career fostering point of view, as it helps them to understand if they are in the right area, or if they would benefit from internal mobility.
We have measured employee satisfaction levels with our training programmes and in general, our employees feel that they have positively contributed to their professional development. Nevertheless, these programmes are just one part of what we put in place to support our employees’ careers, because people learn more through challenging opportunities, additional projects and fresh job responsibilities.
Q: Training is a key aspect of SWIFT’s culture of cultivating talent. How do you build talent management programmes?
A: We take two things into account. Firstly, the main objective of our talent programmes is to foster connections between teams and individuals from different geographies, levels or departments. This is why we have talent programs throughout the entire hierarchy and geographical range of SWIFT. We also tailor the programs to ensure they meet the specific needs of the participants, such as middle managers, new joiners and future executives.
Secondly, the world of SWIFT is highly technical and specialised. We use our talent programs to allow staff to discover the other parts of SWIFT and to build connections across the company structure. This also prevents silo thinking.
Q: Is it important for you to be proactive in identifying and cultivating leaders within your existing talent pool? Or is it important to have a balance?
A: More than half of our future leaders come from within the company, through the promotion of current employees and the rest are recruited externally. We also track and compare the success of both internally promoted and externally recruited leaders. On the whole, internally promoted leaders tend to benefit from having a good understanding of SWIFT’s unique company culture. At the same time, as a company, you also need to make sure that you challenge your modus operandi. If we only sourced new leaders from within, we would clearly limit our ability to evolve our way of working.
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Read the first part of the interview: Cultivating tomorrow’s leaders at SWIFT.