Taking middle managers to a higher level

VESUVIUS Wings training programme

How do you create a team of passionate, capable middle managers in a 100% technical environment? As a world-class steel manufacturer, Vesuvius may be very proficient at what it does but its middle management needed some help. Vlerick Business School provided the right input with its Vesuvius Wings training programme.

Vesuvius is a specialised supplier of operating material to the steel and foundry industries. The company is one of the largest players worldwide, operating in 36 countries with a workforce of 11,800 employees. While these employees are all passionate about their jobs and have the required technical skills, none of them had proven or substantiated experience in middle management. Ryan van der Aa, Vice-President HR at Vesuvius: ‘A few years ago, we realised that if we wanted to keep our competitive edge we would have to ensure that the middle management level at our organisation is considerably strengthened. Being an international company, we soon realised that Vlerick was the right partner for us. As an international institute, it was perfectly placed to understand the nature of our company. With Wings they offered us a solid training programme that addresses all the aspects of modern middle management.’

The wings to fly in modern management

In April, Vlerick organised the Wings training programme for the sixth time for an international group of 25 participants. The programme consists of a one-week journey through various management techniques. Aspects discussed include the importance of a customer-oriented mindset, leadership and team management skills, and the awareness of cultural differences and how to deal with them. The programme is also an excellent opportunity to strengthen corporate values and develop a network in the organisation. Ryan van der Aa: ‘The objective of this training programme was to boost our employees’ knowledge of modern management techniques, giving them the wings to fly, so to speak. Vlerick tailored the programme to the needs of our organisation, filling the existing gaps.’

Noticeable evolution

The first training programme was organised in 2012. Since then, several Vesuvius employees have completed the Wings training programme, and the difference is noticeable. Ryan van der Aa: ‘As more and more people are following the training programme, we have also begun to notice that they are increasingly starting to speak the same language. Specific terms and concepts are used all over the world, which greatly simplifies communication and our day-to-day operations. In addition to this, middle management is now paying much more attention to the development of our employees and to marketing. And last but not least, we are seeing a shift in emphasis in our customer approach from the product itself to the value we add to the processes at the customer end.’

A flexible approach, better results

Vesuvius felt it was very important to establish a permanent, continuous relationship with Vlerick. As this was not a one-off programme, flexibility and engagement were vital. Ryan van der Aa: ‘While training institutes can be very good at what they teach, they sometimes lack an insight into how the business world actually operates. Vlerick, however, has a strong connection with the business community, which is apparent in the training programme they offer. They keep up with the latest developments in this community, are willing to adapt the content of their seminars where necessary and are closely involved in the impact of the results for our company. This means the programme’s quality is guaranteed every step of the way, which obviously engenders a high level of confidence. It will come as no surprise that participants in the programme have been very enthusiastic about it over the years. The fact that they promote Wings within the organisation afterwards is the best proof of this.

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