Building communities, breaking down silos and speaking a common language: how Hager Group is preparing for the future

Family-owned electrical installations company Hager Group employs around 12,000 people across the globe. Its ambition is to lead its sector into tomorrow’s electrical world – and it wants to enter new markets outside Europe. Critical to achieving the company’s goals is its learning partnership with Vlerick.

Vlerick Learning Festival 2019

Chief Group HR Officer Franck Houdebert sets the scene: “Several years ago, Hager Group started a transformation journey to go from being a product-oriented organisation to a more agile, solution-oriented business,” he says. “To achieve this, we knew we needed to adopt new ways of working and gain a new mindset.

“We decided to focus on leadership. We redesigned our leadership framework to reflect where we want our organisation to be in the future. Then in Vlerick, we found the partner to train and develop our managers.”


In 2017, Vlerick started working with Hager to co-design a customised, blended learning journey. This became Leading Into the Future Together (LIFT) – a programme for Hager’s top 400 managers.

Franck says: “It was important that we could count on the learning partner we chose. With Vlerick there was no off-the-shelf solution. They took the time to understand us and our objectives and collaborate with us – we really appreciated that. I truly consider them a partner.

Virginie Dagnet, Group Talent Management Director, agrees. “Vlerick is extremely customer-centric,” she says. “The degree of customisation they offer is really strong – we worked as a team to co-build LIFT from the start. Vlerick’s people have great ideas and are always keen to get feedback and improve the programme as much as possible.”


The leadership framework is central to LIFT, and Vlerick worked closely with the team at Hager to create highly relevant content that would bring it to life. Digital Learning Manager Arnaud Atibard feels this approach is hugely beneficial.

“A customised programme means participants have the opportunity to take the content and tools and use them directly in their roles,” he says. “Of course, you can explain strategy in general – but when you add what it means to Hager, it becomes much more valuable.”

This approach is already paying off for LIFT participants. Product Marketing Manager Sebastian Haak is using much of what he learned – including design thinking and cross-function working. He says: “I’ve involved my team in my LIFT journey from day one. After every module I shared interesting and relevant learnings with them – and now we are using them in new projects. It’s all about putting it into practice.”


Another vital part of the journey is the online platform that means Hager can train people across the world at the same time.

“In terms of transformation, speed is of the essence,” says Virginie. “We wanted to reach high numbers of managers quickly – and you can’t have 100 people in a classroom all the time. Online was the answer.

“Aside from being flexible, the digital platform is helping us implement the kind of learning culture we want at Hager. People have to take responsibility for their own learning and have to make time to participate in group activities – it’s changing mindsets.”

Sebastian says: “I appreciated the flexibility of online. The technology makes it easier to maintain the right balance of work and learning. You’re studying alongside your regular role so you need to manage your time – but setting priorities is all part of a manager’s job. I was happy to take time out of my personal life to learn because LIFT is such a valuable opportunity.”

The online element of LIFT has also connected people who might never have worked together otherwise. Carole Colin, Learning Program Manager, believes this is a great way to boost innovation. “We mix the online groups in terms of age, gender, nationality and position in the company,” she says. “We’ve seen that these diverse groups produce greater ideas. And of course, it helps to break down silos and move us closer to being a truly global organisation.”


Around 250 managers have now taken part in LIFT – and a common language, way of working and mindset is starting to emerge across the organisation.

“LIFT has empowered managers,” says Franck. “People are no longer sitting back and asking, ‘What do you want us to do?’ They’re asking questions. More and more, they’re making suggestions and developing their own initiatives.

“Leadership is key to helping us prepare for the future. We want to build a community of leaders who will help us move forward. LIFT is showing us we’re on the right track.”

Arnaud adds: “When people participate in LIFT, they become aware of our challenges, objectives and the journey Hager is on. They know what we mean by transformation – and they’re now ready to help us get there.”


The final LIFT cohort starts in November – but this is only the beginning for Hager. The organisation is already discussing the next generation of LIFT with Vlerick’s customised team. And the impact of the wide-ranging programme is amplifying across the company.

Sebastian has seen a change in his fellow participants. “Everyone who’s been through LIFT feels like an ambassador for the transformation journey,” he says. “It’s been a great learning opportunity and a wise investment from the company. Because now, we’re ready to take a strong step forward.”

“I’ve had conversations with people at all different levels of Hager Group,” adds Carole. “Once they’ve participated in LIFT, they’re no longer the same people. There’s a shift in mindset. These people are now sharing their knowledge – and soon, everyone at all levels of the business will have this same mindset and focus on the future.”


At Vlerick, we design and deliver learning journeys that help people make a difference in their organisations. Whether our clients want to transform organisational performance, execute strategy or strengthen operational capability, we work with them to co-create a unique, highly relevant programme. Interested in a tailored-made learning journey for your organisation? More information?
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