A successful first run, to be repeated in autumn 2018.
Cergy, July 5th, 2018 – SPIE, the independent European leader in multi-technical services in the areas of energy and communications, has just completed the first run of its “digital reverse mentoring” programme. Over a period of six months, 51 members of the Group’s and its subsidiaries’ executive committees benefited from guidance in digital practices and tools, given by young managers singled out within SPIE. Feedback on this innovative initiative, which will be repeated in autumn 2018.
SPIE’s “reverse mentoring” programme was introduced in spring 2017, aimed at the Group’s senior management, with a focus on digital transformation. The objective was twofold: to develop a pool of talents by drawing on the support of young managers, and to promote the digital culture within SPIE, targeting executive committee members in particular. “What’s really valuable and interesting about this approach was that my mentor, Célia, could bring me her knowledge of the digital world and her view of everything that's new and that we don’t necessarily see when in a position of high responsibility”, says Cédric Perier, Managing Director of SPIE ICS, whose mentoring partner, Célia Vagaggini, is a unified communications and networks architect in the same subsidiary. Given the digital culture, agility and enthusiasm for digital tools that naturally prevail among SPIE’s junior managers, it seemed entirely appropriate to reverse the relationship for transferring knowledge in a mentoring experience, as part of a digital training process.
A total of 51 mentoring partnerships were formed for this first run of the programme, each made up of a junior manager and a member of the Group’s or its European subsidiaries’ executive committees. “The mentors and their mentees were paired based on their needs and expectations, identified by means of a questionnaire. Overall, 60% of senior management wished to be trained in social networks and other everyday digital tools as a priority. 20% chose to look at matters related to digital projects developed within SPIE, and lastly, 20% expressed an interest in more technical issues, such as connected devices”, says Alexandra Raimbault, Group HR Development Manager, in charge of this programme.
Before starting to provide guidance to their mentee for six months, from June to December 2017, the junior managers went on a one-day training course to learn how to assume the position of mentor. The tone was set: a meeting lasting one and a half hours, once a month, with preparation done beforehand. Thijs Broes, a Project Manager at SPIE Belgium, looks back at those conversations: “For the mentee, it’s valuable to have an identified resource person to whom you can put the questions you daren't raise or to which you normally can't devote enough time or attention, despite these being issues you encounter on a daily basis. It’s the ideal time to discuss them and to seek solutions together.”
The participants gave a positive assessment of this initial trial of the programme. The operation will be repeated in autumn 2018. “This role is very fulfilling for a young manager, both professionally and personally. The mentor and mentee learn from each other in regard to other matters besides digital themes”, notes Jolien Driesen, HR Remuneration and Benefits Consultant at SPIE Nederland. It’s a great springboard for strengthening your network or seeking professional support at a later stage. The senior managers chosen already had sound digital knowledge; the spirit of the programme was really about helping them to increase their skills and build relevant digital practices into their everyday work. That’s a challenge taken up by Cédric Perier who says, in conclusion: “This programme gave me a better understanding of the digital trends and challenges, in our business areas too: connected objects, the cloud, big data, etc. But above all, it was really a monthly breath of fresh air for me.”
With the digital reverse mentoring programme, SPIE is improving digital competences from within the organisation. Already 55 pairings have been set up between young digital talents as mentors and members of the Group and subsidiaries’ executive committees. The mentors share their experiences of the project.
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