Courteville grooms next generation leadership

Seventeen young managers have completed the gruelling Middle Management Training (MMT) Level 1 program organized by Courteville Business Solutions Plc. The 9-month long intensive program, the first in a tiered series, was conceived to identify and nurture budding in-house talent to fill leadership positions at the fast-growing e-business solutions and business process outsourcing company.

At a convocation ceremony held last Thursday, Adebola Akindele, Courteville’s Group Managing Director, expressed his satisfaction with the progress made by the graduates.

In his commencement address, Akindele harped on the need for companies to develop a deep management bench by identifying and investing in future leaders early. He cited Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group’s employee retention mantra as the company’s guiding principle. To train people well enough so they can leave, and treat them well enough so they do not want to.

He told guests at the event that Courteville’s ambition is to become one of the two best places to work in West Africa. In line with this aspiration, a Trust Index (TI) survey recently carried out by Great Place to Work Nigeria attested to Courteville’s prime ranking among global and local IT solutions companies.

Courteville, which turns 11 in January, is facing increasing demands for premium grade personnel as it embarks on an international expansion program and introduction of new suites in its diversified services portfolio.

Early this year, an independent HR audit commissioned by the company, commended Courteville for putting in place innovative staff engagement activities, mentoring practices and a transparent employee evaluation policy. The audit also revealed a dumbbell in the staffing structure. The discovery of a thin middle management cadre and the board’s desire for a robust succession plan served as the inspiration for the MMT.

The basic idea behind Courteville’s MMT is to offer a fast-track leadership development training internally to promising young employees that would enable them transition to roles of greater responsibility at an accelerated rate. The decision to run the program in-house, a path less taken by most companies, was taken to maintain Courteville’s cultural DNA, save costs, and strengthen a sense of stake-ownership among promising young employees.

In total, the curriculum consisted 14 rigorous courses. It covered areas as diverse as Emotional Intelligence, Presentation Skills, Performance Management, Financial Investment, Operations Management, Team Building, and, of course, Human Capital Management.

In addition to the courses, the program incorporated a number of unique elements. GMD-for-a-Day exposed the course participants to the work of the group managing director. A participant would be selected to fill in the role of the GMD for a day, sit at his desk, answer his calls, respond to his emails, attend his meetings, and deal with issues that arise on that day. It was a pressure-filled eye opener on the demands of leadership for all 17 participants. An Entrepreneurship Series invited distinguished business leaders to share their experiences with the participants. Some notable speakers include Chidi Anyaegbu, founder of Chisco Group of Companies, Akinsowon Dawodu, chief executive officer of Citibank Nigeria, and Yetunde Allen, chief executive officer of Clean Business Practice Initiative.

Two leadership consulting and training firms, Leadership Development Consulting and Long Strides Associates played significant roles in conceptualizing and facilitating the program.

Wale Oyenekan, the Managing Consultant of Long Strides Associates, described the MMT’s goal as ‘a complete immersion in a transformational experience to produce high impact outcomes’. He remarked that trainings like these are rare among companies in Nigeria, and especially impressive for a company of Courteville’s size. The company has 100 full time employees.

Ken Njoku, Managing Partner at Leadership Development Consulting, said the aim was to help the future leaders ‘to understand how their daily functional roles fit into the grand scheme and vision of Courteville.’ He stressed the importance of transitioning the candidates into a ‘business-oriented mindset.’

The top 3 MMT graduates received plaques and cash gifts at the convocation. Joanna Ogini, of the Legal unit, had the best result overall. With her on the podium were Olutosin Kalejaiye, an enterprise software developer, and Mariam Adebimpe of the Accounts department. They took the 2nd and 3rd positions respectively. Ogini, who put to bed a baby boy during the training, expressed her gratitude to the company for giving her this opportunity. The MMT brought out the best in her, she said.

According to the company, the graduates would proceed to the second stage of MMT in 2016. Concurrently, a new batch of 25 future young leaders would be enrolled in Level 1.


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