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Succession planning
Published on Friday, 15 Oct 2010
Ian MacLeod
Senior vice-president, human resources, AECOM
Sabrina Yuan
Human resources lead, Microsoft Hong Kong

Ian MacLeod
Senior vice-president, human resources, AECOM

The plan  

In the past year, we have taken a more aggressive approach to succession planning. As AECOM has grown globally, our leadership team has always looked to promote from within as a first option, but that now includes taking a global perspective. Previously, we might only have considered people working for us in local and regional markets, but today we look across the entire organisation. The aim is to develop good succession planning in every division to produce leaders with a broad outlook and an extensive understanding of the work and approach of the organisation. We are therefore open to moving people around and providing the necessary exposure.  

Target  

Our process is for senior leaders to recommend individuals they think would be well-suited as successors. These names are then presented to the executive management team for consideration. The team may modify and update the provisional plan as the year progresses, and business requirements and priorities change. We now have succession plans for business divisions and different geographical areas. They don't necessarily overlap, but we do share information.  

Training  

Right now, we are launching an executive development programme in fiscal year 2010. It is for a relatively small group of 20 to 25 high-potential individuals we see as successors for people in our leadership programme. The aim is to groom executives to fill the most senior positions in the organisation. In addition, we will launch a two-year programme next year for other potential leaders. It will focus on three learning strategies - knowledge-based, project-based and executive coaching.


Sabrina Yuan
Human resources lead, Microsoft Hong Kong

The plan

Microsoft's culture is based on our people. Their passion and creative energy are largely responsible for our success. Professional development is an important part of every employee's experience. It includes training, mentoring, online tools and resources, and special programmes to develop managers and the next generation of leaders. All of this is vital for building business success with a forward-looking philosophy. We are investing heavily in people managers to ensure they have the right competencies and experiences.

Target

The company has a systematic process for succession planning and management. It involves quarterly and annual performance reviews, which we integrate with succession planning, leadership development and other talent initiatives. Underlying this, we have a 70:20:10 learning model, with roughly those percentages of on-the-job development, peer coaching and classroom learning, respectively. When identifying high-potential staff, we look for individuals with aspiration, ability and a commitment to leading others. In building a pipeline for key executive roles, we seek feedback from different parties and get input from the senior management team.  

Training

The aim of the comprehensive high-potential programme is to accelerate talent development. It can last for about a year and career mentoring is an important component. The focus is on employees helping each other develop professionally and personally. Mentors share their knowledge, experience and insights to guide colleagues towards specific goals. With its world-class talent development structure, Microsoft was ranked first among international companies in a recent HR survey of best employers in China.