After one year in the Global Enterprise Services Leadership Development Program (GESLDP), I wanted to share my thoughts about this uncommon full-time job. It is uncommon because, as you will read below, I rotate every few months, I network extensively outside my functional group, and in a year, I know I will need to find another job. This blog post is about the program, my experience, and the development opportunities I have had, so those three words will be reiterated many times throughout this post.
Most Fortune 500 companies have implemented leadership development programs as a way to attract high potential recent graduates and accelerate their career paths to become a new generation of leaders. At EMC, we have many of these programs: IT, HR, GES, Finance, Marketing, Business Ops., etc. Each program coordinates a rigorous screening and hiring process domestically and globally to select the next class of participants and the company’s future leaders. This talent strategy allows the company to attract top talent and fast-track recent graduates who quickly learn that once they start, there is no time to rest on their laurels.
“Networking, networking, networking” and “Nothing happens until you write it down”
Those were some of the first lessons the Global Enterprise Services LDP class Program Director told us in the 2013 New Hire Orientation. Over the course of two years, program participants rotate into different areas within GES. So far, the sixteen of us that joined in 2013 have had at least two different rotational managers in different areas and in different roles. One of the key aspects of development while in the program is that you never feel too comfortable in your role. You need to adapt and be ready for change.
Back in July last year I started working with Kenny Loo, a great kickball player and an even better manager with a deep knowledge of EMC and the CS area. I learned all about VSPEX, our different solutions and the Regatta Lifecycle. For my second rotation I wanted to understand the challenges that a fast growing region experiences such as Latin America, APJ or any of the BRIC countries. For that purpose, under the leadership of Eleonora Ferrari and Santiago Belaustegui, I have supported remotely the Professional Services organization in Latin America and experienced the entrepreneurial and results-oriented mentality of the team. For my third rotation, at the beginning of July I relocated to the Bay Area to work for Pivotal PS@EMC to help them with reporting around sales forecasts, revenue, booking, utilization and anything the management team led by Chris Birtwhistle needs to better track their business. My motivation for this move has been experiencing the start-up kind of work style where there is always a lot of work to do and not many processes in place while comparing the cultural differences working out of the Pivotal offices in Palo Alto and San Francisco.
You could ask, “What’s the point of rotating people so fast? They are never going to perfect anything. They are never going to be high performers in their teams.” Using the Situational Leadership Theory to analyze the GESLDPer in terms of individual development (see image), you will see that during each rotation a person will go from a D1 stage where they are highly committed but have low competency to a D3 level at best. Imagine the capacity to adapt, learn, and look for ways to add value for a person that rotates three of four times over the period of two years. At the same time, the business unit gets the benefit of having an extra resource in the short term and the company will get the largest benefit in a longer term, when we graduate.
You have read my rotational experiences, but that is only me. Imagine close to thirty people having these experiences and sharing them with the rest of the group. What makes this group an extraordinary team and a great place to work is that although you rarely work with other people in the program, they are your support group because they are facing everything you are going through, and they have the same energy and motivation to leave a mark. We develop such good relationships that it is not uncommon for us to organize trips together, practice sports together, or meet in the city during the weekend.
Following that thought, it is important to note that being part of a program, we are in parallel helping to build bridges between different EMC groups that are traditionally not visibly connected. In a way, we are a social tool and, in my opinion, this is one of our key assets. EMC is developing employees that are not strictly focused on their daily jobs and the tasks at hand, but developing employees with insights into different areas of the company and the ability to move horizontally. We meet with other managers in other business units, participate in different employee circles such as the Women Leadership Forum or EMC Latin Leadership Interest Team, consult for some of the winning projects in EMC’s Innovation Challenge and take part in multiple social initiatives.
It is important to me to point out that the program provides structure for coaching and mentorship, but in the end you are responsible for leading your own career. This aspect of the program is what makes it a true development program and is one of the best characteristics of the GESLDP. The program has some structure in terms of the duration of the rotation; though after the participant’s first rotation, he or she needs to network extensively and find his or her next opportunity, including a rotation outside corporate. You are not told that after one rotation where you learn “X”, now you must learn “Y”. With guidance from the program, your development is in your hands and you have the freedom to create rotation opportunities that are unique to you and your interests. What all GESLDP participants have in common is that at the end of the program, we have experienced different leadership styles from each rotational manager, the functional areas of GES, and different environments working with small or large groups that can be either local or remote. Some managers are very hands-on, some are great mentors, and others will be very hands-off in a go-find-out-yourself mode. This flexibility and variability in experiences makes the program a developmental one instead of a training program.
Our final assignment in the program is finding a full time position. After all our hard work and networking, we have made connections with senior leaders and have experience in CS, PS, Portfolio, Marketing, the partners’ organization, finance, you name it. We have experience in Corporate and in the field. We know where the opportunities are in the company and that it is time to consider where we will have a larger impact in the organization. It is time for us to become high performing D4s – highly committed and highly competent.
This blog post is dedicated to the 2014 graduating class, to Paula Spears, and Leslie Russell, who have mentored us this last year, and to wish the best to our new manager, Mark Aguiar, and the new talented group of GESLDPers that has just joined us.