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Case Study: Sabic

Becoming the world’s most preferred chemicals provider requires a world-class workforce. Eduardo Pérez Cejuela, senior director of HR for Asia Pacific at SABIC, speaks to Aditi Sharma Kalra about building both capacity and capability.

At SABIC, the senior leadership team recognises how critical talent development is to achieving success, making it one of the company’s four key elements to its long-term growth strategy.

However, it’s also aware employees at different stages in their careers will have different development needs.

“Our employment value proposition is developed for three broad audience bands – employees at the start of their careers, middle managers and senior managers,” says senior director of HR Eduardo Pérez Cejuela.

Each band has its own customised curriculum focusing on change management, change leadership, coaching and training.

What remains common regardless of levels is the relevant action plans carried out for employee development.

“It is our belief a wide, yet deep-reaching approach is vital to ensure operations’ continuity, and also to future-proof our business,” he says.

He takes the example of middle managers being groomed as successors for senior leadership roles, using the talent review process. This spans business units and functions, helping the team to identify talent, reward and reinforce top performance, as well as evaluate organisational effectiveness and functional excellence.

“It provides us with a common language, tool and approach to mobilise talent across businesses, and build a conducive environment and a thriving culture for high performers across the company.”

This approach equips managers with the qualities common to strong senior leaders such as strategic focus, solid business acumen and a keen interest in mentorship and empowerment.

“With globalisation permeating the workplace, there is more demand for leaders with a truly multinational and multicultural perspective, and who can move seamlessly between different markets and time zones, and appreciate the social nuances of each.”

Given SABIC’s wide geographical reach and product diversity, feeding this demand comes naturally.

“Intercultural adaptability, global team-building, global strategic thinking, and the ability to lead cross-national teams made up of individuals from different cultures, are some capabilities that can only be honed through global assignments.

“At SABIC, we have a long-standing policy of assigning our top talent to different parts of the world to give them the opportunity to develop such skills and prepare them for senior leadership roles.”

This kind of perspective towards development not only furthers employees’ careers, but creates a pool of internal talent for the organisation to tap into.

SABIC has a clear commitment to its employees to fill positions first through internal promotion.

“We are also prepared to look outside and acquire good talent who can strengthen the value-creating capability of our organisation.”

Both types of recruitment, internal and external, are enabled by the HR strategy, which sits within the broader business strategy.

“Alignment of objectives puts everyone on the same page and creates strong ties between internal business partners, all levels of staff and across the senior leadership team.”

A training foundation

Behind any talent management strategy is a strong training foundation, and this is also the case at SABIC. The company’s learning and development curriculum is kept up to date and robust based on feedback from employees and the senior leadership team.

“Assessment of employee development forms a key part of our talent management process, where relevant training is matched to development needs.”

Complementing this is the SABIC Academy, a repository of the organisation’s collective innovation and knowledge that helps to train people to imbibe the SABIC mindset and culture.

“It is more than just a facility that conducts training programmes. It is where our employees can experience challenging dialogue with colleagues from different cultures. It is designed to be an eye-opening transformation that makes them more effective as SABIC expands globally.”

Main feature: Plugging the holes in your talent pipeline

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