Durable training to support organisational growth | SDA Bocconi School of Management

Durable training to support organisational growth

The Project

ABB is a global leader of technology for energy and automation. It is present in over 100 countries and employs approximately 150,000 people. Its mission is the development of projects and applications of crucial importance to the well-being of humanity and for the protection of our planet. It is characterized by a strong propensity for innovation and a strong sense of social responsibility, coupled with a marked vocation for the enhancement of multiculturalism and valuable professional skills.

The partnership between ABB and SDA Bocconi first started in 1991, with the aim of supporting and reinforcing the organisation in the wake of the Group's growth after the merger between the Swedish ASEA and Swiss BBC (Brown, Boveri & Cie).

In light of this situation, the Group has a constant need to spread and establish roots for instruments and skills essential for tackling all the competitive challenges typically faced by a a global organisation, while also forging a common managerial culture and a strong sense of belonging.

Target people within the group are young, recently hired resources, followed by growing talents, with an eye to developing continuous training that guarantees constant updating and stimulations.

ABB and SDA Bocconi tackled the dual challenge of developing a project coherent with the company's values, while also capable of starting a process of high visible impact change, at an individual and organisational level, with extensive support at all levels both from the School and ABB.

"When we started up this strategic project dedicated to future managers of the group, we chose the best Italian business school with the strongest international appeal, SDA Bocconi. Year after year, the partnership between ABB and SDA Bocconi has increasingly consolidated and enhanced itself, enabling constant course updates in hand with corporate organisational and business scenario evolutions.
Thanks to the excellence of teachers and the School's international approach, the transition from a national programme to its extension to the entire Mediterranean area seemed like a  natural thing".
Silvia Parma, Country HR Manager ABB Italy

“The cultural challenge, implicit when faced with a team of 30 people from all over Europe, was one of the best experiences I have ever had”.
Giuseppe Morimondi – MED Passport 2010 - Group IS Service Manager

Starting from identified training requirements, a Steering Committee was established, including company figures (HR and different business unit managers) as well as SDA Bocconi project managers, which  designs all-embracing action. After extensive surveying activities involving different productive and staff roles, the first project was developed: ABB Passport, a year-long managerial training programme (consisting of contact time, on field projects and international assignments), aimed at twelve rigorously selected graduates.

After the programme's second edition, ABB realised that managerial skills are also crucial for young talents who have been operating within the company for some years now. The need emerged for a training programme with similar contents to Passport, but which facilitates the conciliation of programme participation with work commitments. A second project was created, once more in partnership with SDA Bocconi: ABB Lean Passport, a more concentrated Passport version, in terms of duration as well as contact time requirements, which aims to reinforce the impact on the organisation as a whole.

However, the Group's increasing globalisation also required a new approach to multiculturalism and a new integration policy, as perceived in companies located in the Mediterranean area. Based on the tried and tested Passport formula, ABB MED Passport was created, a programme developed in 9 southern European countries, now in its eight edition, with approximately 200 participants, which aims to train talents capable of being instruments of integration and of spreading ABB culture to local contexts. Its value is based above all on the right blend of theory and practice, strategic vision and operative skills, as well as specific skills for managing new scenarios.

In the Passport formula, project work is a moment of "on field" training and constitutes the fulcrum of the execution phase. Participants are required to tackle challenging assignments requiring specific skills as well as the ability to work as part of a team. The objective of projects (selected by the company and implemented after development), is to consolidate personal responsibility, planning skills, critical thought, effective communication, intercultural understanding and orientation towards results.

The ABB Passport formula range has had a high impact on the organisation's development. In 25 years of partnership, approximately 700 managers have been trained and approximately 200 individual and group projects have been completed, all this across 9 European nations. Some participants have been appointed to top international management positions in virtue of their recognised managerial and leadership skills.

The formula's success confirms that the secret to every tailored training project that is characterized by long term effectiveness and which is worthy of being described as truly "mind changing", is a solid alliance between the School and Customer, focused on objectives and strategies for their achievement. This implies a pact of trust and a collaborative relationship which recognises the complementary nature of two entities, grounded in an understanding and respect for different roles.

Some testimonials
  1. "Without a doubt there has been a useful and positive impact on my personal and above all professional growth. It has enabled me to bolster my knowledge of business administration in an international environment, where I was given the chance to reinforce relations with colleagues from different fields.
    In my current position I have been able to gain first hand experience of how acquired skills are helping me to progress, given that I have developed a natural propensity for problem solving".
    David Carera - MED Passport 2011 - Global Product Manager - Italy

    “I believe that the three major success factors of this experience are:
    - a general outlook on management: for example I for one never had to deal with financial or operative aspects, and I learnt fundamental notions of these areas which may be useful to me in the future at work;
    - the network of internal relations at a regional level (with colleagues from different countries) as well as external relations (with SDA Bocconi and the testimonials of professionals from different professional contexts);             - project work, with the chance to apply some theoretical principles to a real case".    
    Francesca Gervasoni – MED Passport 2011 – HR Manager Source & Select – Italy

    “I consider my MED Passport experience as one of the greatest gifts and opportunities I have received from ABB, as far as my training is concerned.
    Gaining a better understanding of various divisions, within a company the size of ABB, of how they interact, influence each other, as well as of their common objectives, has undoubtedly enabled me to appreciate the importance of team work.
    Last but certainly not least, I have been given the fantastic opportunity of expanding my network with my colleagues in ABB, with whom I have spent enjoyable moments, and who are now my friends".
    Valentina Valori – MED Passport 2008 - Global Design Team Manager - Italy

    “MED Passport gave me the chance to share company cases in an international environment, with different approaches based on modules taken. I extended and expanded my knowledge by acquiring different perspectives which initially were not connected to my everyday work, but which helped me to tackle complex situations by embracing a more global vision. I believe it is important and significant that many sessions were conducted by teachers from other countries. This helped me to understand and act in compliance with business models which are applied on other markets/in other countries, within a multinational company like ABB".
    Juan Pedro Gracia - MED Passport 2011 - CoE Manager - Spain

    “Today I still have positive memories of my experience in the Lean Passport project, thanks to the impressive experience of teachers, interesting topics covered in lessons, and on field training offered as part of the final project. In my professional experience, this course built the foundations for my managerial development. It enabled me to develop a more open-minded mentality, an interest in different functions and the ability to manage a team made up of people with different experiences and skills".
    Lara Cortinovis - Lean Passport 2005 - Product Manager ABB SACE - Italy

    “I took part in the Lean Passport program in 1998 and still look back on it as one of the best training and development programmes I have ever attended. Class activities, ABB managers and professors involved, along with the network I built up thanks to the programme all gave me immediate access to cultural background and skills necessary for tackling a managerial role in the most effective way. Without a doubt this experience made its mark on my personal growth and in my role as part of the Human Resources team. I am proud to say that this is the feedback we have always received from those who participated in the ABB/SDA Bocconi programme".
    Silvia Parma - Lean Passport 1998 - Country HR Manager - Italy

    “The right mix of ingredients: very professional lecturers and efficient methods, interesting topics, really relevant to our business/our company style, enriching exchanges of experiences with colleagues from different countries and/or different roles.
    I really enjoyed this program”.
    Sara Saltalamacchia - Passport 2016 - Local Product Group Manager - MUD

    “Empowering lives through knowledge and imagination is not just SDA Bocconi’s slogan, it is part of their DNA, meant to provide best-in-class learning experience”
    Ricardo Martin - Passport 2016 - ABB External Communications Manager & Public Affairs -Spain

    “The program has allowed me to understand the present and rethink the future”.
    Ilker Karabulut - Passport 2016 - Service Manager - EPES

    “ABB Passport Program is a challenging, eye-opening but also a human experience. It changed the way I see my professional environment and widened the range of opportunities within my work. But the best reward will be applying what I learnt during this program in my professional life”.
    Damien Lacoste – Passport 2016 - Ciabezuelo - Marketing Product Manager

    “Knowledge is more than a single word to me, it represents the starting point of a person’s development, of a society’s development. In the same way, SDA Bocconi is more than a simple School of Management. It is the perfect place to bring together people, knowledge and experience and discover new ways of learning and improve to create a better world”.
    Begona Calvache Gil - Passport 2016 - Sales Support Specialist

    “One long journey focused on 5 stages, where I got the opportunity to create a new network. One long journey that gave me a wealth of information and feedback useful for my carrier and my personal growth”.
    Alessandra Braga - Passport 2016 - Production Processes Manager ABB

    “Excellent business management training at the service of career and networking development in ABB”
    Ferran Soler - Passport 2016 - Sales area Manager ABB