With the success of the Global Leadership Programme, it was recognised that a broader talent pipeline within DS Smith needed to be developed. DS Smith and Oxford Saïd designed and developed a programme for next level talent, called Aspire. Cohort one was run in November 2019, with three further cohorts scheduled for 2021. Sixty high potentials are now fully engaged with the programme.
The objectives of Aspire, which comprises two four-day modules in Oxford, are to:
- Help participants to succeed in future roles that will be wider and more challenging
- Develop people skills not technical knowledge
- Focus on application and provide a safe space to practice new skills
Aspire has a stronger focus on developing individuals. The programme has an innovative design that includes five tutors who work with small groups of participants during the face-to-face modules and through one-to-one support between the face-to-face elements.
During the programme, participants are divided into small ‘experiment’ teams. This enables the Oxford tutors to illustrate the theory of building high-performing teams through practical exercises designed to ‘build’ the experiment teams during the week. In doing this, participants understand the dynamics required, while also working on individual experiments, and challenging and supporting each other.
In addition to the face-to-face and learning groups, a digital learning pathway was created to support and deepen the face-to-face learning throughout the programme.
Ann-Louise Hancock said: 'The Aspire programme is focussed on developing a strong leadership pipeline for DS Smith. We need to ensure we have a good leadership capability in place across DS Smith, for our challenges now, but also as we grow, evolve and develop in the future.'