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Ensuring Future Leadership

A recently developed program at FedEx is designed to foster a shared, enterprisewide perspective among high-potential vice presidents. The program features strategic business briefings from senior-level officials as well as sessions on strategy design, innovation and talent development.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009
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Early in the decade, FedEx recognized that, as the global enterprise diversified and matured, it needed to develop a pipeline of talented vice president-level executives who would ensure future leadership bench strength.

Seven separate companies operate under the FedEx brand worldwide: FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, FedEx Freight, FedEx Office, FedEx Custom Critical, FedEx Trade Networks and FedEx Services. Internationally, FedEx Express is divided into four regions, each with its own management team.

Despite the differences in name or geographical location, however, FedEx team members are committed to providing the same high quality of service to every customer.

While each FedEx company and region has now identified a group of high-potential executives within its own structure, taking it to the next level required developing an effective way to communicate common values and goals, and to build closer relationships among those executives.

FedEx recently developed and rolled out the EXCEL program for high-potential vice presidents to foster a shared, enterprisewide perspective among participants. The program features strategic business briefings from operating company CEOs and executive vice presidents, sessions on strategy design, innovation, executive presence and talent development. 

Participants work as a team to solve a significant business challenge designed so they must operate out of their comfort zone.  The six months spent in the program results in the formation of powerful networks that enable participants to be even more collaborative and effective in accomplishing business objectives. 

The benefits of these connections extend well beyond the end of the program.  Participants consistently walk away with a much more aligned understanding of the company as well as a set of common tools that they can use to navigate the complexities of managing a global enterprise. 

An alumni network -- FedEx EXCEL graduates -- is created once the training sessions end and is used to facilitate communication and further the training?s effectiveness.

That alumni network is committed to outlining actions they will take to continue their development and following up with "accountability partners" on a regular basis to discuss progress.

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They also participate in a variety of alumni-related calls and meetings, including:

* Follow-up calls to track progress on their strategic business challenge proposal;

* Sharing insight on how each is applying the experience in their work teams.  Examples include leveraging other alumni to speak to their work groups about their areas/key initiatives and ideas for sharing learning content at lower levels; and

* Planning for follow-up/reunion events;

The alumni network also supports future EXCEL programs by providing feedback on program plans for the next round of EXCEL participants and serving as "alumni guides" (peer mentors).

They also play a part in the next round "kick-off" by meeting with participants and sharing suggestions for how to get the most out of the program.

Though not yet implemented, we are considering holding an "Alumni Summit" that would bring all alumni back together in a special session. The summit would cover new content and provide executives with additional networking time.

Judy Edge is corporate vice president for human resources at FedEx Corp.

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