We give all Associates the opportunity to achieve their full potential and make their jobs more than a day-to-day routine. We want Associates to have a long, rewarding career with us, and we are proud that in 2011 more than two thirds of management positions were filled internally.
Approximately 70 percent of an Associate's learning and development takes place on the job. About 20 percent more comes from additional coaching and mentoring by line managers and, in many cases, professional coaches. The remaining 10 percent of learning and development is through courses and training.
The Essence of Mars
All new Associates’ learning begins with Essence of Mars training. This introduces them to our Five Principles and explains how to apply them to their work and business decisions. The training is available worldwide in 22 languages. Our target is for all new Associates to receive the Essence of Mars training within six months of starting at the company. In 2011, we trained 43 percent of Associates within their first six months and 72 percent within their first 12 months.
Mars University provides a framework for all the learning and development opportunities we provide. The University has ten functional colleges and a leadership college.
The courses help to build the critical tools and capabilities we need to reach our business goals, to reinforce what we think is most important about our culture and to equip Associates with the practical skills to thrive in a dynamic and challenging environment. Focus areas include:
Embedding the Five Principles in our business
Developing strong leaders
Building capabilities and expertise to address specific business challenges
Sharing ideas and best practices
In 2011, more than 40 percent of Associates received training and education through Mars University. The percentage of Associates using E-learning increased from two percent to 10 percent. During the year, we launched ‘One Mars University’, an initiative to improve the learning opportunities on offer by creating easy-to-access, equal and consistent learning opportunities across regions and functions. We reduced and simplified our programs to make them more specific and relevant to our critical business challenges. Modifications include a workshop called ‘Bringing Sustainability to Life’, which helps buyers link sustainability with their sourcing strategies and set relevant metrics. A new global college brochure provides every Associate with course information, making it easier to understand what training is available. We also created a new look and feel for the Mars University brand to reflect its core purpose. The enhancements won the Best in Branding award at the Corporate University Xchange 13th Annual Awards.
To meet the business challenges of the future we seek to recruit, nurture and develop the brightest talent. We believe that the people best qualified to run our business in the future are already Mars Associates. Our leadership development programs focus on building capability in six areas to help Associates become successful leaders, whether they are managing people for the first time or moving into a more senior role.
We have a strong commitment to developing great line managers. To deliver this promise we launched Leadership@Mars, a three-part course that helps managers develop the skills they need at different points on their journey to senior leadership. It is designed to equip all managers with the same cultural understanding, capabilities, competencies and behaviors.
We launched part I of the course globally in January 2011, part II in January 2012, and we are currently piloting part III. Part I is the foundation of leadership, arming new line managers with the knowledge and skills to enhance the engagement and performance of every associate. Part II strengthens the skills and abilities of experienced line managers, and part III trains mid-level leaders to apply creative and analytical skills to solve increasingly difficult business challenges.
We use targeted programs to accelerate the development and performance of specific groups of Associates, such as high-potential Associates, Line Managers and General Managers.
Senior Leadership at Mars provides an introduction to the skills and perspectives required for senior leaders to succeed in the business. Mars Leadership at the Peak gives senior leaders an opportunity to better understand the strengths and areas for development in their personal leadership style. The program helps to motivate leaders and explore the legacy they want to create. It is run by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL).
Leading in Unprecedented Times focuses on the key debates, tensions and strategic choices facing Mars, Incorporated. These include investing in sustainability to maintain a successful business, and balancing the need for consistent operations with local needs. It provides management teams with the opportunity to apply lessons through discussions of case studies.
In 2011, we trained 85 internal facilitators and 1,500 line managers through Leadership@Mars, providing a total of 167,038 hours training. By 2013, the curriculum will offer one of the most rigorous and comprehensive leadership development programs in the world. We benchmark our performance against others through the Corporate University Xchange, an education research and consulting firm, the Executive Networks, an organization that brings peer companies together, and use research reports from Bersin & Associates, a people management research and advisory company.
The program is already gaining recognition. In 2011, Mars Russia was recognized as one of the three best companies for developing leaders by the Center on Analytics and Research Amplua Insights. Our leadership program was recognized as ‘Exemplary’ at the annual Corporate University Xchange Awards for Excellence and Innovation.
Q&A with Terry Allan, SEEDS OF CHANGE® Product Development Manager
Mars has enabled Terry to realize her desire to promote sustainable farming on a global scale.
How has your career path at Mars evolved?
My initial assignment for Mars was as a contractor, planting and evaluating seed variety trials on organic farms in California to support the product development process. In 2009 I was hired as Product Development and Sales Coordinator and in July 2011, I was promoted to Product Development Manager for the SEEDS OF CHANGE® 100 percent certified organic seeds division.
How has Mars helped your career development?
When I decided to become an organic farmer 20 years ago I wanted to demonstrate by example that producing healthy, abundant food organically was not only possible, but is the direction that conventional agriculture needs to go to become sustainable.
Working for SEEDS OF CHANGE® has given me the opportunity to spread this message and share my findings far beyond my local farmers’ market. I have designed and set up organic farms from Chile to India and all over the U.S. and have trained hundreds of people (in three different languages) how to grow organically.
What has been your most memorable experience at Mars so far?
I participated in the Mars Ambassador Program Community Gardening assignment in South Africa. It was an amazing experience! South Africa is exciting, incredibly beautiful and inspiring.
The more glimpses I get into the wide world of Mars, the more I appreciate working for an employer with such a dynamic, value-driven culture that provides opportunities for developing Associates’ talents, and importantly, sharing them with a broader community.