EXPAND! 2017 – Leading into the digital age


Jointly developing management skills for the digital age was the goal of this year’s EXPAND! Advanced Leaders Program that 15 international executives successfully completed in September.

“The digital revolution is forcing us to review our management style – both internally and externally. How should we approach customers, and how can we retain young talent in the long term?” is how Nicolas Gaviria, Vice President Solutions Business North America at BekartDeslee, describes the challenges faced by executives in the digital age. This and other issues were addressed by the participants in the modular program of the Haniel Academy. They conducted interactive workshops and practical simulations in the three training modules to shed light on the many different facets of “digital leadership”. And the participants also collaborated virtually in the periods between the training sessions via the Slack platform.

The participants started off in Duisburg back in May by examining their personal action areas and the changing conditions in order to further develop their own leadership style. They then went to Berlin, the “German Silicon Valley”, where they delved into the world of start-ups and co-working spaces. Here the participants had the opportunity to get to know founders and digital experts and their working practices. In “entrepreneurial talks” with young companies such as condom manufacturer Einhorn, investor Project A, bed-in-a-box supplier Casper and carer provider Care.com, they discussed innovative business models and their success factors. “The discussion with younger colleagues made me realize how important it is that we consider how to position ourselves better today in order to remain successful executives in the future,” explains Amy Bibee, Senior Director Customer Journey at TAKKT company HUBERT. Above all, however, the idea was to reflect on the new experiences and question how and what we can learn from them in our own organizations.

This was also the starting point for the last module at the Haniel Academy focusing on the question of how the executives could successfully shape change and cultural renewal at Haniel. In an open dialogue with the CEOs of BekaertDeslee and ELG, Dirk Vandeplanke and Detlef Drafz, as well as TAKKT executive Dirk Lessing, the participants shared their experiences and discussed how the digital transformation is being promoted within the Haniel Group. Finally, change scenarios were simulated with the “Change Setter” that put the EXPAND! participants themselves in a position to act in concrete situations and experience the consequences of change. “Agility and dynamism in a digital world that is getting faster and faster are what are required,” sums up Ian Sturgess, one of the two trainers.

Having completed the program, the real work now begins for each one of the participants to apply what they have learnt in their own environment, drive changes and continuously develop further their own leadership style.