Valpeo Blog

How Sappi is transforming its high potentials into agile leaders

Accord Group, a Valpeo accredited partner, recently helped global renewable resource company Sappi to screen its high potentials alongside the development of a Global Leadership Programme. Why did Sappi choose Valpeo’s unique methodology and what was the outcome? 

In what industry does Sappi operate?

Sappi is a global diversified wood fiber company, which has over 12,800 employees and operates in more than 35 countries. It produces dissolving pulp, packaging and speciality papers, and graphic papers, as well as biomaterials and biochemicals.

What was their business challenge?

In order to embrace changing market demands and unleash the full potential of employees, Sappi’s leaders must be agile in their mindsets and behaviors. Sappi therefore decided to design a Global Leadership Programme (GLP) to help high potentials develop leadership skills for their future roles, but because such a programme requires significant investment, it is critical to fully understand the needs of high potentials before designing the GLP, and that’s where Accord Group and Valpeo’s methodology came in.

How did Sappi get in touch with Valpeo?

In 2019, Sappi’s interest was sparked by Valpeo’s assessment model, which is built upon three complementary assessments (Complexity, Values and Behavioral Orientation). A group of senior leaders from Sappi’s global HR Team completed a pilot assessment project to evaluate Valpeo’s approach. They found the orientation surveys to be a valuable source of insights into people and chose it as the ‘core assessment methodology’ to screen participants ahead of the coming GLP. The pilot also allowed senior leaders to gain experience with the new approach, so they could provide better coaching to high potentials within their own region.

What exactly is Valpeo’s unique approach?

Valpeo believes that organizations cannot predict the future success of leaders by only focusing on their behavior. While behavior can be successful in some contexts, it can be problematic in others. Valpeo’s more holistic methodology considers:
●       Complexity orientation: at what level of complexity will a high potential be able to add value, both now and in the future?
●       Values orientation: to what degree do a high potential’s values match with his/her future contexts?
●       Behavioral orientation: will a high potential’s behavior be successful in new contexts?

Specifically, how did Accord Group proceed with Valpeo’s methodology?

The assessments (a combination of online surveys and virtual interviews) were followed up with individual feedback sessions with Valpeo accredited consultants.

What was the outcome for Sappi?

Different career paths were suggested for the participants, ranging from broader operational management roles to an international role at C-level. Candidates also received insights to help them optimize their professional growth.

Valpeo’s insights were used to create a tailor-made Global Leadership Programme that focused on corporate strategy, change and leadership. The programme was organized in cooperation with business schools from different regions.

“Being able to understand people’s values is very helpful when trying to make sense of where someone’s career could be headed,” explains Marina Rubbrecht, Director Organization & Leadership Development Europe at Sappi. “The same applies to their ability to handle complexity: Sappi’s future is agile, and our future leaders will have to be able to handle the challenges that agility brings. One of the participants in the Global Leadership Programme has already taken up a senior leadership role, so we are on the right track to discovering and developing new talent. Valpeo has helped us to make sure that future Global Leadership Programmes are equally effective.”.

How do the participants themselves look back on the process?

The feedback covered the values and concerns of the candidates. Consultants helped them become more self-aware of how values influenced their leadership style, and suggested ways to adapt certain styles of behavior to become more effective leaders.

Jan Sander van Tuijl, Vice-president Supply Chain & Procurement, was very satisfied: “Valpeo’s development center provided me with insights into who I am, what level of complexity suits me, and what values drive me. The development center also showed that I was ready for a role with a wider scope and a higher level of complexity. I have since been promoted. My new role suits me well and allows me to contribute more to the success of Sappi.”

Would you like to find out more about how Valpeo’s methodology could be implemented in your organization? Get in touch with us today.