A new leadership training program is giving Metro Supply Chain team members customized learning experiences

More companies are looking to promote from within by creating organization-specific leadership opportunities. 

For individuals with serious career ambitions, leadership skills are a must-have. Have a look at any major business school and you’ll be hard pressed to find one that doesn’t include a leadership component as part of its program. But business school curricula are designed for broad, general audiences. Classes may include bankers, marketers, operations specialists, and IT professionals – each representing a wide swath of industries. 

An increasing number of companies recognize that if they’re going to promote from within, they need to create their own in-house leadership development programs. To that end, Metro Supply Chain launched its own program called Ignite, a one-of-a-kind opportunity for high potential employees to learn the leadership skills they need to face the logistics and supply chain industry’s many challenges while working in an international business with almost 100 sites across North America and Europe. 

Inspired by similar programs at leading global companies, and yet specific to Metro Supply Chain, the program combines traditional classroom instruction, readings and mentorship from senior managers with team-based and individual exercises. The team-based programs in particular are a good example of how Ignite offers customized training. Each group, consisting of participants from across the company, is presented with a real-life challenge faced by Metro Supply Chain. They’re then asked to develop and present ideas on how to best resolve the issue.

The program, which lasts nine months and works with about 10 participants, equips team members with the skills needed to make better decisions, while instilling the confidence to inspire others to perform to the best of their capabilities. Whether team- or individual-based, every assignment and discussion loops back to Metro Supply Chain and the four pillars that inform everything it does: our company, our world, our customers and our team. 

Self-analyzing for strengths and weaknesses

There are two ways to get into the program: you are either nominated by someone who sees you as a future leader or if you meet the criteria, you can apply yourself and go through the interview process. When applying, participants must complete a self-analysis to determine their own specific strengths and weaknesses. This analysis is then used to create a tailored program, where gaps in experience, such as finance or technology, can be filled. 

One way Ignite addresses those gaps is by offering the opportunity to take classes at an accredited university – you might take a profit and loss statement course at a nearby institution, for instance. Depending on which areas need to be addressed and what Ignite offers itself, you could end up taking one or more courses outside of the program. 

So far, one group of eight people have gone through a pilot version of the course, with the next program happening in February 2023. Previous participants have learned a lot about themselves and the industry, they say. “The Ignite Program taught me a lot about myself, what I’m looking for and what needs to evolve,” said Martin Guerin, a Regional Manager from Quebec. Operations Manager Suraj Tiwari was similarly impressed: “The program allowed me to know myself better and find the path I need to follow to achieve my goals.”

Participants were particularly excited about the mentorship opportunities. Participants are assigned mentors – senior employees – who share their experiences and help mentees identify opportunities for growth and avoid pitfalls as they continue their professional journeys. Each participant meets with multiple mentors throughout the program, which gives them a chance to learn about different functions within Metro Supply Chain from the perspective of senior leadership.  

Another advantage? You get an opportunity to meet peers from across the organization who are at similar points in their career development. “I was able to work with different team members across the company and build some great friendships along the way,” said J. Chris Neykov, a Regional Manager from Western Canada. “Thank you for the experience.”