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SHL helps Kellogg’s identify high performers

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SHL helps Kellogg’s identify high performers

Case Study


Recently voted into the Sunday Times Top 100 Best Companies to Work For List, Kellogg’s, the world’s leading cereal producer, aims to offer a diverse range of rewarding careers that enable its employees to develop new skills, enjoy new experiences and shape long-lasting career paths. Key to this is developing talent within the company and helping top performers gain the right experience and exposure within key business functions to support their future career aspirations.

Cath Bailey, HR Director European Organisation Effectiveness at Kellogg’s, is responsible for leadership development and succession planning across Europe. Since joining the organisation in 2007, Bailey has been developing a Commercial Talent Pool to do just this and to provide a clear picture of the company’s top talent.

The programme enables us to identify high performers across the business, validate potential and prepare individuals quickly for new roles and challenges. 
Cath Bailey, Kellogg’s

Bailey explains: “Strengthening our leadership and commercial capability is integral to our ability to win in a changing world. The Kellogg’s Commercial Talent Pool Programme enables us to identify high performers across the business, validate potential and prepare individuals quickly for new roles and challenges.

“It is about taking a holistic approach to talent management and leadership development by providing the opportunity for horizontal as well as vertical career development. Only by having a clear line of sight of the best talent within the company, regardless of function, can a ‘Total Talent Pool’ be successfully created from which the best performers can be identified and helped to develop. This allows us to move our key talent around the business to meet our changing business needs, making sure the right people are in the right place at the right time.”

To help identify the strengths and development needs of its top performers and future leaders, Kellogg’s turned to SHL, expert consultants in maximising people performance and talent development, to design and run a Kellogg’s business simulation assessment to measure the potential of senior managers. The output from this is now being used as part of Kellogg’s overall leadership development programme for its high flyers, matching and supporting individual learning needs so potential is fully realised.



The first business simulation assessment was undertaken in 2008 and was createdto measure the potential of senior management working in both sales and marketing functions, where there was felt to be a degree of natural synergy.

SHL worked in partnership with Kellogg’s to create and run the two day event at a Commercial Leadership Development Centre where participants undertook a number of interactive and individual business simulations while being observed by experts from SHL and Kellogg’s.

Top sales and marketing people from across eight European regions including the UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Germany and the Nordics attended the two day programme. Kellogg’s turned to SHL to design and run a business simulation assessment to measure the potential of its senior managers.Prior to this, all participants completed an online personality questionnaire and met with their line managers to discuss objectives and their functional expertise. They were also supplied with background reading outlining the tasks and simulations which would be undertaken at the centre so they were fully prepared to get the most out of the leadership development initiative. The first day was focussed on pure assessment and was designed to reflect a ‘Three Month Quarter in the life of a Senior Commercial Manager’ set in a fictional organisation, closely based on the reality of Kellogg’s. Participants took part in a range of simulations designed by SHL including:

  • Attending a board meeting
  • Producing a business plan
  • Responding to a critical incident that had developed during the day in relation to a marketing promotion that had gone wrong
  • Role play with a team member focusing on inspiring and developing others to achieve their full capability
  • Role play with a customer to convince them of the benefits of a new product whilst negotiating a commercially sound proposition
  • A networking dinner

In addition, a series of written tasks was undertaken that looked at commercial figures, memos and actions that required an immediate response. Each participant had a functional interview that provided the opportunity to discuss individual sales or marketing achievements.

The second day was spent on leadership skills development and career planning. Participants were given the opportunity to explore elements from the previous day, watch the playback of videoed role plays, discuss personality profiles and examine how all of this information related to work and career aspirations. Before leaving the development centre, participants also received detailed feedback from the trained observers to help understand and develop their own functional expertise and leadership skills.

Following the two day programme, a number of opportunities to identify relevant development activities and support in pursuing these was also put in place. Each participant received a report to help create a personal development action plan and a summary of the key, aggregate themes emerging from the development centre was captured to assist Kellogg’s in identifying group-wide strengths and weaknesses or development needs to inform broader development strategies for the sales and marketing community.

Bailey expands: “The business simulation exercise was designed to help differentiate between high performers and high potential employees to ensure full sight of all our top talent, current and future. To strengthen its leadership and commercial capability, Kellogg’s wanted to identify and develop its best talent.Kellogg’s has always placed enormous amounts of emphasis on its succession management processes and the work we have been doing with SHL has enabled the development of our best talent in a more structured way making sure there is a smooth transition when employees take the step up. In particular, we have been able to identify the areas where executives need to get more experience and make sure they are getting this first hand to accelerate the readiness of key successors.

“By undertaking the simulation across business functions, closer relationships have also been developed between sales and marketing at the top level. Kellogg’s prides itself on being a relationship-based organisation so networking within the business and working together is a very important aspect of the culture.”

Next steps

The exercise has been so successful and so well received by participants that Kellogg’s has rolled the assessment model out across its other business functions. Cross functional programmes have been set up across Europe for support functions (e.g. HR, IT, Supply Chain, Nutrition, Finance, Communications and Research and Development among other functions.SHL has helped Kellogg’s gain a unique insight into its Total Talent Pool across Europe, helping it develop and invest in its people for future success.

Bailey goes on to explain: “SHL has been a true partner in helping us to establish a comprehensive process providing excellent advice and expertise. Its consultants have delivered a very innovative programme that has enabled us to assess talent across different functions within the organisation, identify synergies between functions and develop a ‘success profile’ for each function. This is giving us unique insight into the Total Talent Pool that exists throughout Europe, putting us in a position to develop and invest in our best assets – our people – for future and ongoing success.”



Enter the SHL Leadership Talent Audit compeition valued at R200,000! Simply provide a motivation why your organisation could benefit from a talent audit. To enter CLICK HERE for the entry form. Competition closes 5 July 2013.

Last modified on Thursday, 04 July 2013 10:02

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