Future Leaders Learning Program Puts Business Analysis at Core
The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. is a leading property and casualty insurance provider based in Worcester, Massachusetts in the United States. The company distributes its products through independent agents across the country. Established in 1852, The Hanover has grown to rank among the top 30 property and casualty insurers in the United States with more than 4,000 employees.
One of the core skill sets identified as being critical to The Hanover’s continued business success is that of business analysis. For the past five years, The Hanover has partnered with ESI International to deliver instructor-led learning to business analysts in its technology division. There were, however, business analysts in the business areas of the company as well.
With approximately 200 business analysts across the company, The Hanover’s leadership sought to formalize an enterprise wide strategy for positioning the business analyst role as a pipeline for analytical and operational roles. With the implementation of its Future Leaders Program in 2009, work was begun on developing a consistent profile for entry-level business analyst talent at The Hanover.
The challenge before ESI and The Hanover was to develop a learning program for the Future Leaders Program effort that could indoctrinate new team members within various business units quickly and focus on raising the bar for the entire company, steering a course for continuous leadership development.
With approximately 200 business analysts stretching across multiple lines of business, bringing enterprise-wide focus to this role as a career-growth opportunity is a winning strategy.
Planning for the program focused on a number of key strategic goals, including:
- Identifying and effectively recruiting outstanding university students and recent graduates
- Determining a consistent, common approach and language around business analysis
- Delivering learning through a range of modalities to ensure skills and knowledge are reinforced and effectively applied
The Hanover chose to partner with ESI International to guide the development and implementation of this new program. “It was clear that they were the ideal choice as our partner for this program,” said Irene Brank, Assistant Vice President and Director of The Hanover’s Future Leaders Program. “Their direction, commitment and support have helped us chart the path to this initiative.”
The first task was to map a set of core competencies for the Future Leaders Program, which was divided into two broad career focus areas: business management and risk management. Assessment tools to effectively benchmark and evaluate the progress of program participants were also developed.
Once recruited into the two-year program, candidates are assigned an IT or non-IT career track. At the conclusion of the two years, candidates will find placement in a role that allows them to continue to grow their career. To ensure participants have the skills and knowledge they need to be leaders, the Future Leaders Program guides participants through a range of learning opportunities:
- Traditional instructor-led classroom curricula
- Reinforcement workshops delivered in person and via webinars
- A participant forum promoting formal group interaction, including program coaches
- Corporate-wide access to online reference materials
- Practical, on-the-job application of new skills and knowledge
- Continued mentoring after program completion
The program’s design ensures that learning and reinforcement take place before, during and after classroom training. Pre-class webinars create a foundation that prepares participants for specific learning events and reinforcement workshops conducted after courses further reinforce key competencies.
“We believe that offering a range of learning opportunities greatly increases the program’s success,” said Ken Joseph, Business Learning Manager, The Hanover. “By combining what we could offer in-house with ESI’s various, interactive modalities, we’ve achieved a robust solution.”
The Future Leaders Program also offers coaching and mentoring, as well as the opportunity to earn professional and technical certifications including Actuarial, Business Analysis, and INS certifications.
As university graduates progress through the program, the company’s current leaders also undergo targeted learning based upon position and role, which promotes consistent knowledge across the organization. These include:
- Traditional, instructor-led classroom courses
- Executive level workshops and webinars that overview key program knowledge areas
- Skill specific workshops and webinars
The Future Leaders Program builds upon the success of the two companies’ partnership which has demonstrated:
- Significant improvements in project completions and adherence to budgets
- A dramatic reduction in project change requests
- A reduction in project errors
- Faster time to market for new products
While still in the early stages, the Future Leaders Program has begun to deliver decisive impact by:
- Charting a clear and fast track for new leadership
- Defining a consistent approach and language around business analysis
- Improving recruiting and retention
- Increasing organization-wide competency in business analysis
Each year, approximately 75 future leaders are accepted into the program. At this rate almost 10 percent of the company will have completed the leadership program in the next five years.
The Hanover and ESI are identifying ways to further enrich the program. Specific considerations include:
- Enhancing The Hanover’s company-wide business analysis methodology
- The addition to the core learning program of a “live” practicum project
- Inclusion of a set of business consulting and skills curricula focused on such topics as financial literacy, critical thinking and leading organizational change
- Inclusion of additional project management specific curricula
- Executive workshops to refine the mentoring skills of those managing Future Leaders Program participants to help them more effectively reinforce the program’s competencies
- Ongoing individual and organizational assessments to add value and uncover areas for greater learning emphasis
“Despite the early stage status of the program, it’s already delivering clear benefits to us,” said Greg Tranter, Senior Vice President and COO, The Hanover. “Much of the benefit is a direct result of the emphasis we’re placing on business analysis for decision making, which is changing the way our company approaches its decisions.”
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Nancy Y. Nee, PMP, CBAP, CSM, Executive Director, Project Management & Business Analysis Programs, ESI International, provides thought leadership in the field of project management and business analysis while incorporating the industry’s best practices and professional advances into ESI’s portfolio of project management and business analysis courses and services. She is a member of numerous professional associations including the Project Management Institute (PMI®), the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®), and the Scrum Alliance where she is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP®) from the PMI®, Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®) from the (IIBA®), and a Certified Scrum Master from the Scrum Alliance. www.esi-intl.com.