Executive Education programme recognised for delivering a unique experience to A.T. Kearney partners
Expanding Horizons, an Executive Education custom programme run by global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney and London Business School (LBS), has won silver in the Executive Development category of the 2018 EFMD Excellence in Practice awards.
The programme – aimed at partners with expert content and technical knowledge – was launched in 2013 as part of A.T. Kearney’s vision to become the world’s most admired consulting firm. Participants develop a deeper connection with clients and gain a heightened awareness of their impact.
Stephen Parker, A.T. Kearney’s Chief Learning Officer, said that the award celebrates the innovation, creativity and hard work that went into launching such a programme for the firm’s partners.
“The EFMD [an accreditation body for quality and impact assessment in management] is highly regarded, so to get the award is very satisfying and a vindication of all the risks we took to get this programme off the ground.
“When planning this programme we spoke to one of the firm’s partners, Xavier Mesnard, who said: ‘We love to learn but hate to be taught’. That became a mantra as we thought about how to meet this challenge. Every partner has either a PhD or MBA and they spend their days surrounded by knowledge, wisdom and expertise when working with their clients, so we knew we had to offer something different.
“We realised that if we made the programme about learning and not teaching, we had a shot. Making a big impact with this and creating a learning experience that got our partners excited and engaged would open doors to other possibilities for colleagues throughout the firm.”
Parker and LBS developed a unique programme based on experiential learning. Partners engage in an array of activities such as an equine session to understand the art of connection, time with a string quartet and a masterclass with a theatre guru to examine the associations between breath, posture, courage and trust.
The first module of the 15-month programme, based in London, sees partners re-examine their core values and purpose. They experiment with new ways of behaving to challenge their own views, routines and ways of working, expanding how they think, feel and operate.
On the second module, they spend a week split across downtown Mumbai and a rural retreat, where they focus on aligning their strengths, values and passions.
Katie Coates, Client Director for Executive Education at LBS, attributed the programme’s success to establishing a collaborative and trusting relationship between A.T. Kearney and the School. “Our relationship was founded on shared values and a passion to create something truly transformational,” she said.
“The chemistry was there from the start. We were genuinely excited to work together and were totally committed to pushing the boundaries and making Expanding Horizons edgy, experiential and unlike anything the partners would have experienced.”
The element of surprise is important for each cohort, according to Parker. “You can’t explore themes of agility and ambiguity inside a programme where every minute is highly structured and the timetable is shared in advance,” he said.
“We give the partners an idea of the themes they’ll explore and some of the experiences they can expect without going into too much detail. Then, when a string quartet walks into the room, everyone’s thinking ‘What on earth is this?’ Unique experiences outside of their core expertise can be a great leveller for our partners, allowing them to relax and learn.”
Parker added that the success of the programme enabled A.T. Kearney to transform the firm’s learning and development, ethos and content. “Learning has become the forum where we can now go beyond the acquisition of new skills and expertise to enrich the social and cultural fabric of the firm.”
Johan Aurik, Global Managing Partner (2012–18) at A.T. Kearney, is thrilled with the award. He said: “Talent development is at the core of our business and we set out five years ago on a journey to develop a truly world-class professional development programme with our partners at LBS.
“We succeeded beyond our expectations and I’m proud to see the impact every day, both for the company and the people themselves. We’ve truly made people grow, faster and in new directions, and created lasting impact.”