Developing internal talent in the retail network has been a success story for St1. With a network of 310 Shell stations in Norway, the yearly talent program has proved to be an effective way to “home grow” new station managers and retailers.
“One of the things we are particularly proud of is that the talent program has been helping us recruit more female leaders. Ten years ago, we only had one female retailer, but now we have 12 women and 22 men. I believe part of the success is that the program provides a network of colleagues who can support each other to take new steps in their careers,” explains Anita Sørlundsengen, Retail Director at St1 Norway.
For more than ten years, 15–20 people have annually been admitted to the program. Here they receive training in management, business finance, and basic retail training. They meet three times a year to work together for two to three days. In between, they have homework on the daily operations of a retail station.
“The recruitment to the talent program happens in close relation between us at St1 and the retailers. Everyone working at one of our stations can ask to be considered, but mostly they are appointed by retailers and our regional managers,” said Sørlundsengen who adds that a key point of the program is to build the participants self-esteem.
Creating unity and cooperation
“We have incredibly many talented people in our network, but traditionally being a retail manager is not seen as favorably compared to being a manager in other businesses. We think it’s important for them to understand how competent and good they are, and what kind of responsibility that lays on them. This builds confidence and makes them conscious of their important role as leaders.”
Every year a key take-away reported from the participants is that their new network of friends and supporters makes it easier to take a new step in their carrier. Often they support each other long after the talent program is over.
“We find it important to be an employer that takes care of talented people and contributes to lifting those with ambitions. And we wish to build an organization with good cooperation and unity. This we do in many ways, but the talent program is a great contributor.”