A springboard to success - using programmes to grow your talent

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Research conducted by PA Consulting indicates that finding future talent is one of the biggest challenges faced by today’s CEOs. Over 75% of the CEOs that took part in the study said that managing talent was in their top 5 priorities (50% said succession planning was the top talent management priority; 44% said development of talent was).

Traditional routes to the top, via a succession of increasingly senior operational roles, do not expose ambitious people to the full range of experiences they need to be effective leaders. In today’s ever changing world, future leaders must be able to manage change effectively in order to grow their organisations. They must navigate a path through complexity, inspire confidence in times of uncertainty, make fast, informed decisions and engage their staff every step of the way.
Projects and programmes provide some of the most stretching and challenging roles in organisations today. They are exactly the place where future leaders can acquire the experiences they need to support their development.
We have identified four ways in which you can utilise programmes to grow your talent:
1.  Developing leaders in a changing world
The business and financial skills that people acquire through a conventional career path are important. But being good at conventional management is just a small part of the skill-set that leaders need.  In today’s world, organisations undergo almost constant change and some are already running their businesses as a portfolio of programmes. This shift will make project and programme managers’ experience even more valuable at board level.  Organisations need to adapt to develop their talent; experience of delivering programmes is a great way for future leaders to cut their teeth in a change environment.
2.  Targeted opportunities
Research by PA proves that businesses that think seriously about how they develop future talent and embed talent management practices in their organisations perform better financially than those that don’t. Total Shareholder Return for companies where talent management is well embedded can be up to 67% higher than for companies where it is not. Yet despite this, talent management in many organisations remains a box ticking exercise. 58% of the participants from a study undertaken by PA Consulting said that talent management is not well embedded in their business. Only 22% of respondents felt confident enough to say that it is.
Senior leaders can boost returns by playing their part in the talent management process, championing talent development and mentoring future high-flyers. Complex, high profile programmes are a great way of providing targeted and motivating opportunities for your organisation’s future leaders and the most successful organisations incorporate these opportunities in their development programmes.
3.  A commitment to sharing
Moving talented people from one part of the business to another will enable them to gain the ‘stretch’ experiences they need to develop into future leaders. However, sharing talent is often fraught with difficulty. Bureaucracy, a desire to hang on to good people in a particular area, fear of being allocated less-talented people, and resistance on the part of employees themselves are all factors limiting effective talent development. A commitment to sharing talent needs to come from the top.
4.  An untapped source of talent?
Your projects and programmes may also be an untapped source of talent. Organisations’ most complex programmes often contain people with the right qualities and experience to make successful business leaders.  When searching for future leaders, organisations should look at those in project roles as well as operational roles, offering new opportunities to help them realise their potential.  Allowing project managers to manage the business areas that have been changed by their project is a great way to ensure they ‘live the change’ and gives them the operational experience they need to be future leaders.


Posted by Oliver Excell on 3rd Jul 2015

About the Author
Oliver Excell is a programme management and procurement expert at PA Consulting Group. He specialises in the delivery of large complex transformation programmes across the health, defence, telecommunications and transport sectors. Oliver’s project and programme management qualifications include PRINCE2 Practitioner and MSP. He is also an accredited member of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS). To find out more about PA Consulting Group visit: www.paconsulting.com

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