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emlyon business school has used its know-how and expertise to develop an excellence program for people with senior managerial responsibilities in the DESCOURS & CABAUD Group. Entitled ‘Premium', the course was provided for nine people who are destined to play their part in the future design and deployment of the Group's strategy.

Preparing the future

Helping high-potential individuals to take on additional responsibilities, strengthening their skill sets and learning to work together on the Group's growth strategy… there were many objectives to be considered when DESCOURS & CABAUD created a tailor-made training program with emlyon business school in 2021. A partner for industrial and construction companies, the Group is the market leader in France and a major player in Europe, while also having a presence in North America. It operates through three distinct brands: DEXIS, for the industrial sector; PROLIANS, in construction; and HYDRALIANS, which specializes in water and landscaping projects. Together, the brands have a total of 14,000 employees.

“We called on emlyon's expertise to create a development program that went beyond ‘training' in the usual sense of the term. Our aim was not only to align our leaders with the Group's strategic direction of travel, but also to prepare them for taking on more senior positions in the company,” says Albéric Boitrel, the Group's Human Resources Director. DESCOURS & CABAUD worked with emlyon business school to co-create a program for its high-potential managers. “Entrepreneurship is an integral part of our DNA, which is also reflected in the values of emlyon with its dedicated Chair of entrepreneurship. With this course, we wanted to increase the participants' willingness to take controlled risks and their appetite for innovation,” explains Albéric Boitrel.

At the same time, the program also sought to strengthen their sense of belonging to the Group and to encourage collaboration and discussion between its different brands. In other words, the idea was for these future key figures in DESCOURS & CABAUD to become ambassadors of the Group's strategies and values. “DESCOURS & CABAUD's senior executives were fully engaged in co-developing the architecture of the program,” confirms Véronique Degottex, educational manager at emlyon business school.

Coaching and challenges at the heart of the program

The nine participants, divided into groups of three, were brought together for an initial phase in which they identified subjects with high added value for the Group, based on the company's strategic plan. Among the selected topics were changes in the managerial culture and behaviors.

Spread across 14 days of in-person training over a period of 11 months, the course focused on three main areas: leadership, strategy and finance. Developed in sequential order, the course comprised modules lasting either two or three days, each combining practical deployment with project work. The program featured a mixture of theory, role play, business games and individual coaching. For Véronique Degottex: “The coaching aspect and the role play workshops are an essential part of the course. They provide a way of working on the strategic approach and the posture expected of a member of the executive committee at the same time.”

The course also involved a series of personality profiling tests, such as DISC (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness) and WPMOT (Workplace Motivators). “These tests are a way of analyzing managerial preferences and dominant behaviors. The ultimate aim is to understand how other people operate so that, as a manager, you can better interact with people in a top-performing team,” says Véronique Degottex.

A first step toward an extensive training project

In May 2022, participants handed in their dissertations and presented their projects to a panel of three people from DESCOURS & CABAUD – the chairman of the board, the financial director and the Group HR director – and two professors from emlyon business school. “The key success factor, aside from the training itself, was the alchemy within the Group and those providing the course. The session was all about the values associated with sharing, and focusing on the human touch,” adds Leslie Saint-Marc, project manager at emlyon business school.

Praised by participants, the quality of the training was underlined by beneficiaries such as Fabien Nieps, Director of Talent Development at the DESCOURS & CABAUD Group, who made no secret of his enthusiasm for the course. “Having spent 26 years with the Group, it gave me the chance to put my skills into perspective and to see new opportunities for development. In particular, I worked on my ability to create a horizontal management structure, and to increase my ability to listen. For me, the course was above all a time for personal engagement and a human adventure that made a powerful impression on me. The high quality of the training and personal coaching have really helped me to make progress at a personal level.”

The 'Premium' course has been accompanied since May 2022 by a training program for local managers, aiming to further develop an intrapreneurial spirit within the Group's teams.