In an Aug. 13 presentation as part of the company’s second-quarter earnings release, Sunny George Verghese, co-founder, chief executive officer and executive director of Olam, spoke at length on the importance of the learning academy in Olam’s future growth.
With a stake in a wide range of commodities, including grains, seeds, nuts, coffee and cocoa, the learning academy was established with a goal to build out the capabilities that are critical to Olam’s strategy, Verghese said.
|Sunny George Verghese, co-founder, chief executive officer and executive director of Olam.|
“That includes training capability, manufacturing capability, risk management capability, plantation and farming capability, et cetera, also digital capability and also embedding and designing the sustainability chip,” he said. “Because at the heart, we believe that sustainability will be a big deal, and we want to be differentiated in that context as well. The second is to grow and develop our talent by giving them opportunities to master the skill over the course of each year through continuous learning. So we want all our Olam employees to have opportunities to master their skill, and this learning academy will facilitate that process.
“Thirdly, we want to institutionalize and reinforce Olam’s culture and values. As you go around this floor, you will see the Olam Way, our business model exhibition. And that is basically to remind everybody in Olam about how we compete, how we win, how we grow and how we succeed in the marketplace, what are the elements that allow us to do that. And the heart of it is to know who we are, and that’s really about our spirit and our values and our culture. So we expect this learning academy to serve that objective of reinforcing and institutionalizing Olam’s values and culture.”
Finally, Verghese said Olam wants the learning academy to serve as a forum for brainstorming critical business challenges that may impact the company.
“We have a Quest X Series, where we bring in top leaders from around the world to come and talk to our senior leadership team on critical challenges that face the business and finding creative, innovative solutions for that,” he explained. “We also have Quest I, which is about internal leaders and managers in the company sharing their learning experience. And even in the first month that we have been here, we have had, firstly, a talk by Dr. Michael Schluter from Cambridge who has written books on relational capital, who came and spoke to us about that. And then a few weeks ago, we had Professor Bhaskar Chakravorti who teaches at the Fletcher School to come and talk to us about digitalization and innovation as well as the link between is a digital planet an inclusive planet, so about how sustainability and digitalization can also go hand-in-hand. So these are examples of how we want to use the learning academy as a forum to brainstorm critical business issues that we face.”
Verghese said Olam has established three pillars by which the company will develop its training and development programs: a leadership pillar, a functional skills pillar, and a business model training pillar.
About 70% of the faculty at the learning academy will be internal and 30% external, Verghese said. Olam plans to use real-world examples that its employees are performing to educate participants at the academy. The company also intends to have a virtual learning platform, where people are provided training and developmental inputs through an online instruction medium.