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Blended Learning in the Cloud and on Campus

IMD’s customized program for Hilti’s future leaders


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Providing a high-quality learning experience to a group of executives spread around the world while at the same time allowing participants to continue to perform their jobs, is a challenge that will increasingly be posed in a globalized world.

To meet this challenge for the international construction giant Hilti, IMD business school adopted a modular system of blended online and on-campus learning, to create a customized program for 24 of the company’s up-and-coming executives and potential future leaders.

The program kicked off with participants undertaking units of IMD’s innovative new Global Leadership in the Cloud programs Strategic Thinking and Being Innovative over six weeks from their own locations. Next the Hilti executives came to IMD’s campus, at Lausanne on Lake Geneva, for one week in-person sessions with IMD’s faculty for a deeper dive into subjects like strategy, emerging markets, speed, leadership, digital transformation, organizational change, and more. They also had a surprise day outdoors in the Swiss mountains to test their limits, leadership skills and self-awareness.

On returning to their offices, the participants completed another seven weeks of courses covering finance and how to lead strategic initiatives. Crucially this was done with continued support from the IMD faculty providing individualized feedback, and with group and pair work with other participants.

“I think the length of IMD’s online programs and the peer element are important parts of why they work so well. The peer element is motivating. If you’re alone, it’s easy not to do an online course. Also since they are studying for six weeks at a time and not, say, a year, it’s not so daunting.” commented Eivind Slaaen, Head of People and Development at Hilti.

“You get a lot of personal feedback in the online courses. You know somebody took the time to look at what you did and to tell you how you can improve,” said Zlatan Alikadic, a participant from Sweden. He also commented that the program gave him a sense of commitment from his company. “The company walks the talk; you can see that they are investing in younger executives for the future,” he said.

Ernesto Pulido from Mexico said that he was not a fan of online learning before the experience, but due to the high quality of the overall product and the appropriateness of the assignments, he got a lot out of the distance parts. “Plus it was wonderful to actually meet the professors later,” he said.

Paul Hunter, Director of IMD’s Corporate Learning Network, points out that “Increasingly organizations are looking for bespoke blended solutions that combine the best of digital with the best of face-to-face. The combination of IMD’s GLC programs and classroom interaction provides a convenient, flexible and fully immersive experience.”

IMD Professor of Organizational Behavior and International Management Martha Maznevski, who directs the Hilti Outperformers blended program, said “Thanks to the way our programs are put together, we could do something similar to what we did for Hilti for any organization, but the program might end up looking completely different because every company has different DNA. That’s the beauty of this type of learning customization,”

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