• Learning

Developing Talent at MBDA Missile Systems

How MBDA partners with HEC Paris Executive Education to attract, nurture and retain top talent - a decade of trust and collaboration

Tuesday 09 November 2021


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MBDA Missile Systems, which offers a range of high-technology products, is the only European company that caters to the three branches of the armed forces: land, sea, and air. Customers choose MBDA for its ability to meet ever-changing military requirements, its cost effectiveness, and its commitment to superior customer service.

Along with its dedication to its clients, MBDA is dedicated to its people and Laurent Camus, Group Head of Learning & Development and Employee Engagement oversees the actualization of this focus. Laurent Camus has moved through progressive roles, starting out as the Head of Missile Software in 1993, he has served in his current role since 2007. With almost 30 years of experience, he realized that MBDA has both challenges and opportunities that it needed to meet.

Laurent Camus was interested in designing a custom program that could provide the necessary support for three of MBDA’s executive levels. In searching for custom programs, he met HEC Paris Program Director and fellow engineer Hervé Coyco. Before his academic tenure, Hervé Coyco worked for Michelin for 30 years, eventually becoming President of Michelin Group Automotive Division. The two connected over their extensive backgrounds in management, a shared understanding of the challenges in training technical professionals in the finer points of team leadership, and a mutual commitment to meeting MBDA’s unique talent needs. As he built MBDA’s custom program from the bottom up, Hervé didn’t just become Laurent’s partner, he joined Laurent as a stakeholder in MBDA’s success.

Over the next 10 years, Laurent Camus and Hervé Coyco developed a deep relationship as co-collaborators designing this custom program.

A decade of trust and collaboration

10 years ago, MBDA decided to develop executive-level custom programs. MBDA executives possessed exceptional technical expertise and were eager to develop their management skills. Laurent Camus sought a tailored training program that would strengthen their leadership capabilities.

MBDA also sought to create a set of programs that could be integrated into the company’s leadership development roadmap. It should also offer diverse educational approaches to provide support for a variety of participants and contribute to the retention and development of top performers.

To meet these needs, MBDA searched for an academic partner that would understand its company culture. “MBDA is a global and emerging technology company. We have high demands and expect high performance. At the same time, we’re a mission-driven organization,” Laurent Camus affirms. After researching several custom program options, MBDA chose HEC Paris Executive Education because of its commitment to understanding and meeting the needs of each of its partner companies.

A comprehensive partnership for strategic program development

Because Hervé Coyco is positioned by Laurent Camus’ side as MBDA’s partner, and not just a service provider, they see themselves as equally invested in the program’s success. Initially bonding over their shared engineering backgrounds, the close relationship that emerged is founded on that mutual commitment to creating the best possible experience for participants with the best possible results for the company.

In developing the custom programs for MBDA, Hervé Coyco’s first task was identifying the most suitable professors to develop MBDA-centered executive-level course content. Because MBDA’s custom program has a tiered structure, developed to guide talent through a progressive pipeline, the readiness of professors and participants alike to commit is key. 

Hervé Coyco carefully selects the faculty for MBDA, giving careful consideration to each potential professor’s expertise, their personality, and their ability to tailor their content to meet the needs of 3 different executive levels at MBDA, “It needs to be a dream team that is willing to collaborate with one another. That is a huge, huge differentiator”, states Hervé Coyco. Hand-picking professors requires a clear understanding of MBDA’s goals and objectives as well as each individual professor’s potential contributions.

Designing a program to move talent upwards

MBDA runs three programs with HEC Paris Executive Education, all of which focus mainly on strategy and innovation, though each is tailored to its specific group of participants. There is one for emerging talent, one for current managers who have proven themselves, and one for current top-ranking executives. By creating such a tiered program, HEC Paris Executive Education has helped MBDA attract new talent who seek opportunities for growth, while also retaining existing talent who are benefiting from the tangible investment made by MBDA for their development

The programs are consistent but adaptive, with purposeful adjustments being made over time to mirror MBDA’s evolving priorities; for instance, this year included a focus on the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic required innovative modifications for team collaboration.

Every year, 70 MBDA employees participate across the three programs; over the past 10 years, 700 employees from five different countries have taken part. Participants learn leadership and management skills and seize the chance to network with other leaders and build meaningful relationships.

Laurent Camus emphasizes how impactful these connections have been for the company. For instance, two MBDA directors attended the program together and developed a strong rapport. This connection later saved the company two million euros as they joined forces, using their new skills to problem-solve together.

The premium level of programming stems from the original investment that Hervé Coyco makes in selecting a faculty team who will deep dive into understanding MBDA’s culture and goals. Because the faculty themselves meet with the leadership team and build their curriculum directly from the company’s priorities, the program is highly relevant and participants are able to see clear and immediate results at every stage. What’s more, both Laurent Camus and Hervé Coyco have attended every session in the last 10 years, keeping a close eye and ensuring that every cohort enjoys the best that HEC Paris Executive Education has to offer.

A clear impact on innovation

Even though the program has received outstanding feedback from more than 700 participants over the last decade, Hervé Coyco and HEC Paris Executive Education never stop striving to improve. Through evaluations from participants and critical examinations of areas for improvement, Hervé Coyco is constantly pursuing his goal to “raise the bar every year.”

Not only do the participants share their direct feedback, but the demand for the program and its contribution to MBDA’s overall retention rates speak for themselves. Laurent Camus asserts that this is the reason why MBDA has low turnover rates and says that the program is an effective tool for recruitment. While demand for the program is high, selection is competitive, creating an incentive for employees to push themselves to innovate and establish their candidacy. At the 10-year mark, executives who began in the “emerging talent” tier and participated through the “leaders of today” tier demonstrate the value of this program in their daily work. MBDA sees a clear connection between the quality of their existing leadership team and their participation in the executive programs designed by HEC Paris.

A laser focus on the company’s future

At the end of the day, the effort that Hervé Coyco and Laurent Camus pour into the development, execution, and iteration of their HEC Paris Executive Education custom program is all for a single purpose: to enable current and future leaders in MBDA to excel and drive the company’s success to the next level.

Nearly 20 years since its founding, MBDA has implemented its custom program for more than half of its lifespan and the dividends say it all. By continually investing in the best opportunities for its executives to learn and grow, the company continues to stand at the forefront of technological advancement.

HEC Paris, a leading global institution

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