Vivero: Airbus Military and IESE Business School - IEDP
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Vivero: Airbus Military and IESE Business School

Transformational change to succeed in a new fast-changing environment


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Vivero, is a comprehensive corporate development program co-developed by Airbus Military, the global market leader in military and civil/humanitarian transport, tanker and surveillance aircrafts and IESE Business School in 2011. Vivero, which means (horticultural) nursery in Spanish, was highly commended in the 2013 EFMD Excellence in Practise Awards. 

Since 2008 European defence budgets of have been reduced by an average 15%. As a result Airbus Military’s long-term government clients have experienced a general expenditure restriction and Airbus Military have had to expand and innovate their other markets globally to compensate. A transformational change was needed. As part of this, from an organizational view, Domingo Ureña, CEO of Airbus Military since 2010, and Javier Matallanos, member of the Board in charge of Special Projects, encouraged the creation of a leadership development program.

The company identified the need for a corporate development program to train young leaders amongst their highly-technical, specialized workforce and to offer them the business expertise and awareness essential to succeed in this new fast-changing environment.                     

IESE Business School had had previous experience working with Airbus Military at a management level, making the decision to partner with them straight-forward. Senior VP Head of Airbus Military Special Programs stated that “IESE is the trusted partner to transform the mind-set and behavior of the participants and drive the transformational change required for this task.”

In order to develop and establish a successful program, Airbus Military and IESE realised that the support and involvement of the full Management Board was vital. Enlisting the Board’s support was easy, since all Board members had experienced similar programs with IESE and were very happy to further the collaboration. A Steering Committee, drawn from Airbus Military’s Board members and IESE’s directors, was developed to mentor, guide and coach the business ideas generated from Vivero.

 Vivero program 

Vivero provides employees with the business expertise and internal awareness to become “intrapreneurs” in alignment with the company’s global strategy. The program lasted around six months with participants being welcomed from countries such as Australia, France, UK, Poland and Germany, as well as from the various cities within Spain where Airbus Military operates, including Seville and Cadiz. Airbus Military and IESE designed their program around three major differential aspects from similar corporate development programs:

  • DESIGN & DELIVERY OF SESSIONS BY AIRBUS MILITARY BOARD MEMBERS & IESE FACULTY – Authentic understanding of business situations and real challenges.
  • STEERING COMMITTEE TO MENTOR AND GUIDE – Inspires reflections that drive transformational change.
  • MATERIALIZATION OF BUSINESS IDEAS – Business Acumen, Intellectual challenge, confidence and creativity to become real “intrapreneurs”, encourages novelty and productive outcomes.

The program was structured around four residential modules: Leadership, Business Acumen, Change Management and Intra–entrepreneurship, with each of the four modules taking place every four to six weeks. The academic content was extensive and went well beyond business knowledge – finance, intrapreneurship, business plan development, negotiation techniques – to include relationship building, influencing, innovation, networking and strategic thinking with a global mind-set from a leadership and self-development perspective.

In order to accomplish Vivero’s specific aims and objectives, the multi-modular initiative combined residential with virtual components such as customized podcasts and live virtual classrooms. Candidates used a team website which supported practical learning, to research further readings and to interact and develop their business ideas. Alongside this, the site was used for networking amongst participants.

The Vivero program continues and each one is launched at Airbus Military’s headquarters in Madrid. The launch sees the passion and drive from previous candidates who share their enthusiasm and positive outlook with the new participants. A summary of the Vivero program is presented and guidelines are given to new participants already thinking about the creative and innovative ideas which can be worked on during the program.

Each session is very interactive allowing participants to express their opinions and ideas. This interaction gives them access to viewpoints and experiences through debate. Furthermore, consistent contextualization of principles ensures that each session has significance and that foundations are rapidly applied to their business ideas.

Designing the program in this structure allows participants to:

Assimilate and reflect on the knowledge gathered.
Immediately apply the skills in the workplace.
Develop the business plans with their teams.
Follow up in subsequent modules the lessons learned and challenges found.

Keep up with their daily job responsibilities.


To view the success rate of participants Airbus Military and IESE measure the impact of the Vivero program. As soon as modules have been completed, data is collected with review questionnaires to measure short term impact. By looking at feedback from participants, mentors and internal supporters, IESE is able to evaluate the opinion of Vivero, amend any issues that have been brought up and improve the program.

Further data was collected after the Steering Committee completed its task with the teams and business ideas materialized into concrete projects. This evidence has demonstrated in-depth the impact achieved on the cultural transformation of the organization.
A Vivero participant stated his enthusiasm for the program - “As engineers we face difficult challenges in our career, but we can always go beyond our usual tasks if entrusted. With Vivero, Airbus Military not only empowers us with business knowledge but also engages us and obtains our full commitment to be part of the expansion of the company. I am so honored that I have been entrusted with this responsibility.”

However, Vivero’s impact has gone beyond the development of leadership or business capabilities at an individual or group level: the following figure below summarises how Airbus Military has benefitted across a number of relevant dimensions:


After three editions, Vivero has grown to become a key corporate development program with its own essence. Its impact is already felt throughout the organization and its full effects are expected to grow with time.  

Watch the IESE interview with Domingo Ureña-Raso, Head of Airbus Military

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