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News Stories · Leadership - Strategy

Bringing impactful executive learning to the humanitarian sector

ICRC and IMD partnership boosts learning at HQ and in hard to access locations in the field
December 2016

How can a global humanitarian organization provide top quality executive learning and development to managers located in some of the world’s most challenging regions in terms of access, infrastructure and conflict?

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) shares many of the organizational and leadership challenges of big companies. They have to build management skills, develop leadership and run complex multi-country networks, while remaining in control of corporate governance.

As an active member of IMD’s Corporate Learning Network since 2012, ICRC’s partnership with IMD continues to strengthen over the years.

The ICRC operates in over 80 countries with a total number of 16,000 staff worldwide. Under 1,000 of the organization’s personnel are based in Geneva, close enough to come to IMD’s campus. The ICRC’s extensive network of missions and delegations work in countries that are affected by armed conflict and other violence. The organization has a large presence in some of the world’s most difficult environments like Pakistan, Mali/Niger, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Colombia, Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.

In order to bring the richness of IMD’s face to face learning to both ICRC’s headquarters and field personnel working in unpredictable and difficult to access locations, the Corporate Learning Network decided on a two-fold approach combining the Global Leadership in the Cloud – IMD’s suite of online-based programs – and on-campus Discovery Events.

Global Leadership in the Cloud programs (GLCs)

Participants in IMD’s Global Leadership in the Cloud programs engage in highly-personalized and interactive experiences that involve dynamic videos, individual coaching and learning partnerships with peers. In addition, the courses give real feedback and recommendations from IMD in order to maximize the effectiveness of online learning.

The ten programs now offered are: Being Innovative, Digital Disruption, Finance Fundamentals for Executives, Learning Leadership, Leading Strategic Initiatives, Leveraging Strategic Partnerships, Marketing Management, Pricing Excellence in Tough B2B Markets, Strategic Thinking, and the soon-to-be-released Building Business Sustainability.

“Although the ICRC is a humanitarian organization, many of its executives have a need for deeper knowledge on leadership, strategy, innovation and other business-oriented subjects, just like many large corporations do,” says Feena May, ICRC’s Head of Learning and Development. “And it’s exactly those topics that the Global Leadership in the Cloud suite provides. The ICRC is a 1.7 billion Swiss Franc operation and it is important that we run it well. We also wanted to have IMD quality learning that doesn’t only focus on the humanitarian sector. The Corporate Learning Network does just that.”

Just because the Global Leadership in the Cloud courses are run online, the quality doesn’t suffer according to Feena.

“Somehow the Global Leadership in the Cloud programs have managed to keep that campus richness, by creating not just an online course that five million people can sign into, but a very focused and personal learning experience with one-on-one coaching,” she says. “It’s really great advance in the area of learning and the programs deliver on IMD’s reputation for quality.”

According to Feena, the popularity of the online programs is expanding within the ICRC, and she says the organization now offers a number of GLC’s scholarship to its staff. “For staff in the field, GLCs are also a price effective educational tool,” she adds.

Discovery Events

While the Global Leadership in the Cloud programs help deliver high-quality business learning to some of the most remote places, ICRC’s personnel at its Geneva headquarters also benefit from the learning and networking that IMD’s on-campus Discovery Events have to offer. The events are a great opportunity for ICRC’s specialists to deepen their knowledge in certain areas like digital transformation, leadership, innovation and more. At Discovery Events ICRC executives get the opportunity to learn from like-minded professionals from other sectors, according to Feena. “We are very much interested in learning best practice from outside our sector and the events are a good occasion for that,” she says. “The events also help to generate further interest in other IMD programs.”

The Corporate Learning Network has enabled the ICRC to expand its learning offer to staff in the field and at their headquarters in an efficient and cost-effective manner. It also affords them the opportunity to interact and learn from organizations and individuals from outside of their immediate sector, which was one of their requirements.

IMD’s GLCs are flexible enough for ICRC personnel to learn at their own pace, which is a major asset to executives who work in some of the most unpredictable and turbulent environments in the world.

“We appreciate the CLN and The Global Leadership in the Cloud programs because they give the ICRC staff access to best practice learning at the high-level that IMD provides,’ Feena says. “The fact that the learning focuses on all types of organizations and companies, and not just the humanitarian sector, is a valuable part of it.”

It’s not only this variety which makes CLN a success, but also the fact that the portfolio continues to evolve over the years in order to meet customer demands. “IMD’s Corporate Learning Network creates impact by thinking ahead and keeping their focus on what their clients need,” Feena says.

Respond to your organization’s specific learning and development needs with IMD’s Corporate Learning Network (CLN), a comprehensive membership offering the latest and best in virtual, blended and face-to-face learning.