We want leaders to be constantly asking themselves: “Is it really an ambitious target that we are working towards?”, “Is it clear who’s owning what and do we have a clear mandate?”, and “Are we making timely decisions to cater to the demands of the market?” I believe that all this contributes to shaping their leadership, personality, and how they seek to impact the business target.
Since 2018, Global Semiconductor Manufacturer, Infineon Technologies, has been teaming up with INSEAD to run a customised training programme for their top leaders.
Jessica Richter, Senior Director, and Head of People & Leadership Development at Infineon, shares her unique insight into how the company’s people development strategy ties in to their overall business objectives, and how INSEAD is playing a key partnership role in preparing top management to lead the organisation.
Can you give us a brief introduction about Infineon Technologies?
In a nutshell, we are a global semiconductor manufacturer with a workforce of some 57,000 people worldwide. But, we see ourselves as more than just microchip manufacturers, we see our microchips as enablers towards solving some of the important challenges of our time.
Key areas that we have identified include decarbonisation and digitalisation of our environment. We believe that semiconductors are a crucial part of solving the energy crisis, and shaping digital transformation. So right now, we’re really focused on the automation and green energy space.
What is your role at Infineon, and how does it contribute to the company’s overall vision?
I’m overall responsible for people and leadership development (PLD) at Infineon, which covers approximately 57,000 employees, 5,500 people leaders and 630 top management staff globally. So my job spans everything from onboarding on day one, to career succession, to leadership training, mentoring and coaching.
Our focus for this fiscal year and the next is on building up our talent pipeline. In this race for talent, we are thinking hard about how we can equip our talents with interesting career opportunities and learning paths, how we can increase their competency with digital tools, and how we can build up their digital literacy.
My role also includes leadership enablement. This is another extremely crucial area because our leaders are under immense pressure, just because of the sheer amount of ambiguity in the environment – political changes, workforce transformation and digitalisation. So we are enabling our leaders to be able to cope with these.
What is your strategy for leadership development?
On the one hand, we are preparing our managers and leaders to tackle daily tasks and to manage daily operations. But also on the other hand, we want them to be strategic leaders – transformational leaders with a coach mindset – who can really understand their people and support their departments in designing products that cater to our decarbonisation and digitalisation goals.
To be clear, our department is not functionally involved in teaching these topics content wise. But, what we are doing is enabling leaders to lead their team, to cope with challenges, and to communicate their vision.
Can you tell us more about the Infineon General Management Programme (IGMP) and how it contributes to building up the desired leadership culture at Infineon?
IGMP is a targeted programme for our roughly 630 top management staff. It is a programme that we have customised together with INSEAD. We just conducted our fourth run of the programme, and we have 120 alumni on the IGMP programme already.
At Infineon, we have a very holistic leadership development landscape. We start from Leading Basics, which is essentially a pre-leaders training course. Then we have eight comprehensive leadership training programmes for the four different career paths at Infineon. This is to ensure that we cater to all the very different challenges that are being faced by our leaders.
This culminates with our IGMP programme, which is a formalised programme based on three key pillars – Leadership & Organisation, Core Innovation Processes and General Management Mindset. IGMP consists of six intensive training days at INSEAD’s Fontainebleau campus, as well as some virtual days.
How else does Infineon collaborate with INSEAD?
There are four components of our cooperation with INSEAD. Firstly, as I mentioned is our IGMP for top management. Secondly, we engage INSEAD’s professors to speak at our leadership and department conferences. Thirdly, we send our colleagues to INSEAD’s open enrolment programmes, which a lot of our colleagues are taking advantage of.
And, finally, we also have a talent management programme. This is run out of Singapore, where the participants are a mix of colleagues from Asia and beyond.
What are some of the training objectives that you wish to achieve with INSEAD and how do you rate the success of this partnership?
With this partnership, we are aiming to inspire our top management with new concepts. Through IGMP, we are equipping our leaders with new strategies and frameworks, and for them to speak a unified language. Also, we are training them to have a broader mindset when dealing with problems that they face at work.
We have also aligned IGMP to be aligned with our three “SPIRIT” behaviours: to be “Faster in Decision Making”, based on “Clear Responsibilities" – whilst "Striving for Ambitious Targets”. SPIRIT represents the corporate culture change that we want all our staff to embrace.
We want leaders to be constantly asking themselves: “Is it really an ambitious target that we are working towards?”, “Is it clear who’s owning what and do we have a clear mandate?”, and “Are we making timely decisions to cater to the demands of the market?”
I believe that all this contributes to shaping their leadership, personality, and how they seek to impact the business target.
It’s hard to quantify the success of this programme with specific numbers. But, what we can see is the way people are still talking about the INSEAD programme even two years after they’ve completed it. In fact, I still hear them referencing the frameworks and concepts when I talk to them today. So, in my view, the programme has been very successful.
What are the factors that have contributed to a successful partnership?
The fact that it’s a partnership and not a client-customer relationship.
The people working on our account at INSEAD really know and are interested in Infineon, and are always eager to reach a good conclusion. The stability of our partnership, which is coming to five years now, also allows us to take the learnings from each run to make the next one even more successful.
The world-class professors at INSEAD are another important part of the equation. It really is the next level of leadership teaching. Especially when we’re dealing with the top management cohort, it becomes extremely important that the teachers are credentialed.
Finally, I’ve found that INSEAD and Infineon have something in common – and that is an entrepreneurial kind of mindset. We assessed the top business schools around the world, and we wanted to go for someone who would match our culture and values.