“Developing agile leaders for emerging markets – 70% on-the-job assignment, supported with 20% coaching and 10% in-class tailor-made leadership programs”
Part III of an interview between Partner Sabit Tapan and Kadir Gunduz, Regional Managing Director Indonesia / Papua New Guinea at Coca-Cola Amatil Indonesia
For part I, please read: “I believe in ‘cross-pollination’ of talent and ideas between emerging and developed markets”
For part II, please read: “A simple rallying cry is a highly effective way to embed business vision in emerging markets”
SABIT: How to develop leaders for emerging markets. You gained all this experience first-hand the hard way, but would you do to develop leaders for diverse emerging markets within a multinational company in less time than it took you?
KADIR: I would structure the overall program as 70% on-the-job assignment, supported with structured review processes, consisting of 20% coaching and 10% in-class tailor-made leadership programs.
I would start in the field on a project basis, and test resilience. A key characteristic of an emerging market is volatility. In Indonesia, you are operating in an uncertain environment from an economic perspective, and also from a legal perspective due to the complex structure of central, regional, and local government. Resilience is absolutely the key ingredient from legal, economic, and social perspectives, and I would test and develop that resilience together with the ability to navigate through internal and external complexities. I would create assignments and projects to hone the skills of the team, and thoroughly coach them through the process. I don’t think you can develop a training program that can create leaders in the classroom alone – it has to be mainly market-based learning.
SABIT: And of course, it takes years. If you take a group of high-potential talent with minimum experience, would you be able to develop talent like yourself in, say, five to ten years?
KADIR: It depends on the previous experience of the individuals. Graduates would obviously need more time than a director. I don’t think you need ten years to convert a functional director – what you need to do is expose that talent into a multifunctional position through these project roles. The idea is to run that complexity end-to-end as opposed to in a single function. With good exposure, well-structured assignments, good classroom training that enhances the on-the-job training, and coaching when necessary to provide course correction, you would be ready in a few years – although obviously, that experience needs to be closely monitored.
SABIT: The way that you’ve described the methodology sounds like Agile methodology. Do you think the Agile methodology can be applied to develop leaders for emerging markets?
KADIR: Yes, definitely! Agility is absolutely a key ingredient for any organisation operating in emerging markets. Nimble, agile, flexible – these organisations must be successful, fast in decision-making, quickly adapting as things change rapidly. This is the nature of the market, because things are still developing. For example, your trade structure five years down the road will be very different from the trade structure you have today, so if you are not attuned to your market and you do not monitor it very closely, you will miss the train and you will always be a follower.
SABIT: Kadir, thank you very much for all this insight, and for sharing your 20-year journey in just a few hours. Obviously we have identified areas which deserve sessions of their own, but on the topic of leadership in emerging markets, is there anything else that you would like to share before we conclude?
KADIR: Thank you Sabit, both for this opportunity and for the opportunity to have future conversations on some of these topics. What I’d like to share in conclusion is that there are a lot of drivers that make every experience unique, and what works for me may not work for everyone. Hopefully by sharing my experiences, I can provide an opportunity for people to continue to learn and develop themselves, and perhaps to build on my experiences and drive a successful change in their organisation.