Employee development

as a success criteria

When hiring, SFS also seeks out long-term partnerships based on mutual trust. This approach shapes not only the behavior of each and every employee but also its corporate culture – SFS’s DNA. This culture and these values are embraced by all employees on a daily basis – through responsible decisions and actions and a systematic focus on customer benefits. Conversely, for SFS that means the holistic development of employees takes a high priority. To safeguard their mutual success in the long term, SFS invests in customized programs for its employees’ training and continuing education. It does this in part to ensure its ability to fill 70% of all management vacancies internally. Elena Scholand, who graduated from the ALDP, reports on her experiences.

Added value

  • Building a global, cross-divisional network
  • Training and development of young leaders
  • Filling vacant management positions internally
  • Securing and passing on existing know-how
Part of the group that completed the ALDP 2022

Leadership@SFS was launched in 2020 with the aim of globally harmonizing and promoting leadership skills across the various development levels. The initiative comprises three levels of leadership training:

Junior Leadership Development Program (JLDP)
The target group is made up of team and project managers. The training is carried out in the respective countries and in accordance with local requirements.

Advanced Leadership Development Program (ALDP)
The target group is made up of teams and project managers who already have several years of management experience and whose managerial responsibility has grown. Training takes place at the regional level (North America, Europe and Asia) and not only promotes the employees’ English language skills but also helps build up an international network.

International Leadership Development Program (ILDP)
This program is aimed at managers with several years of management experience and a great deal of responsibility. Training is international and consists of three modules, each in a different region (so far in North America, Europe and Asia).

Since the greatest need for action was identified in the area covered by the ALDP, which ideally closes the gap between the JLDP and the ILDP, the activities of the past year focused on that development level.

We talked to Elena Scholand. She is 31 years old and has been working for the Riveting division in Germany for six years. Elena joined the company in 2017 as Key Account Manager Automotive and is currently responsible for coordinating product launches in her role as Product Launch Manager. She just recently completed the ALDP Europe and has given us an insight into her experiences so far.

SFS: “Hi Elena, thanks for taking the time to meet up with us and answer a few questions about the ALDP Europe. When did you join the program and how were you selected?”

Elena: “The program began in September 2022 with the first of a total of three modules. Participants were chosen by the Group Executive Board in collaboration with the competent HR departments of the various divisions.”

SFS: “That means you’ve already successfully completed the program. Do you still remember the first module? How were you feeling at the time?”

Elena: “I remember that quite well – there was a bit of excitement surrounding that first module. There were 20 participants from different countries and divisions in our group. The first order of business was to get to know one another – both professionally and personally. Opportunities to do that were also incorporated quite well into the course since there were plenty of opportunities to chat during workshops and discussion rounds. We addressed topics like strategy and vision, communication and talent development.”

SFS: “What do you think about SFS offering leadership training programs like these in-house?”

Elena: “Of course, conducting in-house versions of programs like this lets SFS customize the content and align that content with its own corporate values and strategies. That makes it possible to conduct very practical discussions and apply insights to specific real-world examples. It also promotes networking among the participants along with communication beyond a person’s own site or division.”

Group work during ALDP

SFS: “Would you prefer training / continuing education with external participants? Where do you see advantages and disadvantages?”

Elena: “That depends entirely on what prompted the continuing education. Sometimes it can be beneficial to view things from another perspective and get new food for thought from people who have nothing to do with your own company. You gain insights into other companies and take those inspirations back to your own workplace.

On the other hand, course contents can’t be customized to the same degree for training with external participants. Similarly, specific questions can only be responded to with fairly general answers. That means there isn’t nearly as much practical relevance and the atmosphere might not be as intimate as at an in-house training session. But since SFS deliberately also gets external coaches involved in the ALDP modules, I think both the internal and external perspectives are taken into account.”

SFS: “Which aspect of the program did you think was particularly good? Which topics help you in your day-to-day work?”

Elena: “We all have different educational backgrounds, some of them are more technical, others more commercial. But we don’t have any leadership training. This program taught us about what leadership means at SFS and also gave us a few tools that will help us in our day-to-day lives. Being able to draw on those for guidance feels good.”

SFS: “What were your expectations of the program? Were they met?”

Elena: “When the theoretical portion is over, that’s when the hands-on work begins. I think that the things I learned during the training sessions will be beneficial to me in my daily work. And the same thing also applies to networking with other colleagues from our group. It’s undoubtedly extremely helpful that we’ve built up a little international network through this program. In that respect, my expectations have already been met in full.”

Elena Scholand, Product Launch Manager in Germany

SFS: “Any last comments or conclusions?”

Elena: “Overall, I’d give it an absolutely positive review! We learned a lot of new things during the three modules and had a lot of fun at the same time, especially because the program was so varied. Each module saw us growing closer together as a team. At the end, we thought it was a pity that the time had flown by so quickly. Luckily, our network and our contact with one another will continue to remain intact going forward.”

Contact & Services


Beatrice Gyger