Preparing Tomorrow’s CEO: Our Associate Development Program

“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” ~ Harvey S. Firestone

We value our Associate Development program and use it as a platform to build our future pipeline of leaders.  We believe leadership is the art of helping people achieve things they didn’t think was possible, and in the process, build companies that enable everyone to be proud.

Accordingly, we have made developing our Associates a top priority, best accomplished through a model that allows them to learn through direct, hands-on experiences as early on in their careers as possible.

Amy Fields, Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at HBM articulates the scope and breadth of the firm’s Associate Development program: “HBM’s Associate program is differentiated in that it provides a blended approach of rotational development experiences alongside corporate development exposure. This unique combination, paired with access to senior leaders early in the program, serves as the foundation for our General Management track. Top talent who demonstrate leadership initiative, are geographically mobile, and who are eager to learn will have opportunities to grow their career quickly within HBM’s portfolio of companies.”

We take the time and specifically tailor each individual’s program, as not everyone’s skill set, competencies or interests are alike.  We have found this approach to be successful in developing each of our Associates into leadership roles within the organization.

Although each Associate’s development is individualized, the overall program has key common elements.  During the first two years of the program, the Associates are exposed to our processes, our businesses, and our culture.  They are given the opportunity to work on corporate development assignments as well as internal consulting projects where they interact frequently with senior leaders at our businesses and at our firm.  Each consulting assignment provides the Associates with an opportunity to build an internal network, gain business insight, and deliver meaningful results to the business.

From our experience, the program is atypical of what a recent MBA graduate would expect to experience in a traditional corporate development or rotational management program.  Our Associates are given the opportunity early on to work closely with senior members of our businesses as well at the holding company level.  These experiences are not acquired in a passive capacity; Associates are expected to make meaningful contributions early on.

The work is meaningful and the feedback is quick, which allows participants to be constantly learning and gaining confidence along the way.  One of our current Associates, Adam Silver, explains his early experience with working on his first acquisition target at HBM:

“The due diligence work I performed to help prep our team appropriately understand the business, the industry and to speak intelligently with the management team was a bit overwhelming.  I worked directly with our CEO and CFO to evaluate the business and make recommendations on how to move forward with the potential acquisition.  Given it was one of my early deals with HBM, I was not positive if I took the correct approach.  But the overwhelmingly positive feedback I received regarding the level of analysis, as well the sophistication we demonstrated were a direct product of the preparation that was undertaken.  It gave me confidence moving forward in future deals and has helped me be more vocal for those deals in which I wish to strongly advocate for.”

Is it a tough program? Yes.  Is there a strong support system in place to ensure Associates feel comfortable making suggestions? Yes.

Upon completion of the Associate Program, employees continue their development by moving into a series of roles embedded in our businesses.  Daniel Wright, the Vice President of Corporate Development, explains his vision for the development of HBM’s Associates:

“We would love for our Associates to eventually assume a management-level role at one of the portfolio companies.  The program is designed to allow them to gain exposure to different aspects of running a business: commercial, supply chain and operations. A team environment and coaching my team members to excel in their roles is a perfect challenge for me.”

Our investment pays off on both sides of the equation.  Our Associates gain critical leadership and general management skills through a combination of functional exposure and leadership challenges that prepare them for future roles as business leaders.  Simultaneously, we build the future leadership of our enterprise.