The challenge:

Whitbread owns Premier Inn, the UK’s biggest hotel brand, and other food and beverage brands including Bar + Block, Beefeater and Thyme Bar + Grill. The company has people at its heart, employing almost 30,000 in more than 1,200 Premier Inn hotels and restaurants across the UK.
Leading Edge have supported Whitbread with its Leading the Whitbread Way Programme since 2019. Through discussion with Finance leaders on the programme, we are now running a dedicated Finance Graduate Programme that aims to develop and build a community for these graduates during their 3-year journey in the organisation.
Through this programme, Leading Edge supports the Finance graduates to develop as individuals and to prepare as future Whitbread leaders.

What we delivered:

This is a 3-year rolling programme delivered as quarterly events. Finance graduates in Years 1, 2 and 3 come together at themed workshops to develop business and personal skills as a community.
We design and deliver four workshops annually around set themes, with the themes adapted each year to make sure development builds and content is relevant, wherever the graduate is in their 3-year cycle.
The annual programme kicks off with an in-person one-day event focused on strengths and looking to the future in terms of gaining clarity around the journey they want to go on.
In workshops two and three, we develop skills and behaviours through virtual sessions. We base content on our Point of View on Performance Wellbeing to bring these themes to life, exploring resiliency in a high-performing environment and supporting the graduates with increased self-awareness to help them perform at their best.
The final quarterly session is scenario based. By engaging delegates in workplace-based scenarios, we provide opportunities for them to apply their collective intelligence and put to good use the skills developed in the first three workshops.
Line manager involvement is an important running thread around each workshop to set the delegates up for success going into and coming out of each session. Priming activities, line manager briefings and email contact from the Leading Edge Team Coach all play their part in helping to ensure strong connectivity throughout the development journey.

The results achieved:

• Our partnership with Whitbread on the Leading the Whitbread Way Programme is helping to immerse the Finance graduates in consistent leadership language on this journey with a focus on their futures as leaders.
• Delegates overwhelmingly describe the positive benefit of having the time and space to be self-reflective and engaging in meaningful conversations about development, particularly coming out of the pandemic.
• Feedback has highlighted the significance of being part of a growing community and having the opportunity to talk to like-minded individuals knowing they have the same worries, life moments and challenges.
• Finance graduates have described the workshop environment as relaxed and encouraging creativity, with content viewed as engaging and versatile – and applicable to all at different career stages.

“Leading Edge’s approach to this Finance Graduate Programme is making sure that the content is relevant and engaging, wherever the graduate is on their 3-year journey. At Whitbread, we want to build communities for graduates and support them to develop as future leaders. The feedback we’re receiving about this programme tells us that we’re supporting our Finance graduates in a way that’s working for them – and that’s fantastic to hear.”

- Oliver Gallagher, International Financial Controller, Whitbread

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