McCain Foods Limited is a privately held multinational producer and
distributor of frozen food. Incorporated in New Brunswick, Canada,
in 1957 with 30 employees and one French fry plant, the company now
operates on six continents and employs 20,000 people. Its two
divisions - retail and food service - provide a range of frozen
foods to supermarkets and restaurants around the world. It produces
frozen potato products, and its plants process more than one
million pounds of potato products each hour.
Like many large global enterprises pursuing growth strategies in a
competitive world environment, McCain Foods depends on a skilled
workforce, and has identified and targeted the development of
specific skill sets.
The Asia Pacific region is a high-growth market for McCain Foods,
so the company must develop strong leadership skills in this
region. In 2009, the McCain Learning Centre, the company's central
learning function, brought together employees from Taiwan, China,
India, Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam
to take part in a training program called "Leadership Essentials."
"We believe that these sessions are key to ensuring that the
leaders in the Asia Pacific region have the skills to help us reach
our growth potential and lead the markets there," says Mary
McNevin, global director of the McCain Learning Centre.
The Leadership Essentials curriculum was designed to teach the company's leadership model and to build skills to inspire leadership, teamwork, and people development. It employs a "leaders as teachers" philosophy, in keeping with the model established by CEO Dale Morrison and CHRO, Janice Wismer, who jointly host a quarterly leadership session for the most senior levels of the organization, serving as teachers-in-chief.
All company leaders are responsible for the development of others
and for transmitting the company's values and goals. These
leadership skills and behaviors are deemed essential for the
company's success. "We train our leaders to inspire results,
develop people, be role models, and create the future," says
With operations in almost 40 countries, the company faced a
challenge when trying to teach its leadership model to employees
whose first language was not English. A needs assessment of the
company's global leaders revealed gaps in comprehension and in the
ability to participate fully in leadership sessions conducted by
Morrison and other English-speaking executives. The assessment also
showed that these key employees were spending time struggling to
communicate in English in emails, reports, and meetings.
In 2008, McCain began to offer Englishas- a-Second-Language (ESL)
training to top-level employees in 36 countries where the company
had plants and operations. This group completed about 4,500 hours
of English language training through an online service from Global
English. The 266 active users completed an average of 39.35 hours
of training. Measurable and specific productivity gains were
reported by learners who saved an average of approximately 1.39
hours per week on emails, presentations, and meetings due to
improved English skills. The total productivity gain by the
employees who took the ESL courses was estimated at $556,900.
To win in the marketplace and achieve profitable growth, McCain
Foods depends on having a skilled salesforce. To enhance sales
results, improve customer satisfaction, and build future leaders,
the company invested in sales training. In December 2008, the
Centre introduced "Selling the McCain Way," a program designed to
promote consistent selling processes throughout the company and
enhance the skills and competencies of the salesforce. As with the
company's Leadership Essentials program, it uses a "leaders as
teachers" format to train sales representatives, merchandisers, and
the company's strategic partners in key selling skills. The program
is delivered in English, French, Spanish, Japanese, Greek, and