Twinings - developing leaders of the future

“The programme has given me the confidence to be an authentic leader. What I learnt will stay with me for the whole of my career.” Vicky Keenan, Head of Brand UK & Ireland

Case studies

Twinings has been serving generations of tea-lovers since 1706. Today, around 3,500 Twinings employees across the world source, blend, pack and sell fine teas and infusions. Headquartered in Andover, Hampshire, Twinings was a family-run company until its acquisition by Associated British Foods (ABF) in the mid-1960s.

Developing leaders of the future

Twinings has been running its International Leadership Development Programme (ILDP) since 2008. Head of Talent Development Elizabeth Edwards explains why the programme was first introduced, “We don’t believe in prescribing what leadership looks like at Twinings. Instead, we want to inspire managers to create their own ‘recipe’ for leadership, in the context of our business values, to help drive Twinings into a successful future.” 

An International Leadership Development Programme

Every year the company’s talent review process identifies a cohort of around 20 managers from across the international business to join the one-year programme. This gives all countries and business units collective access to a consistently high quality programme.

A former delegate herself, Elizabeth notes, “As no off-the-shelf training course ever could, ILDP breaks down organisational siloes to create a common language around leadership across different cultures.”

The selected delegates undertake a carefully planned blend of personal preparation, leading up to a workshop in the UK. Follow-up work, with coaching and a shorter workshop, then helps delegates to integrate what they have learnt into their daily working lives.

Influential leaders building self-belief

The week-long workshop is central to the programme. Elizabeth comments, “Lane4 draw on sport and elite performance, not just as an engaging metaphor but as an experiential and practical model for leadership excellence. This enables delegates to transfer learning directly into action.”

Programme delegate Vicky Keenan, Head of Brand UK & Ireland, agrees, saying, “One of the many things that makes the programme so innovative is the involvement of Olympic medallists – they know a thing or two about overcoming self-doubt! We were encouraged to set up our own ‘belief wall’, a repository of everything we’re good at, which we can draw on when the going gets tough.”

The workshop features ‘guest appearances’ from senior Twinings and ABF leaders and their contribution plays a major role in ensuring the workshop experience stays topical.

Key benefits of the programme

  • Ensuring management quality – 77% of responses in the annual employee survey are favourable to leadership as a category (a point higher than the benchmark norm).

  • Retaining good people – 74% of programme delegates have stayed with the company.

  • Building a talent pipeline – 42% of retained delegates have been promoted to more challenging roles, within Twinings and the wider ABF group.

The programme has recently been awarded Bronze for Best Training Partnership at 2016 Training Journal Awards.

“The programme provides the time and focus that future leaders need. Consequently, our rates of growth are far superior to other FMCG companies.”

Simon Brocket, Global HR Director Twinings