John Whiterow
CFO and Head of Strategy Visa CEMEA

"Visa has always been an organisation that hires highly talented and motivated people with strong technical expertise in their respective fields. It was clear that we could do more with this deep talent pool to achieve our goals if we provided personal leadership skills to complement their professional capabilities.

As a new region with a vast geographical area and limited resources Visa International faced considerable challenges. We were in an ongoing state of transition and needed people to be able to respond quickly and flexibly to evolving customer needs and frequent organisational change.

There was little space in these circumstances to cushion the impact of inefficiency. It was very important that people were able to communicate well across organisational boundaries and to resolve differences quickly without escalating up the hierarchy. We wanted staff to take the initiative in building relationships and resolving issues themselves.

With this in mind we initiated an EDP (Employee Development Programme) for individual contributors who had no formal management role, but whose success depended nonetheless on getting things done through working relationships with others.

People went through six integrated modules that reflected the principles of the leadership training we were running in parallel, and more importantly that mixed different parts of the organisation. It was critical to bring people together who would normally not get the chance to meet face to face.

The skill building was largely around personal accountability and interpersonal skills. It included communication, teamwork, customer service and how to approach each other to give the best chance for collaboration and teamwork to happen.

The EDP was designed specifically to fit our business and corporate including research visits to our key markets and customers.

There is no doubt that people became more resourceful, accountable and engaged as a result of this work. Alongside the improvement in capability we also noticed a greater confidence in our employees. It gave them the courage to take ownership of situations, and the confidence that they would have the backing of the organisation to do so."