Client Profile

Industry Sector: Agrochemicals (Crop Protection and Seeds)
Location: Worldwide

The Challenge

Syngenta have 28,000 employees and they operate in 90 countries around the world. a&dc has been working with their Research & Development (R&D) function for over a decade and last year we were asked to design a Career Development Centre (CDC) for three of their biggest regions: Europe, Africa and the Middle East (EAME), Latin America (LATAM) and Asia Pacific (APAC).

The purpose of the CDC was to accelerate the development of those on the talent matrix who were aspiring to the first level of senior management across three very different functions: R&D, operations and commercial. It was important that the event was in line with Syngenta’s talent strategy. The key objectives were:

  • To improve business acumen and decision-making skills among this group of managers
  • To build specific leadership skills
  • To raise cultural awareness in order to equip the talents for success in working across different parts of the world

The Solution


The first step was working with Subject Matter Experts to identify what was different at Senior Management level in each of these functions and regions. We used the data gathered to consider which of Syngenta’s competencies we needed to measure and how best to achieve this.

Design of Career Development Centres

a&dc has created the world’s biggest range of over 200 exercises, so based on our analysis of the data, we were able to customise four simulation exercises to reflect the types of activities and interactions in which senior leaders are typically involved, providing a cost effective and bespoke solution for Syngenta. It was important that the exercises were fair and relevant to participants from a wide range of disciplines and cultures. We were therefore careful to ensure that the content was equally challenging for everyone and that it wasn’t an advantage to have any particular technical or regional knowledge. One exercise was set in China, one in the US, another in Germany and one was set in an international agency similar to the World Health Organisation.

In addition to the use of simulations, the process included a one-day workshop which focused on how participants could make the best use of their 360 feedback (completed in advance), how to create a personal development plan and how to maximise the benefit of coaching and mentoring.

Observer Training

We ran four of these CDC’s: two in Switzerland for talents from EAME and then one centre each in Singapore and Sao Paulo. For each event, a&dc provided a centre manager, who trained a group of senior leaders from the region to act as observers, to write reports and to give developmental behavioural feedback. Many of the observers commented that this training was valuable in terms of developing their own leadership skills as well as those of the participants. Ongoing improvements were made to the process between each centre, including increased automation of the report-writing process. For most of the observers, English was not their first language and so, by creating a standardised set of feedback comments, we were able to help them to produce high quality developmental feedback reports more quickly and accurately.

The Results

Each Participant received individual feedback from one of the Senior Leaders who had been observing them on the CDC and they were given a comprehensive report which summarised their key strengths and areas for development. They also began work on a Personal Career Development Plan.

94% of the Observers and 95% of the Participants described the quality of the feedback which was provided as either ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’ and the same percentage of Participants described their levels of personal development and motivation as ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’. Finally, 100% of the Participants said that their levels of Commitment to their future development were either ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’ as a result of having attended the centre.

Syngenta are very aware of the need to maintain the momentum created by the Career Development Centres and they are following best practice by providing ongoing coaching and a 12-month mentoring programme, as well as a focus on learning via secondments, job shadowing and involvement in business projects.

What the client says

a&dc did an outstanding job, building on their ten year history of working with Syngenta to rapidly build a new Development Centre to meet our changing business needs and to evolve the design with us as we learned through the process.  The overall feedback from CDC participants, observers and other senior leaders involved during the Centres has been excellent. a&dc’s responsiveness and personal commitment to results was particularly key to this successful implementation.”

Emma Jung, Global Head People & Organization Development Delivery, Syngenta