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Southwire Leadership Academy Fosters Emerging Leaders

Southwire’s sustainable vision reaches to the very core of its people, their talent and their potential to succeed in the future. As the company continues to grow, we aim to further enhance the skills of the existing workforce and help foster and develop newly acquired talent.

Through the company’s Management Succession and Development plan, Southwire’s talent management team met with senior leadership in each division to identify key leadership functions that require a sustainable pipeline of talent for the future, and to recognize individuals who have shown the potential to advance into those roles.

Those selected as key talent were then matched with the five Essences of Southwire, a group of leadership attributes created by our board of directors and chief executive officer to outline the identity that defines and differentiates Southwire leadership from other organizations.

“These are the traits that make Southwire different,” said Bryan Preston, vice president of talent management. “We want our leaders to do these things, so we need to figure out where the gaps exist, where we want to be and where we are.”

From this assessment, Southwire identified some common areas for acceleration, and the talent management team began to organize the Southwire Leadership Academy, a full week of internal development for company vice presidents. The 2014 curriculum focused on five key development opportunities. Key content highlights from the event included participation in the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument® (HBDI) assessment; a one-day concise messaging exercise; business and collaboration strategy panels; an emotional capital workshop; and a change management simulation.

The HBDI assessment, intended to provide perspective on individual thinking and communication preferences, leverages the connection between rationale and performance as related to the “whole brain” approach.

“For me, one key takeaway from the event related to our HBDI profiles. Understanding your personal thinking preferences enables you to optimize your ability to adapt your thinking, decision making or communication style to a given situation,” said Kelly Hanson, vice president of marketing for Southwire’s Energy Division. “As leaders, it is important to understand your preferences so you can customize your management style to each individual.”

Participants were also provided the opportunity to engage with Southwire’s chairman of the board and company shareholder, Roy Richards Jr., as well as Southwire’s president and chief executive officer Stu Thorn.

“It says a lot about Southwire, our senior executives and Roy to make a week-long commitment to develop this group,” said Jason Powell, vice president of finance. “As leaders, we are typically not used to investing in ourselves, but Southwire is very serious about building talent. Through events like the Leadership Academy, we’re being provided with the tools in the tool box to improve ourselves and develop future leaders.”­

Moving forward, the intent for the Southwire Leadership Academy is to cultivate potential leaders at many levels within the organization as well as provide continuing opportunities for former participants.

“We want our participants to understand that they are special to Southwire and integral to our overall success as a business, but also that they maintain a high level of responsibility,” said Preston. “We’ll continue to develop those who attend the Leadership Academy at our Alumni Experience, which will be a much higher level of collaboration and teamwork in a much shorter period of time.”

The Alumni Experience includes an assignment referred to as “CEO for the Day,” in which participants are asked to create a plan to achieve a high-level company goal and present that plan to a mock board of directors within a limited timeframe. As in an actual CEO environment, participants are faced with unexpected circumstances throughout the exercise in which they must learn to adapt to succeed.

“There is a genuine desire by the company to invest in the people, and I feel fortunate to be a part of that,” said Brad Tuggle, vice president of finance for Southwire’s Industrial Division. “The more equipped your people are to make decisions, the better off your company will be in the long-term, and I believe we have that at Southwire.”