The program of Leadership in Commodity Trade and Supply is developed to help young trading professionals with the next step in their careers. Goal of the program is to provide them with state of the art knowledge about the whole value chain, with the necessary leadership skills to become a trading manager.
To achieve this goal, the program is designed by four didactic starting points, which lead to instructional activities in three categories. First of all, throughout the year the participants will attend seven content driven modules that resemble a commodity trade transaction, plus one optional content driven module at the end of the program.
Second, during a two day program, the participants get masterclasses with case assignments related to the topic of that module. Secondly, an integral group assignment on Scenario Planning is part of the program. During this assignment the participants work together in teams on an real-life case assignment.
Thirdly, during the program the participants attend several leadership challenges; masterclasses focused on courage, negotiation and ethics and make personal leadership assignments in addition. Underneath an overview these concepts related to the program is presented. The didactic concepts and the relation with the instructional activities is further explained.
To become a leader in commodity trading it is necessary that young professionals develop a more holistic view on the commodity trading market. Therefore 7 content driven modules were designed, which resemble a commodity trade transaction. The theoretical knowledge presented in these courses always has a direct meaningful link with daily work of the participants. All instructional activities in the program are focused on improving the transfer of learning (which means that participants are able to use their learned knowledge in practice).
During each module there is not only theoretical knowledge from academic teachers presented, but there are also business professionals invited to present practical examples related to this specific module. This construction makes that the participants not only acquire a more holistic view on the commodity trading industry, but also know how to use this theoretical knowledge in their own daily work.
Another important part of the program is the integral assignment Scenario Planning, which is about dealing with uncertainties and the impact of making the wrong decisions. Scenario Planning originates from the military, but is nowadays often used by different companies (e.g. Shell) for developing different possible future scenarios and base decisions on this planning. With this assignment the participants not only learn to think across business lines, they practice with analyzing trends and long-term thinking. In other words, they learn to bring the outside-in. In this phase of their careers, most trading professionals will not have a lot experience with analyzing external factors and the possible consequences of these factors for their own businesses. By making this assignment, participants practice with long-term thinking and create a more holistic view on the trading business, which is crucial for making strategic decisions in their future careers. So, this assignment makes that participants use their newly gained theoretical knowledge in a meaningful realistic context.
To become future leaders in commodity trading market it is necessary for the participants to develop their leadership skills. Current business leaders define the following skills which are indispensable in their business: courage, negotiation skills, communicate in multicultural context and ethical awareness. We believe that people acquire these skills best, by giving them the opportunity to practice their skills throughout the year in different contexts. Therefore all participants can practice their skills in different instructional activities during the complete program.
All participants start the program with a personal assessment on the above mentioned soft skills. This is a baseline measurement which gives an indication of the current level of these skills, and forms the starting point for personal grow.
During each instructional activity, participants practice their leadership skills. They attend to Leadership Challenges, in Leadership Challenges which focus on one specific leadership skill at a time. During these challenges, participants can practice their skills in a safe environment. Furthermore, they work together on case assignments each module and they work on an integral assignment which endures the complete program. During these activities they practice their skills in a more realistic environment; they need to present assignments (courage), collaborate in an intercultural environment (communication) and make group decisions (negotiation). And the participants also have to make personal leadership assignments. These assignments make a link between the required leadership skills, the professional career of the participant and the theoretical content of that specific module.
We believe that people learn better when they share their ideas and discuss their knowledge with each other. New concepts are best learned and understood, when people actively use it. By creating group assignments, the participants have to discuss theories, explain their own opinion and listen to the viewing point of others. They acquire a better understanding of theoretical concepts, and know better how they can use their knowledge in their daily activities. The teacher is mainly a facilitator of interactivity during the courses.
The academic teacher designs realistic case assignments for his/her own module. During these assignments, the participants work together in groups to complete the assignment. During these assignments, the teacher stimulates group discussions and helps the participants to learn from each other. So participants get enough freedom to complete assignments as a group, and academic teachers can always give feedback on these discussions.
People learn better when they get enough space and possibilities to reflect on their own progress. Moments of reflections make that people understand what they already know and what they still need to learn. Reflection is not only necessary for people to improve their personal skills, it is also necessary to improve their organization. We believe that if the participants want to become future trading business leaders, the participants have to become reflective practitioners. During the program they learn to reflect on their own decisions and the consequences of their actions. By doing this, they learn to make better strategic decisions in the future.
The Personal Leadership Assignments, the case assignments and also the scenario planning assignment are regularly discussed and reflected during the program. This reflection is essential for the development of the participants. By reflecting upon the Personal Leadership Assignments they learn to understand which soft skills they already have, and which they still need to improve. By reflecting upon the case assignments, they also learn how they can use their newly gained knowledge during their daily activities. And by reflecting the integral assignment, the participants learn to think across their own business division. Which means they can better identify disruptions and uncertainties about the future of their business and synthesize these into scenarios and strategic implications.