An award-winning learning solution is creating Jardine Matheson’s future CEOs

Oct 27, 2023 | Case studies, Development, Home Featured

An early career programme at Jardine Matheson is attracting and retaining talent, building a pipeline of future leaders and upskilling employees for the future of work, explains Development Beyond Learning.

At Development Beyond Learning (DBL) we harness our expertise in behavioural science and psychology to equip the leaders of tomorrow with the uniquely human skills needed to thrive in the future of work.

DBL has partnered with Jardine Matheson (Jardines) since 2018 to reimagine, design, deliver and continuously improve the Jardines Executive Trainee Scheme (JETs) three-year learning programme.

This year, DBL and Jardines together won the ISE Award 2023 for Outstanding Employer and Supplier Development Partnership.

The ambition

Jardines needed scalable learning solutions to attract and retain talent, build a pipeline of future leaders, as well as reskill and upskill employees for the future of work.

The JETs programme has been in existence in some way since 1994. In more recent years the target intake numbers have been increased and there needed to be a conscious shift to play on some of the existing strengths of the programme such as the pride and support of the community of JETs.

In addition, focus was needed to address some of the areas causing turnover. For example how to ensure that there was consistency of experience and a clarity on journey and destination of this strategic talent pool.

JETs is a leadership focused early career talent programme. The overarching purpose is to develop future leaders of the business units, brands and functions in the Jardines’ portfolio. Ultimately Jardines want to see their talent on this programme developing into CEOs.

The solution

Jardines, in partnership with their largest development partner DBL, created EMBARK. This is a unique programme designed to develop future leaders and general managers of the businesses in its vast portfolio. Since 2018 the EMBARK programme has been redesigned to build a more intentional development opportunity.

In order to commence the development of the programme, Jardines first needed clarity about the success profile at the end of the journey – being a general manager.

This was created using a process of interviews with senior management who had been developed internally or hired externally.

The outcome was a Success Profile along with a Critical Experience framework. These enabled those on the programme as well as those who support them to be very clear what was required to ensure that there was more intentional direction in their career journey.

Further key elements:

• To ensure that the learning experience is effective, the ongoing focus of the programme was on aiding learning transfer, driving real behaviour change, and ensuring a healthy balance between sharing robust behavioural science and having fun!

• DBL proposed making Jardine’s general managers more closely integrated into the programme, bringing to life their role throughout – because ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’.

• DBL introduced Habit Nudges: Bite sized coaching snippets for JETs, married with supervisor nudges to remind and engage supervisors and JETs throughout their journeys.

• DBL initiated the Leadership Lab to help JETs see the real application of the skills taught during the sessions, which provided JETs with real world experiences in a simulated environment and equipped them to effectively solve problems.

• The programme integrated DBL’s design methodology, INCAS (Interactive, Narrative, Contextualised, Actionable, Scientific) to ensure the learning is engaging and relevant.


The programme development has been innovative in a number of ways:

• The use of a Critical Experience framework and Success Profile as the main backbone of the programme.

• Being able to tailor and individualise experiences through the programme using classroom experiences, virtual masterclasses, Jardines’ development platform (where development materials and programmes are accessible on demand), development assessment tools, feedback and coaching on demand.

• Using business representatives to focus efforts on Leadership Labs where real problems are solved and feedback given in addition to direct feedback about leadership style.

• The use of projects and the implementation of PACE Methodology – Jardines’ preferred methodology for making change using design thinking. By using JETs they can carry this practice to a broad set of businesses.

• The focus is not limited to JETs. A full programme to support supervisors was also built. This involves an extremely popular Coaching for Supervisors programme.

• When designing the programme, consideration was made to where experienced business leaders could participate to contextualise the experience. Examples include sharing case studies, fireside chats, panels and providing feedback. Project ambassadors and project sponsors are also used to provide context, and feedback has been strong about these sessions.

• Involvement of the JETs themselves in the design process – JETs who had completed their programme or were part of the programme were involved in the design process. This enabled real context to be brought in and direct feedback about their experiences in the learning journey. This is an ongoing process.

• Using the original hiring data and now some of the performance reviews, which assess the Success Profile areas, we are beginning to show direct feedback about JETs performance and development.

• Utilising recruitment data we have been able to tailor the programme to ensure that the main stakeholders – JETs for each cohort – are being given relevant content that matters most to their development. It has also enabled us to deliver content in a way that will appeal directly to their strengths.

The impact

The success of JETs cohorts since 2018 lies in the seamless partnership and collaborative approach of both parties, learning and iterating as each cohort develops. As head of early careers and group coaching at Jardines, Anna Champion, put it “the partnership between DBL and Jardines is like an extension to our team.”

The success of the reimagined programme is borne out in retention data.

Since 2018 there has only been one leaver in year one of the programme and the retention level at year three of the JETS programme is higher than the Institute of Student Employers’ benchmark.

It is also a marked improvement since before the programme was re-invented:
• 98% retained at the end of year 1
• 92% still with Jardines at the end of year 2
• 83% retained at the end of year 3
• Previously it was at 61 % retention at the end of the programme (year 3)

Demand for the programme has also increased and continues to do so. Over the last three years, over 28,000 applications have been received for the JET programme, with an offer ratio of 580 candidates per each hire made. This is in comparison to the Institute of Student Employers’ benchmark of 62 per hire.

In the most recent end of year performance review, 53% of JETs awarded the highest score of 4 (you’re outstanding) and 47% scored 3 (you’re doing a good job).

Importantly, feedback from the JETs themselves has been glowing, with 86% giving a positive response for ‘Would you recommend the JET programme to others’.

Although the full success of the programme will emerge as the talent continue to grow in their new positions, the roles that the JETs are now graduating into are more meaningful than ever.

There is more consistency and structure to the programme and it is clear that the JETs are having more consistent experiences.

Moreover, we take pride in the fact that the demand for JETs from the Jardines businesses is now larger than the intake of JETs themselves.

Information is now available for the ISE Awards 2024

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