Have you ever looked forward to leading your own team when joining a company, only to be relegated to training and coursework? To be dismissed as a junior manager-in-training by senior management? To be told “you don’t have enough experience yet, just shadow your manager for another year before trying it out”?
At Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food China, we take a different approach to developing talent through our Future Stars Programme (FSP), which grooms candidates for leadership roles through job rotation, hands-on project management, and mentorship with senior management.
Arthur Wang was looking for new direction in his career when he saw the call for FSP online. Having studied science and engineering, and coming from a research analyst position in healthcare, it was a challenge for him to pursue his interest in sales and marketing due to his lack of relevant experience.
“I used to think maybe I would become a scientist or researcher. But after two years in my previous field, I gradually realised that was not my ambition – I was not satisfied simply inventing a new product or analysing some quality issue during the production as I felt like I was just a supporting function.”
After joining FSP in 2017, Arthur rotated from sales and marketing, to finance, and is appreciative about how much more he has learnt about businesses as a whole, “I learned how to understand the business via information like sales reports, factory costs, and profit and loss statements. What I really appreciate is that I am now involved in the whole lifecycle of a new product, not just in its creation, but also in how to produce and even market it.
The programme has given me a second chance in my career and brought me into a new world.”
Autonomy in projects
Crystal Liu found herself feeling unchallenged in her previous job which was highly routine and repetitive. With FSP, she immediately had the autonomy to co-manage a project.
“I was involved in the whole process of new product launch. From developing the product concept, to searching for original equipment manufacturers, quality management, to final listing. It helped me to build an overall marketing project mindset, improved my cross functional communication and stakeholder management skills.”
Having full autonomy over how to run her team and achieve the target, Crystal led her team to be among the top eight out of a hundred in a national new product distribution competition.
She believes FSP’s detailed and personalised rotation plan for each of the candidates really made a difference to her development. “At each key milestone, there was a one-on-one job performance review with our mentors, which gave me more inspiration and made me think more deeply about my work.
“With clear guidance given to us by our CEO and HR, I can actually see how I have improved.”
We intentionally give Future Stars high levels of autonomy. Real-world conditions provide them with valuable leadership experience, crucial for their future careers.
Direct touchpoint with senior management
When Will Yao signed up for FSP, he was pleasantly surprised by the amount of attention and mentorship provided by senior management, especially from CEO, Jerry Zhou.
“The whole company pays great attention to the programme, and Jerry, as our mentor, gives us comprehensive instructions for both business and life.”
Arthur echoed this sentiment, “Even when Jerry was very busy, he still found time to teach us valuable lessons. From my point of view, he was not just a CEO in the company, but a strong motivator and teacher. I learned a lot from both the project and our mentor himself.”
Our senior executives’ attention to the FSP candidates reflects the company’s investment in the programme. We believe in nurturing talents, because the people make the organisation. Without strong leaders, the company cannot deliver quality, certified sustainable palm oil to the world.
Insight into the FMCG industry
Stan Zhu was always interested in the Fast Moving Consumer Good (FMCG) industry while working as an account executive in advertising. FSP was a good chance for him to learn more about this massive industry that is worth nearly $200 billion in China alone.
“I was provided with the opportunity to learn about the business operations of Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food China, and offered plenty of knowledge about the FMCG industry in general.”
With decades of experience in the commodities and FMCG industry, the company understands the importance of imparting knowledge and expertise to candidates like Stan and the other Future Stars. Doing so accelerates their learning and growth into true leaders, helping to bring the company to greater heights
More about the Future Stars Programme
The Future Stars Programme is designed to develop commercial leaders of tomorrow and support the growth of our business in China. Applicants must have at least two to three years of working experience to apply.
For 36 months, candidates rotate within several departments such as field operations, sales and marketing, human resources, etc. to build up their professional business skills and leadership competency. They are given opportunities to lead teams and projects from the get-go, while receiving direct guidance from the CEO and undergoing leadership training.
If you would like to learn more about the programme, please visit the Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food China LinkedIn page here.
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