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Innovation & Creativity

Sony Europe's tips for building business acumen

Sony Europe's tips for building business acumen
Published: July 10, 2023
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Christoph Williams, Head of Talent and Leadership Development at Sony Europe shares an approach to deepening business acumen. This isn't done in a classroom, or through an in-house business project – it's done by consulting on real business issues for an organisation external to Sony.

Right people, right skills, right roles, right time!

At Sony Europe, we understand just how important it is to have the right people, with the right skills, in the right roles at the right time. This means that our leaders of tomorrow are equipped with the knowledge, confidence and support they require to excel personally, as well as nurture high-performing teams.

Creating a talent pipeline

In order to make sure that we are identifying and upskilling the right people, our HR learning and development team have established a series of leadership development programmes targeted at different management levels. The overall aim is to create a 'talent pipeline' to build and hone leadership capability across Sony Europe.

One such programme is the Senior (Technical) Leadership Development Programme. Over two years participants complete eight modules covering a range of leadership topics, including innovation and DE&I. The final module focuses on external business closeness.

External business closeness – challenging the status quo

The external business closeness module is designed to deepen participants' business acumen. It does this by requiring them to provide consulting on real business issues to an organisation other than Sony.

The latest cohort partnered with the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), a not-for-profit company which works across Britain's railway to improve safety, efficiency and sustainability. The module was facilitated by Impact. 

RSSB asked the Sony delegates to provide potential solutions for challenges they were facing:

  1. Unlocking commercial opportunities
  2. Achieving more with their R&D budgets
  3. How to use AI to enhance data insights
  4. How to take advantage of immediate and longer-term technical opportunities

The participants chose to work in four teams, one for each challenge. They visited RSSB's London offices to conduct interviews with key members of staff to learn more about the company and to uncover potential opportunities for innovation.

Each team then submitted a podcast in response to their challenge, which were reviewed by RSSB's Executive Team.

A team of senior leaders from RSSB then joined the Sony participants and senior leaders for an interactive 'science fair' event at our Weybridge office, where each team shared their solutions to RSSB's challenges.

A shared positive experience

Here's how Sony Europe and RSSB benefited from the joint project:  

“Throughout the event, I was impressed by the positive engagement from the Sony participants and how, in a short space of time, they really got a good understanding of our business – so much so that their recommendations were sensible, practical and certainly thought provoking. They are an excellent bunch of people."

Paul McLaughin, Chief Operating Officer at RSSB 

“I was surprised how two organisations working in very different commercial markets have remarkably similar challenges. It was a great opportunity for our senior leaders to demonstrate their consulting skills and develop their commercial acumen. I am grateful to RSSB for allowing us to get so close to the reality of their business. This allowed us to really understand how they operate and share best practices to the benefit of both organisations."

Rick Londema, Head of European Consumer Sales and a senior programme sponsor at Sony Europe

About In Market Journeys

In Market Journeys are interactive experiences that bring leaders from (in this case) Sony Europe, with leaders from companies outside their industry. Impact designed this method of experiential learning to provide participants with an opportunity to lead a dialogue, gain ‘outside-in’ perspectives on issues that they might also be facing, or require them to apply their knowledge in a different context. 

“It was a privilege to co-design and facilitate Sony's Senior (Technical) Leadership Development Programme capstone event and I enjoyed introducing our two clients to each other for an In Market Journey. It truly sparked opportunities for innovation, creativity and future partnership working. And (as ever), both parties found the dialogue to be equally rewarding for their own leadership practice and organisation, making the methodology a win-win for both parties. We are already looking forward to next time!"

Sarah Brammeier, Senior Consultant, Impact

What's next?

If you'd like to find out more about Impact's In Market Journeys please drop us a line using the contact form below.

Read another case study from Sony Europe