SanomaWSOY ensures the capability of its organisation to face situations of change and new challenges for example by offering two high-quality training programs to its personnel in all units of the organisation. "We'll be able to achieve our ambitious objectives only by means of continuous development", says Aarno Heinonen, Senior Vice President, Administration and Finance.

When SanomaWSOY was established in spring 1999, it meant merging three companies with quite different corporate cultures. Following the CIG deal, the Group diversified in autumn 2001 in new geographical areas with different cultures and languages. The Group has set its strategic objectives high: pursuing dynamic growth, profitability and international expansion. To achieve these objectives, the organisation needs a common philosophy, a skill to speak the common language that will weld all parts of the Group together. The training programs known as SWEP - SanomaWSOY Executive Program - and JET, SanomaWSOY's special examination for professional management, were developed to respond to these needs.

"The decisions we make in our work are largely based on the corporate culture in which we operate. Training will give us insights to help us resolve matters in an innovative way", Mr. Heinonen describes the starting point of the training program.

SWEP encourages independent thinking

The first SWEP course started in April 2001 and the second in autumn 2002. The purpose of the training program is to spread the newest ideas about strategic approach, leadership and technological developments. The participants will get strategic thinking tools that will help them develop Group's strategic processes and react quickly to changes in the operating environment.

In fact, Training Manager Tuula Pöyhönen describes SWEP as a strategic discussion forum where participants can learn from prominent business experts and identify best practices for different strategic situations. The list of lecturers includes 14 names of globally known experts who represent many sectors of business life: Chakravarthy, Tushman, Kets de Vries...

"Since we want to be the number one in our chosen sectors, we also want to have the best available training. That's why we hire the world's best people to educate us", Mr. Heinonen explains the reason behind the imposing list of lecturers.

The SWEP course is largely based on learning from cases: most of the seminars analyse cases from real life close to the Group's industries. The participants can acquaint themselves with the case material beforehand.

"When we externalise the situations we can speak frankly without the constraints of our own immediate environment", Ms. Pöyhönen mentions. "The example case is always analysed in its entirety: the lecturer will explain what was done in the case company in real life. Finally the participants will analyse the question "and what would we do?" Ms. Pöyhönen says.

Students evaluate their own leadership qualities in JET

SanomaWSOY's special professional management examination has the same goals as SWEP but on a more operational level. The first JET course started in February 2001. The fifth JET that will begin in October will be the first international one with participants from six different countries.

Evaluation and development of one's own individual leadership skills is just as essential to all students as the development of their respective organisations. The students prepare their individual business plans, and sometimes there may be quite heated debates about the strategic choices.

- The primary benefit of an internal training program is that you can get an external comment while retaining confidentiality. Such an in-depth analysis would not be possible in an open training program", Ms. Pöyhönen says.

Networks are built during courses

Tuula Pöyhönen reminds that the essence of the training programs, in addition to their official goals, is the possibility to build networks and learn about the Group context of matters. After a shared training experience, everyone speaks the common language.

The members of the Group's Management Board have also completed the SWEP course, which has clearly added to the value of the training program.

"The dialog works in both directions", Ms. Pöyhönen points out. "The Management Group will learn about the views of the participants, and the participants will get answers to their questions directly."

The time span of the SWEP and JET training programs is four years. SanomaWSOY regards, however, personnel development as a permanent top priority:

"Since the world around us changes, our training must evolve, too. Demanding goals require a corresponding training investment", Mr. Heinonen concludes.

Professional training in business divisions

Training Manager Tuula Pöyhönen is responsible for the organisation of SanomaWSOY corporate level training programs. In her work, she gets support from the training supervision team that includes representatives from all divisions and that monitors also other training requirements of the Group.

Training aimed at improving actual professional skills is provided according to need for instance at Sanoma's editors' school and through the internal personnel and training organisations of the divisions.

Text: Eeva-Kaisa Heikura