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Creating synergies across different levels of management and tapping into high potential


"In 2010 Arnout Damen, a third-generation leader of Damen Shipyards launched a focus on more synergy between the 32 shipyards that form the company.

Up until a few years before that the shipyards have worked on their own and there were no tangible benefits to being such an international company.

The new global HR director realized that the current leaders grew within one part of the company which made identifying the future leaders challenging.

The company had no leadership programme or infrastructure in place at the time.

In order to create and accelerate the synergy, the leaders needed to have more exposure to the company’s international environment.

A framework needed to be developed, and a partner was needed that could come in and deliver fast results."


"The Global HR director had worked with Krauthammer before and knew how Krauthammer could help him achieve this objective. Together, the leadership development programme was designed. It proved to be a rolling target requiring a lot of flexibility and learning-on-the-go. High Potential candidates were identified from several shipyards in the company who were approximately 2-3 years with Damen.

Not only these future leaders were trained, their managers were also given attention in order to coach them and accompany them through the process. The idea was not only to raise the quality of the work and grow talent internally but also for managers to identify, to know and meet that talent.

At the beginning of the programme the managers and high potentials could informally exchange on their idea of leadership. This has been a major change and when the leaders met for the first time they were addressed by Arnout Damen who expressed his vision and everybody could feel the support of the senior management.

The final programme for the high potentials was a programme of a year with four topics and a strategic challenge. The topics were personal leadership, working in a (project) team, connective leadership, influencing and A very important element of the training was that it contained a strategic part.

The training participants had to develop innovative solutions for strategic challenges the board had identified in the company. During the closure of the programme the participants had to present their solutions to the board members.negotiation."


"The voices about the programme have been very positive. This was the first time within Damen Shipyards that the board was involved with young leaders. Also, the learning and development has gained traction in the company and it started right at the basis (young potentials) and could grow through the company in the future.

Bringing the strategic challenges to the programme has helped to find innovative solutions. As the participants were trained in presenting their case well and communities were created around various topics this created large impact and awareness in the organization. Many parts of the programme have been very new for Damen and a cultural shift, yet proven to be key for a successful continuation. For example, the informal exchanges on leadership or the CEO of the company and the board being actively involved in the programme.

And it goes much further: Nowadays the alumni of the programme are in different positions around the company and are now identifying the future potentials too.

Working with Krauthammer and especially the account manager has been the key to the success of the programme. There was a sharp head start due to the knowledge and experience At the moment the alumni group has approximately 70 young potentials, who moved to other positions or are asked to work on different strategic projects happening in the company. They are also easily identified by the management. Damen Shipyards continued to develop its potential further through various programmes that build on this foundation."