SUPERVALU, Inc., an American Retail store, felt the need for a better mechanism to hire and train entry-level professional people so that they could do the job better. Thus, they developed a Professional Development Program (PDP) to attract, train, and retain college graduates. Though this changed a lot on how they operated, but it also came with its own set of challenges and short-comings.
Francis J. Aguilar
Harvard Business Review (900019-PDF-ENG)
November 22, 1999
Case questions answered:
- Describe in brief the Professional Development Program (PDP). Why was it needed and in which ways was it effective or ineffective?
- Give some of your recommendations to Supervalu to enhance the PDP Program.
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Case answers for SUPERVALU, Inc.: Professional Development Program
Executive Summary – SUPERVALU, Inc.: Professional Development Program Case Study
SUPERVALU, Inc., an American Retail store, felt the need for a better mechanism to hire and train entry-level professional people so that they could do the job better. They felt that they lacked the ability to bring new people on board or groom them for effectiveness and growth. The current efforts in recruiting training and retention of college graduates had not been showing desired results. Thus, they developed a Professional Development Program (PDP) to attract, train, and retain college graduates. Though this changed a lot on how they operated, but it also came with its own set of challenges and short-comings.
Supervalu Inc. is an American retailing company that has been in business for over a century. It is the third-largest food retailing company in the United States. The company supplied approximately 4,400 independent retail food stores in 48 states and operated 345 corporate stores. SUPERVALU, Inc., with annual revenues of $17.4 billion and 50,000 full-time and part-time staff for the fiscal year ended on February 28, 1999, was the nation’s leading grocery distribution firm and the 12th largest food retailer.
Mission– ‘To be a world-class distributor and retailer of food, pharmaceuticals, and general merchandise via grocery driven business.’
Corporate Philosophy –‘Total commitment to serving customers more effectively than anyone else could serve them.’
It acquired RichFood holdings and wanted to use acquisitions and internal growth as its corporate strategy for growth in wholesale as well as retail sectors.
1. Describe in brief the Professional Development Program (PDP). Why was it needed, and in which ways was it effective or ineffective?
The PDP had been designed to attract and prepare high-potential college graduates for successful management careers in the Distribution, retail, and corporate activities within SUPERVALU, Inc. Cimmerer, who had extensive experience with training programs in other businesses, rapidly developed a plan to recruit, train, and retain high potential college graduates. The PDP is a rotation-based program for exposure to the corporation. It is two years on the job training and development program for new college graduates.
The entry positions for the four career ladders included: warehouse supervisor in Distribution; technical buyer in Category Management; department manager in retail; and corporate accountant, inventory analyst, human resource specialist, regional business analyst, or programmer in Corporate.
Need of PDP
- Supervalu was in need of a comprehensive program to attract, recruit, hire, retain, and train employees in the core business units.
- Supervalu needed to increase efficiency by integrating some functions between different retail brands and gain economies of scale.
- Advise the organization to do a better job of getting the entry-level employees into the key business units. The business did not do a good job of recruiting new employees or training them for advancement within the organization.
- The company did not do a good enough job of bringing new people on board or of grooming them for growth and effectiveness.
- Prior efforts to improve recruiting, training, and retention of college graduates had been executed in fits and started with disappointing results.
- The Recent Graduate Training Program needed changes in order to align with SUPERVALU’s emerging organizational context. (Revealed in the initial meeting of March 13, 1998 )
Benefits of the PDP