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Taking graduate development in hand

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Massmart has taken a unique approach to the scarce skills challenge — by establishing its own virtual corporate university.
Pearl Maphoshe, Group Human Capital Executive at Massmart, says in its quest to become the most trusted retailer in Africa, Massmart is actively delivering business-aligned learning programmes to strengthen the leadership pipeline and to address scarce and critical roles in the organisation.
Why are business-focused learning programmes necessary? Massmart’s brands include Game, DionWired, Builderswarehouse, Builders Trade Depot, Builders Express, Builders Superstore, Makro, Fruitspot, Cambridgefood, Cash & Carry, Jumbo, Shield and Browns &Weirs. In a competitive retail environment, we believe it is important to educate graduates about the retail industry and the Massmart business, bearing in mind that graduates are new to the world of work and need assistance to transition successfully.
How is Massmart upskilling its graduates? One of the ways we bring to life our philosophy around nurturing talent is through the Massmart Corporate University (MCU), a virtual institution established in 2007. The main aim of the Corporate University is to ensure the continuous development, engagement and retention of top talent, through the design and delivery of
business-aligned learning programmes; particularly those in scarce and critical roles in the organisation. The Massmart Graduate Development Programme (MGDP) is but one of the many programmes offered by the MCU and is aimed at ensuring that young talented graduates are provided with the right foundational knowledge and practical experience to become authentic future career retailers. The MGDP runs for a period of 1 year and consists of a theory and a practical component. We partner with leading organisations to deliver a truly world-class graduate programme. The Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) and UCS Retail Academy help us deliver a NQF level 6 programme to our graduates. The MGDP offers career streams in: Merchandise (Buying and Planning), Supply Chain, Store Operations, Marketing and Business Systems and Process. In future, other streams will include: Food, Clothing, E-commerce and Agriculture. Our graduates obtain a Foundation Mana-
gement Development certificate at the end of the programme which adds to their collection of achievements and prepares them adequately for future roles in our organisation. To ensure that graduates optimise the learning opportunities presented to them on the MGDP, we match them with mentors and coaches who occupy various leadership roles at Massmart. Graduates are also required to work on various action-learning projects throughout the programme where they identify and tackle various real-life business challenges.
What about the ‘soft skills’ often lacking in graduates? The MGDP offers additional courses which assist graduates hone other critical skills important for their long term success as young professionals. These include presentation skills, business writing, public speaking, leadership and many others. Various business speakers and subject matter experts from within the Massmart business also take up the opportunity to share their expertise and years of experience in retail.

Companies of the future magazine
By Tracy Burrows

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