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Life at McCormick October 30, 2019

McCormick's Global Ignite Workshop Helps Women Advance Their Careers

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In May 2017, 24 women from Asia, Europe, and North America gathered in Maryland for a three-day training program. This was the very first Global Ignite workshop, an experience designed to help women build skills and behaviors to successfully navigate career challenges and opportunities.

“The idea behind Ignite is not only to help women advance in their careers, but also to prepare them to address gender-related headwinds,” says Neddy Perez, head of Global Diversity and Inclusion. “Other development programs don’t address these issues as completely and directly as Ignite does.”

Though career advancement is not the only metric of success, it’s still exciting to report that three years into the program, nearly 40 percent of the women who have participated have been either promoted or moved into a position with expanded responsibilities.

Jill Pratt, vice president North America Marketing Excellence, also executive sponsor of Global Ignite, says key to the program is that, even though it is designed for women, Ignite also involves participants’ managers, whether men or women. This, she says, builds empathy and a sense of shared responsibility.

Ignite sheds light on situations that are unique to women, and it helps participants develop strategies to successfully navigate them,” she says. “The really critical thing is that all this work happens in collaboration with managers who may have never had similar experiences. For employees of an organization that hopes to leverage diverse talent for growth and innovation, being able to understand and appreciate points of view different from our own is really a foundational skill.”

And that, Jill and Neddy agree, is how the program is a win-win for McCormick.

Ignite, now in its fourth year, will welcome the 2020 cohort in the spring.

Five questions, two past participants.

See what Krina Agnew, Global Supply Chain Program Manager (2018 Cohort) and Julia Causon, Senior Learning & Development Manager – EMEA (2019 Cohort) have to say about their experience since graduation.

Why did you choose to participate?

KA: I felt that I had been in a “holding pattern” in my career for some time, and this was a good investment in my own development. It also felt good to be invited to apply, and I couldn’t turn down the opportunity.

JC: Focus on myself doesn’t come naturally, and I saw the program as a unique and exciting opportunity to gain clarity on my future aspirations and to be able to articulate the vision for the next stage in my career.

If you had to distill the program into a single, biggest lesson, what would that be?

KA: The biggest single lesson that I learned was to be intentional in all things, ranging from career development to self-care, both personally and professionally.

JC: A key message was about “living life by design, not default.” Through the program I built stronger self-awareness of what I can accomplish and how to make the plan to achieve it, using key tools and, importantly, my own values to ensure I am true to myself as I navigate the path.

Can you share one thing that you’ve started or stopped doing as a result of the program?

KA: I started preparing more for interactions with key stakeholders that I interact with. I have stopped assuming people know who I am and what I do and now spend a little time reiterating these two things.  

JC: I have started to be more deliberate in my presentation planning, which has really helped me to focus on the key messages I wish to convey and how to do this in a succinct and effective manner. I used this with great success when I pitched to be Chair of UK Multiple Management Board (MMB) this summer. I received great feedback on my leadership vision, authenticity, and passion.

Can you share one specific result that you’ve achieved for yourself (for your own well-being, your career, your development, etc.) because of the program?

KA: As a direct result of Ignite, I realized that I should not underestimate my unique gifts and that I should embrace all of me, both personally and professionally. I felt that I was able to lead with authenticity even more boldly than before.

JC: I have increased my focus on my self-care, recognizing that time spent on this is as valuable as the energy I use to help others. I have a great accountability partner and Ignite network, we regularly check-in, which helps continue my commitment to my development actions outside of my discussions with my Line Manager. 

Can you share one specific result that you’ve achieved for McCormick because of the program?

KA: This past year, I led the transition of our McCormick Thailand facility into a new factory, which was a very challenging assignment, building teams and  implementing processes with a very diverse team from different cultures and locations. Drawing on my 17 years of McCormick experiences and extensive networks, I    was able to partner with the local teams and inspire them, while driving a consistent vision to lay the foundation for continued success.

JC: I have sought to increase my value and contribution through others and lift teams that I am part of.  As a participant in a recent Global Learning Organization Project, I focused on being an influential and insightful voice within the change management sub-group.  

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