Dimension Data: Leadership competencies for top talent

Dimension Data is a global leader in information technology and communications. Headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, it employs more than 28,000 people and has clients in 58 countries worldwide. The organisation has set itself the ambitious target of doubling its revenue over a five-year period.
Jan 03, 2019

To achieve this, Dimension Data is in the midst of a fundamental, organisational restructure and is transforming its strategy to further develop and offer services, with a focus on consultancy rather than technology sales.

To support this transition, the leadership team realised it must focus on retaining and developing the emerging talent that already existed within the organisation.

This is a time of significant change and Dimension Data needs to provide its emerging leaders with the skills and resilience to drive the transformation and help them keep pace with the ever-changing competitive worlds of technology and business.

These emerging leaders are crucial to the delivery and success of Dimension Data’s growth strategy. From this requirement, the Fast Track Forum was developed.

Programme aims

The aim of the programme is to create a global impact on business performance. Talented, high-potential employees from across Dimension Data are given the opportunity to interact, widening their understanding across the business and equipping them with the relevant theoretical knowledge and practical skills in the fundamental areas of finance, marketing, innovation, leadership and strategy.

The programme also demonstrates Dimension Data’s commitment to the development of its employees. It identifies potential future leaders, promotes networking and global collaboration, improves retention rates and actively prepares the next generation of Dimension Data leaders.

The programme

Designed in collaboration with Dimension Data’s learning and development and senior leadership teams, the Fast Track Forum programme combines cutting-edge theoretical learning with a practical exploration of all divisions of Dimension Data, before the two approaches are combined as the participants tackle a real-world business challenge.

Independent, online learning and face-to-face sessions provide a complete learning experience that supports the participants and helps them achieve their learning goals.

Each year, a select group of 70-85 participants become members of the Fast Track Forum. Candidates are nominated by their manager, with the final selection of participants being based on evidence of their ambition, ability and performance. Nominations are welcome from all levels of the business.

The programme begins with a two-day face-to-face regional induction. This allows the participants to meet each other, the Fast Track Forum team and, most importantly, their coach and mentor – mentors are Dimension Data Leadership Forum participants.

This is followed by five months of supported, online tuition before all the participants meet for an intensive week of learning. During this week, they have face-to-face sessions with the FT | IE Business School Corporate Learning Alliance faculty, before being divided into groups and given a specific business challenge. For the remaining five months of the course, the individual groups work on identifying a solution to their challenge.

The faculty for this programme are:

  • Martin Boehm, Professor of Marketing – he has a particular interest in the management of client relationships to increase an organisation’s long-term profitability. His research aims to provide evidence of how to build profitable and long-term client relationships. He develops insights on how to meet client needs while considering the associated monetary implications.
  • Virginia Bombin, Professor of Finance – is a freelance professional and has been an adjunct professor at the IE Business School for 15 years. She also works independently on entrepreneurship projects, and financial analysis and business valuation, all within the world of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
  • Carl Kock, Professor of Strategy – is fascinated by cause and effect. His work focuses on identifying the fundamental drivers of value in organisations. He questions accepted and economic business norms and encourages his students to look at what they’re being taught with fresh eyes.
  • Juan Carlos Pastor, Professor of Leadership – teaches organisational behaviour, leadership, coaching and managing people skills. He is an active researcher and consultant in the areas of leadership development, team dynamics and diversity management. His sessions also address how to be an effective manager, and how to motivate, set goals and get commitment from colleagues.
  • Joseph Pistrui, Professor of Innovation – has a particular interest in growing the top line of an organisation through innovation-based, new business development. As a result, he has developed insights that help organisations think in new ways about the present in order to understand the future better.


Theoretical learning

The theoretical learning elements, delivered by our faculty through a combination of online and face-to-face modules, cover:

  • finance
  • marketing
  • innovation
  • leadership
  • strategy.

The theory elements amount to a ‘mini-MBA’, which provides the participants with the knowledge and skills needed to understand organisations, manage employees, analyse business and innovate. This theory is then applied throughout the second-half of the programme as the groups work on their business projects.

Business project

During the intensive face-to-face week, the participants are divided into 10 groups of seven individuals. Each group is assigned a real-world, Dimension Data project to tackle.

Selected by the executive team, these projects represent some of the biggest challenges the business needs to address to meet the revenue growth target. During the week together, each group is allocated a coach who supports and guides them through the business project process. For the next five months, the group members collaborate virtually to develop their solution.

The business projects conclude with presentations to the board at Dimension Data’s headquarters in Johannesburg, after which a graduation ceremony is held for the participants. Presenters for each group are selected at random, ensuring all members contribute.

The results

After two years of running the programme, it continues to go from strength to strength. The feedback from the executive team, and the participants and their managers, is overwhelmingly positive. The average feedback rating from participants is 4.7/5.

The Fast Track Forum not only delivers results for the participants; Dimension Data is also feeling the benefits. With four of the five solutions to the business projects from year one being taken forward and implemented, the programme is now seen as a way to develop emerging leaders and provide fresh perspectives on the operations of the organisation, helping the company achieve its growth target.

‘We were going to cap the intake at 50, but ended up with over 70 participants because the business and board demanded it! Testament indeed to how successful the programme is.’ Cindy Meijboom, Group Leadership and Talent Manager

‘Thank you for a wonderful experience. I certainly learned a lot, both professionally and personally.’ Participant, 2015 Fast Track Forum

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