Engineering global success

Michael S. Salone, 40, is based in Paris as vice-president of learning and
development for Alstom Transport. He explains his role in providing
opportunities for staff worldwide

What does your role involve?

Providing the most opportunities for development of our people worldwide,
while ensuring there is a contribution to the bottom line of the organisation.
This involves traditional training, e-learning, performance management,
succession planning, and change management.

What are the best aspects of the job?

Employees want to be active in the people development process, and in my
role I get to help them take charge.

What is your current major training project or strategic push?

First, the improvement of our virtual university – the Alstom Learning
Institute.

Second, along with Cole-McKee Partnership, we’ve developed specialised
workshops for the management teams, interactive communication tools for
cascading, and a short interactive and information quiz online in nine
languages.

And third, the Alstom Leadership Programme – a traditional format of
development programmes designed to increase the competencies of our future
leaders. The thing that has made this different is the online Priority Plan
where employees interact with their managers to determine their development
priorities.

What impact would you like to have on your organisation?

As Alstom is made up of a lot of different company cultures, through
mergers, joint ventures and acquisitions, I would be extremely satisfied if one
day all employees spoke with one company voice while maintaining their local
qualities. Learning and development plays a key role in making this happen.

What did you want to do for a living when you were at school?

As a boy growing up near the ocean in Florida, I always wanted to be Jacques
Cousteau’s replacement and become an oceanographer. The closest I’ve come to
that is living in France!

How do you think your job will have changed in five years’ time?

I don’t think the fundamentals of the job will have changed as much as the
tools available. We will certainly have to be increasingly responsive and
cheaper as a function.

How do you get the best from people?

By giving them my best and providing autonomy, respect, and achievable
goals.

What is the most essential tool of your job?

My gut! I have all the technology and a lot of HR experience, but if
something doesn’t look, sound, or feel right, there’s usually a good reason not
to do it without checking it out more carefully.

Which is the best management book you have ever read?

I have lots of books but two stick out in my mind as nailing down the
principles of management: In Search of Excellence (Thomas J Peters and Robert H
Waterman, Jr) and The One Minute Manager (Spencer Johnson and Kenneth H
Blanchard) are still my favourites. They’re basic, but powerful, and not so
stuck on theory as much as reality.

Describe your dream job

Besides selling suntan lotion on the beach in St Tropez, I’d say I have my
dream job right now.

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