Melbourne Business School News How a custom leadership program is helping Viva Energy put people first

How a custom leadership program is helping Viva Energy put people first

Going on the same leadership program as his team helped Viva Energy Australia CEO Scott Wyatt show just how serious he was about creating a company that's "driven by people".

"It's more than just three words. We genuinely put meaning around that," says Mr Wyatt of the phrase that is at the heart of one of Australia's leading energy companies.

"What we mean by it is that in our industry, what we do is actually not a whole lot different to what our competitors do. What differentiates us from our competitors is ultimately the people who work here.

"The people that deal with our customers, that operate our various facilities and operations and drive the strategies – that's what make us different."

Viva Energy supplies approximately a quarter of the country's liquid fuel requirements through its integrated network of more than 1250 service stations, as well as owning and operating the Geelong Refinery and supplying fuel into more than 50 airports and airfields.

To support the diversity of its operations, the company's leadership team wanted to create an organisational culture capable of spanning a wide range of teams and locations.

"We realised pretty early on in our journey that to create that type of culture, we would need to have great leaders," says Jodie Haydon, Executive General Manager, People and Culture.

"We didn't know exactly what that leadership looked like, so we started to talk to different companies and a lot of different providers.

"The conversation with Melbourne Business School was much more about what is the business strategy? What do you want to achieve as a business, where have you come from, where are you going? It was a very holistic view of leadership development."

The result of that conversation was a custom development program designed for Viva Energy's team leaders to embed the company's culture and strategy in day-to-day operations.

The program has included modules on coaching, collaboration, customer-centric thinking, innovation and problem-solving – and participation started all the way from the top down.

"We started off with the senior leadership group, which is kind of our top 30 people essentially in the company, and I was obviously part of that group," says Mr Wyatt.

"Since then we've broadened it out to the next levels down, and I think all up we've had nearly 200 people through the program.

"I think it's terrific going on the same program as your team. It obviously demonstrates to the team that it's important, and that I'm part of the leadership development program.

"I'm recognising that I also have a role to play in improving and building on my leadership capability as much as I'm encouraging them to do the same things."

Since the program began in 2016, Viva Energy has seen an increase in staff engagement as well as positive business results.

"Overall the feedback on the program has been fantastic. It's got better and better as we've continued to evolve the program by taking feedback and changing it," says Ms Haydon.

"The outcomes have really been around helping us to build that 'driven by people' culture with better leaders. We measure engagement like many companies, and that has been increasing year on year.

"We now have leaders who have the capability to continue to grow the organisation, and to look for the new opportunities, the change and innovation that we will need to go forward."

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