An award-winning program develops
tomorrow’s leaders today

The Brief

Most of us are familiar with Simplot Australia’s products. Part of the global J.R. Simplot Company, they manufacture some of our favourite chilled, frozen, and tinned food brands. One of the biggest suppliers to Coles, Woolworths and IGA, Simplot Australia faces similar challenges to its competitors: an aggressive food industry, high manufacturing costs and competition with other home brands for shelf space.

When engagement surveys and business performance data revealed leadership capability gaps, the company’s Board of Management (BoM) recognised that to meet strategic targets and be sustainable, Simplot Australia needed a pipeline of modern leaders who were equipped to drive change.

In line with the company’s core values of leadership, partnering, and innovation, Simplot Australia collaborated with Maximus to develop and roll out two innovative, organisation-wide leadership development programs built around the most critical business-enabling capabilities.

“Simplot Australia is seeing real value from its investment in its leadership development program.”


A close partnership between Simplot Australia and Maximus has resulted in two contemporary, fully tailored programs. Both programs prioritise the top three capabilities in the new Simplot Capability Framework: performance accountability and results focus; strategic prioritisation and alignment; and a customer and consumer focus.

The Operational Leadership Program (OLP) prepares mid-level, frontline managers to lead teams through change. The residential Business Leader Program (BLP) equips senior leaders with specific skills required to drive strategic priorities.

To reflect Simplot Australia’s culture, Maximus designed the programs to be highly practical and interactive, with learning hubs, 360-degree feedback assessments and tackling real-life business challenges in cross-functional action learning groups.

Several factors make the programs different. For example, the BoM takes a hands-on approach to design and delivery and the company has invested in innovative digital learning tools. Continuous reporting, review, and refreshment ensures the programs are up to date and aligned with evolving business priorities.


Nearly 100 leaders have participated so far. Simplot Australia reports that both programs have surpassed externally benchmarked comparisons and both achieved ‘outstanding’ post-program outcomes when measured against pre-program benchmarks:

  • Performance: 13 percent increase in overall leadership capability
  • Reaction: 87 percent immediate satisfaction score
  • Learning: 83 percent improvement in capabilities
  • Behaviour: 86 percent of participants reported significant embedding of learning and value gained

The 20 action learning projects have provided Simplot Australia with a significant ROI. Of the 20 workshopped projects presented to a panel of BoM members, five have progressed to being live and fully funded. Collectively, they represent a 272 percent return to the business. The ROI will increase as other projects are implemented.

The Simplot Australia Leadership Program was judged Best Leadership Development Program at the Australian HR Awards 2016.