Learning and Development

We aim to develop leaders with the flexible skills and relevant competencies needed to rapidly adapt to changing financial and market situations and to provide our leaders with the skills and experience needed to run a large, multi-geography, multi-cultural organisation.

This year we continued to focus on:

• Developing leaders with the appropriate skills and competencies to deliver continuous improvement.

• Fostering an environment where employees have the flexibility, tools and freedom to realise our business objectives through continuous learning.

• Delivery of our current suite of learning solutions, aimed at building BEx capability across our entire Value Chain, including technical LEAN capabilities, communications, problem solving, leadership and coaching. Across our global business, 42 percent of our employees completed some form of BEx training this year.


Fostering a learning culture is critical to our ongoing success and we support ongoing development of the skills and abilities of our employees. Technical base programs are run within each business unit and are linked to the specific ‘licence-to-operate’ and compliance requirements of each site.  Employee development is driven by individual development plans and supported by both Group wide and site based curriculum. In 2015 our people completed programs on a wide range of topics including Coaching,  Difficult Conversations, Leading Change, Communicating with Clarity, Leadership, and the My Potential program for women.

The IPL Group Learning Business System was developed in 2015 and is a direct enabler of our Human Capital Strategies.


Developed to provide Company wide standards for learning and development, it provides the foundation for IPL to become a Learning Organisation and is the basis for ensuring our people are skilled and competent. The Group Learning Business System is being progressively implemented across all IPL business units, locations and functions globally from 2016.


Our Initiating Systems plants across the US are doing a great job in building their business systems, learning and bringing our values to life through ‘doing’ BEx – not just using BEx. Key to the success evident in these plants has been their focus on building a strong culture of learning and engagement.


Our Initiating Systems (IS) plants manufacture detonating systems which allow mining and quarrying blasts to be initiated safely and with a high degree of precision. In June 2014, Initiating Systems USA launched a pilot program for ‘Tier 1 Projects’. There were three objectives:


1. to encourage and empower the front-line production teams (Tier 1 teams) across the five North American IS plants to submit ideas for a continuous improvement project that was under their control;

2. to manage and complete these projects in the final quarter of FY2014; and

3. to achieve results that would lead to an improvement in at least one of the team’s KPI’s.


With a minimum requirement of one complete project per plant by the end of the quarter, there were 11 submissions in total and all but one project resulted in multiple KPI’s being impacted, including significant financial benefit. In the 2015 year, 76 new Tier 1 initiatives were submitted with a new requirement that each team at the sites complete 1 project per quarter. In just the first quarter of 2015, 44% of projects submitted had a positive impact on Zero Harm as well as contributing towards delivering productivity improvements.

Each year, a symposium is held at one of the sites where the teams from the best project across each site are invited to present their project to the IS Leadership Team. Each team has 30 minutes to present the Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control (DMAIC) steps of their projects and to answer questions at the end. Once all the presentations are complete the teams are taken on a site tour of the host facility and are given an opportunity to network with their peers. All the teams presenting at the symposiums are presented with a recognition certificate and trophy and through a voting process the IS Management Team select an overall winner. The Booster Team from Wolf Lake, Illinois was the ultimate winner in 2014 with their “Two Pot Pour System”. This project was a significant productivity game changer for the Wolf Lake Booster facility and demonstrated excellence in the employee managed DMAIC process. This year the winning team was from our Carthage, Missouri site, who carried out the ‘Cast Booster 4 Pour System’ project. 

The Tier 1 project concept has practically demonstrated the empowerment model in action and has led to a substantial lift in employee engagement across the sites.


In addition to the Tier 1 Projects, BEx problem solving methodologies are applied to engage employees across many areas of the business. For example, a team at our Carthage explosives manufacturing site was recognised with an IPL Values Award for their work in 2015. This cross functional team was established to design and implement a process to reuse waste sulphuric acid made during the manufacturing process of ‘Dynamite NG’ (nitro-glycerine). Using their areas of expertise and applying BEx methodologies, the team members were able to work together to implement a new process allowing the waste acid to be reused in the manufacturing process. This eliminated the waste stream and delivered an estimated annual saving of over $125,000 per year for raw material costs and $125,000 a year for savings in reutilisation. The IPL values recognised by the award are ‘Challenge and Improve the Status Quo’, ‘Care for the Community and our Environment’ and ‘Treat the Business as our own’.  

Engaging our employees to live out our company values through BEx projects such as these often results in meeting the ‘triple bottom line’ of sustainability by providing economic, social and environmental benefits.