Talent Pool – The Newest Practice of Balfin Group for Career Development

Balfin Group, a highly innovative group that has brought in Albania new concepts and ideas in many areas of the economy, starting with the QTU - the first shopping center in the country, Neptun - the first organized network of electronic and home electronics stores, Mane TCI - the leading company in building large projects, apartments and residential areas, the group that brought big names like JUMBO, SPAR, and many more, is already invested in employee development. Even in this direction, this group with the processes and programs that undertakes shows that it is quite advanced in what it is trying to provide to its employees - a unique opportunity for career development. Such a program is also Talent Pool, a program that sets the new generation of Group leaders.

To get to know more about this program we interviewed the Human Resources Director of Balfin Group, Anjeza Kelmendi.

Mrs. Kelmendi, Balfin Group has recently started a talent program. Can you tell us more about this program?
The program we are applying is called "Talent Pool". This is a program that consists in the identification, training and professional development of talents and their preparation for taking on the highest professional and managerial positions at Group level. This program identifies the developmental steps of this talent group, and enables the creation of a well-prepared group of employees (who work in various Group companies) who are offered the opportunity to advance their career in leading and challenging positions that Balfin Group offers.

How did the idea for this program arise? Balfin Group has been operating in the market for many years, why did this process materialized now and not before?
The idea was born out of necessity. Balfin Group is a large corporate, with ever-growing dynamics, with numerous projects to run. The desire to develop employees and create a career framework for them, as well as the shortcomings of the labor market in Albania at managerial level, are all elements that led to the establishment of this program. Thus, facing the challenges that business demands, the only way to successfully cope with them and achieve short-term goals but rather long-term goals for a corporation is to have a qualitative and motivated human capital.

How was the selection process for employees involved in Talent Pool developed?
Selection is done according to a well-thought process and divided into several steps. The first step was to announce the launch of the program at Group companies. Subsequently, each company sent proposals for candidates who would have to meet certain criteria and assessments in defined and specific formats for this purpose. After selection at this stage, all selected candidates have passed a number of written tests in logical fields or areas related to professional and managerial skills. After the end of the testing phase, a second selection was made to the candidates based on the results of this test. The candidates who passed the testing phase later passed to the final stage that of interviewing at Balfin's headquarters, and recently the successful candidates became part of the first group of Talent Pool 2017. So a regular process that is also followed by large companies and corporations in the world.

What does the Talent Pool development program consists of?
The Talent Pool program is designed to develop participatory candidates in three directions:
• In that of managerial and technical knowledge - knowledge acquired in the format of trainings in classes.
• Work knowledge - training on the job / shadow combined with coaching both in the group companies at the top executives and at the Balfin head office level.
• Following training and pursuit - through the mentoring technique where these talents are attributed to highly qualified leaders in our group, which are a point of support in their advancement through their distance support.

All three of these ways are a combination that in employee development language are called "Blended Learning" and the goal is to give employees the ability to gain knowledge, to practice and to advance them in their work. This makes these employees more capable of managing not only the responsibilities they currently have but also taking on new and bigger challenges and even more successfully coping with these challenges.

What was the role and responsibility of the Human Resources Department in this process?
The Department of Human Resources at Balfin is the designer, implementer and supervisor of this process. The process, for its own importance for the Group, requires a rigorous monitoring of the program and, moreover, the ongoing study of the alternatives and tools that can be used to further enrich this program. The Human Resources Department is a Group-level Development Department and has a primary role throughout the program.

How do the participants of the Talent Pool see this process?
Meanwhile, Anjeza replied: "Better directly ask some of the talented employees who are participating in the program" –and so we met some of them.
"The acquisition of new knowledge by international experts through non-traditional methods has significantly influenced my way of working," says Andon Qirushi, engineer at Mane TCI.
Meanwhile Eva Devolli, Chief Brand Officer at Fashion Group, another participant, wants to recommend participating in this project to all keen colleagues for knowledge.
As for Artur Prendi, the Category Manager at Neptun, this program is an interactive combination of theoretical materials put into practice in addition to the group dimension. Idi Sulo, Expansion and Development Manager at SPAR, says Talent Pool program stimulates positive competition and the demand for self-improvement.
Of course there are many other participants who, like their colleagues, are actively participating and are part of this program from other Group companies like Jumbo, Green Coast, Milsped Albania, ElektroServis, FoodWay, ACREM, or AlbChrome - all part of the Balfin Group, the largest and most innovative investment group in Albania and among the largest in the region.

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