Boosting graduate development at M&S | Case Study

By Future Talent Learning

Find out how the programme has enabled M&S to boost their graduate development, enhancing leadership using soft-skills.



Multinational retailer M&S opted for Future Talent Learning’s Transformational Leadership Programme to provide graduates with engaging development as a foundation for their role as future leaders.


The Challenge

As a retailer of clothing, homewares and food, M&S has multiple business units employing store and support centre teams with diverse training and development needs.


Part of the company’s graduate development offering is an apprenticeship focused on developing the behaviours and skills of its future leaders. M&S wanted to bring in complementary learning to enhance this Future Leaders Graduate Programme and align with the company’s aspirations for graduate development. Central to decision-making was for this programme to provide relevant content in a style engaging for these proactive and ambitious learners.


The engaging content, relevant skills areas and different format on offer with Future Talent Learning’s Transformational Leadership Programme meshed so well with the approach we’re taking and direction we’re going

Rebecca Keeble, Talent Manager, M&S


The Solution

M&S piloted the Transformational Leadership Programme for a small cohort of five graduates in 2020, fully funded by the apprenticeship levy in England. Designed to develop learners in an entirely virtual manner, this apprenticeship Level 3 programme – a 12-month journey – engaged and developed graduates across modules to boost skills in decision-making, self-awareness and self-management, and communication. With relevant content tailored to support current business challenges in a changed landscape, learners have been able to bring their evolving soft skills back to their day jobs with the support of tripartite coaching to drive line manager involvement.


Following the success of the pilot, M&S are looking to offer the Transformational Leadership Programme to a wider audience and launch a Level 5 programme too.


The fresh activity-led elements seen in the Transformational Leadership Programme make all the difference, particularly to graduates: they don’t want to be talked at; they want to take part and be involved from the outset

Rebecca Keeble, Talent Manager, M&S


The Outcomes

Through the Transformational Leadership Programme, participants have become more effective in their roles, highlighting how their evolving soft skills, increased self-awareness and wider business knowledge are enhancing their leadership skills.


Participants have described how Future Talent Learning’s tripartite coaching approach has brought about three-way conversations in which they have “felt able to clearly demonstrate the programme’s value to their role, particularly around the importance of time away from the job through the 20% off-the-job training model”.


From a company-wide learning and development viewpoint, the programme has enabled M&S to put apprenticeship levy money to great use, bringing in a new leadership development approach that will “complement our overall learning proposition and unlock potential for so many colleagues”.


The full interview with M&S

Rebecca Keeble, Talent Manager at M&S shares her insights on working with Future Talent Learning.
Read the interview

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