Training Top 125 Best Practice: Gilbane/Babson Executive Leadership Program

The blended program created by Gilbane University involves pre-work, Webinars, and a four-day on-campus workshop at the Babson College Executive Education Center, as well as coaching and mentoring.

In 2011, real estate development and construction firm Gilbane faced an urgent problem. The senior leadership pipeline was dwindling due to the aging population of executives. The company also was experiencing rapid growth in new business and increased demands from clients for more strategic partnerships. A solution was needed to enable high-potential leaders to advance.

Gilbane’s 360-degree survey results revealed that the most challenging and lowest-scoring competencies for executives were communication; coaching; championing change; business acumen; and developing people, including self. These results were in alignment with the 2011 U.S. Construction Industry Talent Development report. Executives and newly appointed business unit leaders were interviewed to establish the successful behaviors needed to lead a Gilbane business unit. A project team of executives in partnership with Gilbane University (GU) was formed to develop a program based on the competency gaps. The outcome was a partnership with Babson College that led to the creation of the Gilbane/Babson Executive Leadership Program.

Program Details

The blended program created by GU involves pre-work, Webinars, and a four-day on-campus workshop, as well as coaching and mentoring. This experience grows leadership capabilities and focuses on risk management, strategic decision-making, communicating vision and strategy, innovative thinking, and leading people. Selected high-potential leaders are invited to participate.

The Gilbane/Babson Executive Leadership Program features:

1. Selected reading and a live virtual Webinar hosted by Gilbane executives to kick off the program and set expectations.

2. Four-day workshop at the Babson College Executive Education Center. Learning objectives are:

  • Communicate effectively the Gilbane strategy, vision, risk, and business development goals with an entrepreneurial mindset
  • Become more adept at Gilbane’s financial and strategic decision-making
  • Lead effectively as talent and engagement coaches of Gilbane’s future leaders

Highlights include:

  • Gilbane’s president, chairman, and other executives instruct as part of the faculty on particular session topics.
  • Teams form, develop a “rocket pitch” for innovation and change, and present to a panel of executive judges, who decide which teams can move forward with support and resources.
  • Connect with an Exec, a speed mentoring meeting, takes place during non-session hours to build relationships and identify coaching opportunities.
  • Fireside Chat, hosted by the president and chairman, responds to questions collected anonymously ahead of time.

3. Post-session Alumni Check-In Webinars focus on storytelling, coaching, and mentoring, and include discussion of: What have you done more of, better, or differently? Participants share their success stories of how they have applied new approaches to decision-making, innovative and entrepreneurial thinking, impacts to financials, and leadership.

Participants become mentors and are assigned a mentee from outside of their geographic area for six months.


  • 90 participants have attended, representing all business offices around the world.
  • 20 percent of participants have been promoted to higher and more strategic leadership roles since attending
  • 98 percent retention rate with this group

Training Top 125

2017 Training Top 125 winners demonstrated a strong focus on effective training and employee development tied to corporate strategic goals and business impact.

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