Luxury FMCG client story

Identify internal leadership potential to drive business growth
Client success story: Leadership Development


Our client, one of the world’s leading on-board retailer of exclusive tax and duty free merchandise has experienced rapid growth since its acquisition in 2000.

Now the retail partner of 9 of the world’s largest cruise liners, the group serves 80 ships worldwide and employs 1200 employees around the globe.

The organization is characterized by an international workforce, of which 90% of the employees work aboard cruise liners. Staff are employed across a range of retail operations and merchandising disciplines with focus placed on driving profitable sales and providing excellent guest services in a fast-paced, high-volume environment. Sales Managers have often assumed leadership positions through value of time spent with the company and successful past performances.

As they continued their expansion, the group embarked on a strategic review of its leadership pipeline. Initial results indicated a shortage of managers with the sufficient skills and competencies required to support the business’s rapid growth.

However the subjective nature and validity of the review was brought into question by the organization’s management team. The dynamic, international nature of the company’s operations previously made assessing performance and leadership potential a real challenge for management; executives rarely had the opportunity to observe employees and assess their “on-the-job” performance themselves.

“With cruise ships operating around the world, we knew we needed to implement a more consistent way of assessing internal talent and validating promotion decisions”, said the Vice President Human Resources. “We value internal mobility and needed to make sure our future leaders had the necessary skills to drive business growth in new territories.”


To get an accurate picture of whether the company had suitable leadership talent within its existing workforce to fill future Sales Management roles, a pilot was developed by the client’s head offices. This pilot would serve to assess 13 sales associates from a selection of their cruise lines who had been earmarked for potential Sales Manager roles.

Existing executives and high performing incumbents completed a job-profiling questionnaire called the Performance Requirement Options (PRO) providing their recruiting teams with an objective picture of the identified behaviors required for success in the General Sales Management role.

The sales associates were then asked to complete a PI behavioral assessment, giving executives a clear picture of the candidates’ natural motivational drives across a range of behavioural factors.

All candidates also completed the learning ability test (PLI) to provide additional insight into the applicant’s potential to adapt to and perform in complex and demanding roles.

“With these short online assessments we were able to identify the core leadership behavioral competencies needed for the job and then profile candidates for any fits/gaps. This would form the basis of any hiring or development decisions.”

Combining all assessments and using the CATIL PI PRO fit-gap analysis and interview guide enabled senior HR and management team to add structure and consistency to their selection process.

Hiring managers were provided with an interview transcript of behavioral questions, prepared online in minutes, designed at testing a candidate’s potential in response to any pre-identified leadership or motivational gaps.

“The entire process, starting with objective job profiling and benchmarking of critical success factors, combined with the candidate fit gap analysis makes for a fair and meaningful talent review for employees. It enhances the quality of the dialogue; our employees feel like we understand them better and put greater value on their development.”


After the Competency interview round, 11 of the 13 sales employees selected in the original pilot group were identified as “high potential” and progressed into General Sales Management roles. Using the insights of the assessment toolbox, the remaining candidates will be given opportunities within the company that better suit their natural talents to ensure long-term satisfaction.

The successful candidates also each received a targeted individual development plan based on the behavioral gaps identified by the objective assessments.

“Knowing our promotional decisions were backed with scientific validity gave us the confidence to maintain our competitive advantage of hiring from within. It also means we can save energy, resources and time that would’ve otherwise been placed on employees who don’t have the natural potential to take on that specific leadership role”.

With these early successes, our client is now planning to roll out the combined PI PRO assessment – CATIL behavioral interviewing process. Other business units within the group located across Europe and Asia are also in early stages of trialing the combined talent assessments.

“The challenges that we’ve experienced during the growth of the business called out for change. We feel confident that this new approach will improve the quality and efficiency of our talent reviews, whilst also reducing turnover of key staff.”