DRIVE Beyond Excellence – a two-year journey

How we began

Over the period of only two years, Fortenova Group has established a modern human resources function with a view to: 

  • Create an encouraging work environment 
  • Position Fortenova Group as the most desirable employer in the region 
  • Establish a long-term employee development strategy to support Fortenova Group’s overall business strategy. 

With the incorporation of the company, a strategy was defined, on the Group level that constituted the foundation for devising an HR strategy focusing on the development of the Group’s four main business verticals: Retail, Agriculture, Food Production, and Non-core Assets. Besides the Fortenova Group HR team, the HR directors of all operating companies also took part in devising the HR strategy that identifies key development areas, and the basic initiatives. 

The HR strategy focuses on five basic pillars: 

  • Development of wages and remuneration policies; 
  • Promotion and key employee career management system;   
  • Improvement of employee experience; 
  • Employment and retention of employees; 
  • Development of organization and operational governance models. 

Given the different activities in the Group’s operating companies, a job evaluation was carried out at all companies following the Mercer methodology, where all job positions across the Group were defined and uniformly aligned in a methodologically standardized and transparent way. The process evaluated more than 4,500 job positions and identified managerial positions. 

The next prerequisite for the development of a promotion and career management system within the managerial structure was to identify key employees through a Talent Management Process, which was carried out in late 2020 and early 2021 for all managers of the Group (1,200+ employees). 

Development of key employee promotion and career management system 

A strategic determinant at the Group level has been the focus on the development of a key employee promotion and career management system, and hence in late 2020, a Talent Management Process was initiated at the level of all managerial positions within the Fortenova Group. 

The project included 27 companies: Konzum plus, Konzum B&H, Tisak plus, Mercator Slovenia, Mercator Emba, Mercator IP, M Energija, Mercator Serbia, Mercator B&H, Mercator Montenegro, Pik Vrbovec plus, Jamnica plus, Sarajevski kiseljak, Mg Mivela, Nova Sloga, Ledo plus, Frikom, Ledo Čitluk, Zvijezda plus, Dijamant, Roto dinamic plus, Belje plus, Pik Vinkovci plus, Vupik plus, Agrolaguna, mStart plus, and Fortenova grupa. 

The Talent Management Process used a standardized methodology of assessing performance in the previous period, key managerial competencies, and the estimated potential to assume more complex or additional tasks. Once the assessment process was completed, an Individual Development Plan was created for each manager, and it included a career plan with identified areas for development. It represented the greatest value and a basis for preparing a central leadership competency development programme. The preparation of the Individual Development Plans was a two-way process that required the active participation of the evaluated manager and it enabled them to gain insight in their career development planning, from the key activities that they need to take over to their role and accountabilities for outcomes. Hence, all managers co-created their development plans. 

By April of 2021, the process was over, and more than 1,200 managers were assessed, which resulted in the identification of 280 talents, or 23% at the Group level. 

In late 2020, the Human Resources team, together with the Executive Directors of Fortenova Group, initiated the process of defining key improvement areas. All development needs were thoroughly elaborated, and Human Resources initiated the process of selecting the best quality suppliers who were able to meet the requirement of delivering tailor-made programmes for a potentially large number of participants. 

Six months of preparation and detailed elaboration of leadership competencies development programmes resulted in the DRIVE Beyond Excellence programme, which consists of three different tailor-made programmes for Fortenova Group managers:

  • Navigate – a programme for senior managers who showed potential to take over more complex positions within a very short time. The programme started in May 2021 and is attended by 35 Group managers. 
  • Accelerate – a programme for middle managers who showed potential to take over more complex positions over the next 1-2 years. The programme started in May 2021 and is attended by 98 Group managers.
  • Discover – a programme for junior managers who showed potential for assuming leadership positions for the first time. The programme started in September 2021 and is attended by 140 Group managers. 

The managers from all Group companies took part in the programme, which is also a great opportunity for them to get to know each other, exchange ideas and share the best practices.

Focus on leadership skills 

Fortenova Group’s long-term strategy related to employee development is focused on employee excellence in everything they do, on the development of leadership skills, internal promotion vs. external employment, and employee engagement. 

In order to realise the set strategy, DRIVE Beyond Excellence programs refer to the development of leadership skills that represent key managerial competencies.

The DRIVE Beyond Excellence programme lasts 18 months, and the first benefits and improvements are expected to be seen in H1/2022, by following previously defined performance criteria. 

The success of the programme is monitored through previously defined criteria 

The performance of DRIVE Beyond Excellence will be monitored through the following indicators: 

  • Number of attendees that successfully completed the programme – more than 90%;
  • Number of successfully implemented projects of the Navigate programme – more than 75%;
  • Number of future promotions of programme attendees – over 50% of vacancies / open positions;
  • Key employee turnover – 0%;
  • Increased percentage of positions where successors are “immediately ready” – compared to the results of the previous monitoring in 2020;
  • Improved results in the Leadership dimension within the scope of the corporate climate and culture survey compared to 2021 results;
  • Improved results in the criteria of Employee Engagement and Belief in Strategy compared to 2021 results. 

First-generation participants become ambassadors of the programme 

The interest to take part in the DRIVE Beyond Excellence programmes was expressed by more managers than it was planned for the first generation. Employees have expressed their satisfaction with taking part in the programmes and have become ambassadors of the changes that the DRIVE brings. 

Many participants of the programmes have sent positive feedback at their own initiative, particularly praising the curriculum and welcoming the possibility to meet and work with colleagues from all companies in the Group and expressing their satisfaction to be part of the programme.

Strong impact on the sense of belonging to the Group 

For the first time, the Fortenova Group has got a comprehensive analysis of its leadership potential at the level of all Group companies, while the GAP analysis has made it possible to create tailor-made training programmes. 

Key management has been defined at the Group level, for whom the career development has been made possible, and for each key position in the Group a successor has been determined, who is being trained through the DRIVE Beyond Excellence programmes and is thus getting prepared for new roles within the Group. 

In terms of quality, the project has had a strong impact on the sense of belonging to the Group and indicated the possibility of career development across all Group companies, not only in the current company of the manager. 

Furthermore, given that, as part of the programme, the participants will work on projects of strategic importance for the entire Group (projects aligned with the Group’s top management), the implementation will constitute an exceptional added value both for the participants and the Group as a whole, with the possibility to quantify it through the realization of the Group’s strategic determinants and budget. 


  • Sense of belonging to the Group; 
  • Possibility of career development across all Group companies; 
  • Participants worked on projects of strategic importance; 
  • Exceptional added value both for the participants and the Group; 
  • A strong positive effect of the programme on the first generation of participants; 
  • Participants have expressed satisfaction and have become ambassadors of the changes initiated by the DRIVE.


Gordana Fabris, Head of Group HR at Fortenova grupa d.d.

Fortenova Group was established on the 1st April 2019 by the implementation of the Settlement Plan sealed among Agrokor’s creditors. Through its core businesses, it operates in five key markets in Southeast Europe, where it employs around 50,000 people. In four business areas – retail, beverage production, edible oil products, and processed meat production – Fortenova Group is the market leader in its key markets and it is also an important participant in the production of milk and dairy products on the Croatian market. Fortenova Group features more than 3000 products and over 100 brands, as well as a retail network of more than 2500 retail facilities in the SEE region. 

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