Talent Development at Fugro: U.Gro helps people grow

The name of their talent development program says it all: U.Gro ensures personal growth. Manon van Beek, Global Program Manager for U.Gro at geodata specialist Fugro, talks about the origins of this program for young professionals and future managers. What does the talent program involve and how was it developed? What challenges are they facing and – importantly – what have been the results so far?

 Focus on young talent

“With thousands of employees around the world, Fugro is a complex organization,” Manon says. “A few years ago, our leaders felt the distance between them and the group of starters was becoming too great. They wanted a better understanding of them, their skills and their potential. To get to know the group of young employees better and be able to help them develop further, management decided to set up a young professionals program. This talent program would also facilitate collaboration across borders, increase transparency and help employees seize opportunities for growth.”

 Welcome Relevance

“The offering from Relevance appealed to me immediately. First, it met our requirements; the content was timely and inspiring. We also wanted certain things like local trainers in parts of the world, and that could be arranged. Second, the supporting online platform was logical, attractive and flexible. There was a lot of room for our own ideas, and we designed the talent development program together. The collaboration went smoothly from the start; we clicked instantly. Everything was ideal.”

 Online launch

“Initially, we got started in Europe, completely online. We informed management, HR joined in, and we organized the first kick-off meetings. A new group started every month with a maximum of 14 participants and all nationalities mixed together. The kick-off with the Relevance trainer was the green light to start a learning journey that will last a couple of years. In the program, people learn from videos and articles on the platform, attend training sessions and workshops about motivation, communication and collaboration, participate in interactive deep dive learning blocks, and attend peer coaching sessions, among other things.”


“From e-learnings and workshops to deep dives and peer coaching. It has everything.”


 Deep dives

“For example, one of the deep dives was designed around our core competency of client awareness. Someone from Fugro talks about what they are up against on project X and outlines the case. The participants then consider how they would approach it. What are the customer’s requirements? Instead of just coming up with the best solution, they first investigate what the customer wants. Sometimes that’s something completely different. This kind of deep dive helps people become more conscious of the content, and they learn to present and reflect. All the practical cases are close to reality, so they sink in better than yet another e-learning.”

 Two groups and two phases

Fugro is using the talent development program for all college graduates with up to two years of experience. “Since 2020, a new group of starters has started every month. They take about 2.5 years to complete their U.Gro. In phase 1, ‘Engage 2 discover,’ they get to know Fugro and themselves better. In phase 2, ‘Drive 2 succeed,’ they learn basic leadership skills and take part in the deep dives into critical and strategic thinking. We then invest a little extra in a small group, about 5% of the participants. Those high potential talents are put on the International Leadership Track (ILT), a customized traineeship consisting of several assignments and an in-between phase called ‘Challenge 2 grow.’”


“We’ve definitely found areas for improvement in the past year,” Manon continues. “Someone who’s working on a ship or drilling a well in the middle of the desert can’t attend a two-day workshop. The poor coverage alone... So recently we started a pilot in which people can register themselves for the deep dive learning blocks. This makes learning more flexible. It also means we’ve abandoned the principle of learning with and from each other in fixed groups, but people can now set their own pace. After all, real life is also full of changes.”


“I have a close relationship with the designer of the program. Do we want to add or remove a topic? Make something shorter or longer? It happens. That flexibility is really ideal for us.”



Most participants have been very enthusiastic about the talent development program. “Some were a little skeptical beforehand. Like, ‘Do I really have to learn to communicate differently?’ But once they get started, they’re pleasantly surprised about the power skills the training gives them. To me, that’s part of the reason I’m in this business. It really does energize you to see people grow! A person may be very smart, but if they can’t get something across or don’t get anyone on board, they won’t achieve much. Isn’t it great that young professionals feel confident enough to take charge in a relatively short time?”

Culture wave

So in practice, Manon sees that people are being energized by the talent program. “And by working together with their colleagues elsewhere in the world, they also learn more about what Fugro does than they would if they had to get the information from the website. This program expands everyone’s bubble, which creates opportunities and enlarges worlds. It’s still a bit early to draw conclusions, but I’m convinced that talent development will reduce absenteeism and turnover and create happier employees! What’s more, U.Gro is spreading like wildfire and triggering a genuine culture change. Since starters get a mentor, we have to teach colleagues to be mentors. And because we let young professionals discuss things with their managers, managers are also held accountable for their behavior. We’re creating a more open culture with more room for feedback, exactly what we’d hoped for from the beginning.”