Bupa – Growing the Next Leadership Generation Case Study

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Growing the Next Leadership Generation Case Study

‘The Leading to Bupa 2020’ programme – developing a diverse range of staff to establish a leadership culture across a national company.

Bupa Care Services New Zealand is part of the Bupa Group, a leading International Healthcare company. Established in New Zealand in 1991, Bupa has three aged care businesses; rest homes and hospitals, retirement villages and personal medical alarms. They also have a rehabilitation business, looking after more than 16,000 New Zealanders. Bupa is New Zealand’s largest provider of aged care and with no shareholders, it means they reinvest their profits into better healthcare and focus our resources to the benefit of residents and customers.

Leadership Development NZ
The challenge

The Executive team has an ambitious growth plan in line with the global Bupa vision. For the plan to succeed, they recognise that engaging leaders at all levels within the organisation will be fundamental to their success.

Following a series of stakeholder interviews, it became clear that the group who would benefit most from the programme initially were staff who were relatively new or gaining experience for leadership development across the Care Services family.

An additional challenge was the diversity of the target audience. This ranged from relatively inexperienced registered nurses (some of for whom English is their second language), to very experienced clinical managers, retirement village managers, alarm sales leaders, rehab team leaders, and support team staff. The programme therefore had to engage clinical and non-clinical staff and cover the range of cultures, experience and work environments at play.

Mantle worked closely with the Bupa internal team to clarify key outcomes of the programme, which included building leadership capability and confidence in the ‘engine room’ of the business to the benefit of the participants, their teams and the business. The focus was squarely on the Bupa vision for 2020. The ‘Leading to Bupa 2020’ programme emerged and was launched throughout New Zealand in April 2013.

Our Leadership approach

Mantle worked closely with the Bupa internal team to design and deliver the programme. The first groups graduated in December 2013, following an 8-month programme. Mantle facilitators travelled around the country to four regions and worked with groups ranging in numbers from 18-25 on a four to six week cycle. The groups were a complete cross-section of the Bupa Care Services teams, with representatives from each business unit, including Support Services. A total of eighty three participants completed the programme in the first year.

The response to the programme has been overwhelmingly positive from participants, their managers and the Executive Team. The success has been attributed to a number of factors:

  • Establishing credibility for the initiative by having it led internally by a Project Board consisting of four members of the Executive Team. This included the MD and a senior OD Manager. This was a must from the outset, given the context of a new style of programme being delivered by external facilitators
  • Creating a greater sense of self- awareness amongst leaders at all levels within the organisation. This meant clarifying what leadership means on a personal basis for every one of the participants
  • Identifying the need to work in small groups rather than plenary sessions. This was particularly important in an environment where diverse cultures and areas of business were present
  • Sticking to some key models and reinforcing them throughout each module. Understanding the brain at work was a key piece of learning for most, particularly in such a potentially emotionally-fuelled context
  • Offering as many practical tools as possible to use right away
  • Facilitating rather than training the content; this was done by helping groups to understand ideas through discussion and scenario-based activities, created with the Bupa team to ensure reflection of both the clinical and non-clinical environments
  • Use of ‘Bupa’ guest speakers from the operation included 20 minutes slots talking about their experiences and tips on the topic at hand- these were very well received and a development opportunity for the speakers in some cases
  • Well-regarded facilitators
  • A strong focus on being accountable for planning and getting into action; this was followed up extremely well by the Bupa internal team
  • Creating a buddy system to allow participants to support each other outside of the programme


Organisational impact

The major benefits are seen to be:

  • An increase in confidence across the board to lead and take action
  • A keen sense of responsibility to step forward as a leader for the benefit of the people in their care, their customers or their staff
  • Improved quality of care for residents based on teams working more effectively together
  • Productivity gains from more effective communication, delegation and building team member capability
  • An even better workplace environment where performance/behaviour is challenged when necessary
  • Ability to step out of the detail and better manage emotions and drama, which creates a less stressful work environment
  • More flexible leaders who recognise that no ‘one size fits all’
  • Building teams, rather than just focusing on tasks
  • Some of the more experienced leaders said that it had rejuvenated them, even though they had attended other leadership programmes in the past elsewhere
The future

The third cohort is about to be launched in 2015. The focus has now shifted to developing identified talent across the Service.

The success of the original Leading to Bupa 2020 programmes has led to Mantle being asked to design and develop a broader leadership framework, supporting the development of leaders at the next two levels in order to build the Bupa Care Services Leadership culture. This has begun to roll out in 2015 and is supporting the delivery of the ambitious growth strategy.

Client feedback


“Listening to the huge impact the programme has had on the participants’ learning, their teams, their workplaces and the residents, customers and clients to whom they provide service, love and care, is incredibly humbling, motivating and inspiring. We are confident of the significant positive impact this programme has had on our journey to achieving our Bupa 2020 goals. We were well over-subscribed with people who wanted to do this programme in year one, and equally in year two – which for us is a real measure of success.”

Gráinne Moss, Managing Director, Bupa Care Services New Zealand