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Training 28 May 2020

BBVA shares its digital Ninja talent program with Spain's leading beer company

BBVA and Mahou San Miguel, Spain’s leading producer of beer, have begun a collaboration that will roll out the bank’s digital professional development program (‘Ninja’), offering it to the beverage company’s employees.

BBVA’s Ninja initiative is a professional self-development program, which enables any employee throughout the organization to build on his or her knowledge and digital skills thanks to gamification techniques and training packages provided by the market’s leading technological companies and delivered on the best educational platforms.

After having deployed the program in seven BBVA Group companies across seven countries (Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, the U.S., and Uruguay), the bank is collaborating  for the first time on an external deployment of the program. More than 300 professionals participating in Mahou San Miguel’s digital and technological transformation will now benefit from direct access to the Ninja program. To this end, BBVA took the platform it currently uses for more than 9,000 of its own employees and adapted it to the specific needs of the beverage company.

The agreement between the two companies, both digital transformation pioneers in their respective sectors, is a first of its kind in the Spanish business landscape, and has arisen from the companies’ shared vision of people — talent — as a cornerstone of successful digital transformation. The agreement also represents a strategic step for both companies in their commitment to new training models, which give employees an increasingly active role as they take control of their own professional development.

The collaboration is a win-win for all parties. It allows BBVA to continue perfecting the Ninja model, as it learns through the process of adapting the initiative to other companies in different sectors. Additionally, it gives the bank the opportunity to continue supporting businesses’ digital transformations as BBVA shares the knowledge and experience it accumulated during its internal rollout of the program. For its part, the beer company will have access to a cutting-edge learning platform, benefiting from digital functionality adapted to its specific needs, thus accelerating one of its strategic priorities.

“A commitment to new training models can be an extremely effective stimulus to ongoing learning within an organization”

“This step highlights the level of maturity of BBVA’s digital transformation, which is sufficiently mature to position us as a strategic partner to other organizations. We are well-placed to help other companies transform their processes, for which the continuous development of  employees’ technical skills and knowledge is a critical factor,” Ricardo Forcano, BBVA’s global head of Engineering and Organization explains. “The Ninja program is a good example of how a commitment to new training models and the creation of knowledge-sharing communities can be an extremely effective stimulus to ongoing learning within an organization,” Forcano adds.

“For some time, our professional growth model has been based on giving individuals the lead in their own development,” says Jesús Domingo, Mahou San Miguel‘s managing director for People and Organization. Mr. Domingo maintains that the BBVA tool is a key piece for his company’s future knowledge-building. “Ninja is helping us strengthen this strategy, encouraging our professionals to share their knowledge with the rest of the team, turning each one into an ambassador of a new, more holistic, digital culture that is focused on the future and meeting our objectives.

The Ninja model

The Ninja program leverages gamification principles to ensure each employee plays an active role, thereby fostering a real commitment with the process of self-development through proactive participation in various activities. The goal is to promote new knowledge and digital skill acquisition, as well as a philosophy of continuous learning that will allow employees to stay abreast of the latest market developments and digital trends.

The process of tailoring the program to the specific needs of Mahou San Miguel employees called for the identification of a set of knowledge domains of particular relevance to the beverage sector and for which different activities were defined for community-, team-, and self-learning. Specifically, the domains identified for the development of Mahou San Miguel ninjas were: big data and analytics, the Internet of things, artificial and voice intelligence, process automation, agile methodologies, experience/journey design, collaborative platforms, and understanding digital ecosystems.

In order to improve the competencies in these areas, ‘ninjas’ can sign up for seminars and internal workshops, participate in MOOCs (massive open online courses), share articles, webinars, and podcasts that have been published online, and even participate in digital events or hackathons, to name some of the activities on offer. All of this can be shared over the platform — either via the web or using an app — which serves as more than just a way to showcase each person’s skills; it also inspires others to get involved and creates a dynamic and transparent knowledge community.

By participating in these activities and sharing his or her knowledge with others, each ninja accumulates points helping them advance through the levels, which are depicted by different colored belts, from white (where all ninjas begin) to the black belt representing total ‘digital mastery’. To progress through the levels, employees have to demonstrate interest and active participation, which translates into a real commitment to their individual development.

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