Agility in Tough Times: Santander

The Challenge

In a climate of greater regulatory oversight to reduce banking risk, and rapid consolidation to lower costs and remain competitive, Spain’s largest bank, Santander, needed a new way forward. Santander’s footprint in Europe, South America, the United States, and Mexico enabled it to weather industry turbulence better than most, but its Global Banking and Markets (GB&M) business unit still faced tough choices following a widening financial crisis in Europe and new regulations.

How could Santander’s global leaders best work together to develop a broader strategic mindset and forge a strategy for GB&M to be a growth driver for the business?

The Goals

Santander GB&M and Wharton Executive Education developed a unique Custom learning program that allowed leaders from multiple locations to apply key learnings to the critical market and competitive challenges facing the multinational bank. Merging Santander’s unique business strategy with Wharton’s management strategy and global innovation expertise, the program:

  • Developed the technical knowledge and leadership skills of high-potential staff.
  • Equipped Santander’s leaders to anticipate and respond to future business challenges within its different business areas.
  • Helped the leaders hone a global vision, think differently, and embrace synergies.

The Santander Solution

Twenty-two senior leadership potentials came together on Wharton’s campus for the first of three modules — each module emphasizing practical applications to the technical content. Santander internal experts participated, ensuring every session had the context of Santander’s unique market challenges. The cohort then completed six-month Action Learning Projects tied to real business issues facing Santander.

The Impact

Santander evaluated the program’s impact. Participants unanimously stated that they would recommend the program to other Santander leaders, with seven in ten participants saying the new knowledge and techniques presented in the program directly applied to their work. Eighty percent found the "Leading Change & Culture" content immediately applicable as well. The cohort developed four enterprise-wide projects, championed by internal Santander leaders, which explored:

  • The Future Banking Model — identifying necessary strategy changes.
  • The Bank’s Current Positioning in Industries and Geographies — how positioning in other industries or geographies might improve the bank’s competitive advantage.
  • Five-Cubed (53) — how this key internal strategic initiative might move forward in the organization.
  • Disintermediation in European Capital Markets — exploring the impact of this development and the bank’s response to create a more effective client value proposition.

Would you like to learn more?

To find out how Wharton Executive Education can help your company achieve its own customized solution, please contact Alyssa Greco, Associate Director, Client Relations — Custom Programs, +1.215.746.8093 or customprograms@wharton.upenn.edu.