Chris LaFromboise, a team lead at Champion Foods, Detroit, left BEMA-U’s Transformational Leadership program with a new understanding of himself. At Champion Foods, he leads technicians and operators on lines that produce pizza crust, breadsticks, calzones, cookie dough and scones for companies like Little Caesars.

The job requires getting a diverse group of people aligned to achieve a similar goal. It also involves significant problem-solving skills, both personal and technical. Mr. LaFromboise had never taken a leadership course but said BEMA-U’s class changed the way he does his job.

“If affected my approach to a lot of things,” he said. “It makes you really aware of your strengths and where you can improve and also how you can better communicate with other people and identify their strengths.”

BEMA-U’s Transformational Leadership program is a three-part series that uses the Discovery Insights model of identifying and developing leadership strengths. The classes are spread out over a period of months to give participants time to take lessons from the course back to their companies and implement changes gradually.

The 2018 class included Champion Foods employees as well as several participants from Corbion, BEMA and Sosland Publishing Company. The sessions were held from April to September in Lenexa, Kas.

Emily Bowers, BEMA’s senior director of education and operations and leader of the course, said the schedule fosters lasting growth and development.

“When you bring the group together over three classes, the relationships that the participants build is something that they might not get through a one-class curriculum,” she said.

Related ReadingIn the first session, participants view their Discovery Insights leadership profile. In the next session, the group learns how to leverage each participant’s own unique leadership style. In the third session, each participant presents his or her own leadership profile to the rest of the class.

“The class does a really good job building on itself, and it doesn’t just tell you, but it also shows you how to use the tools to improve,” said Jabin Olds, senior scientist in bakery applications, Corbion. “It really allows you, while you’re still in the course, to adjust in a learning environment over time. It caused me to adjust how I looked at myself and my team.”

The course’s format also provides some flexibility to bakers, suppliers and other industry companies to send their employees away for two-day periods, rather than an entire week. BEMA-U also provides the alternative of facilitating on-site Transformational Leadership programs in which Ms. Bowers will visit a company and train an entire team together.

She explained that the program enables leaders to apply their skills to real workplace challenges and provides a return on investment in productivity, alignment of leadership values and employee development. Participants walk away from the course with actionable leadership development plans, knowing that their journey of self-awareness will not end just because the course did. The course is designed for high-potential employees, emerging professionals or mid-level managers from operations, human resources and plant management.

For more information on the next Transformational Leadership course, visit