Monday, 3th July 2017, Velenje, Slovenia

Corporate University of Gorenje. Founded to promote innovation.

Corporate University of Gorenje. Founded to promote innovation.

Corporate University is an umbrella term for a number of training and education programs intended for development of key employees. It is an important tool for the pursuit of the company's strategic goals. It involves acquiring and pooling knowledge, transferring best practices, developing a culture of innovation, connecting different business cultures, and consolidating corporate values. These efforts are also supported by cooperation with educational institutions.

Corporate university offers carefully planned programs to upgrade employee knowledge and skills. It is essential that the training programs and modules are currently relevant, up-to-date, and adapted to the requirements of the rapidly changing business environments, and that they are effective in transferring knowledge and fostering innovation that is vital for the attainment of the company's strategic goals. By investing into the development of the Corporate university, the company is also investing in sustainable development of its employees. 
"A learning organizational culture is becoming the most important asset a company can build to steer the employees and propel corporate growth," stresses Irena Vodopivec, director of the Corporate University of Gorenje that was recognized by the European Commission as an example of good practice promoting corporate growth and development, as a part of the Commission's UBC (University-Business Cooperation in Europe)
The Corporate University of Gorenje excels and stands out owing to the transfer of knowledge between organizational departments and various cultures. Corporate University of Gorenje brings together internal experts and employees from various departments from all countries in which Gorenje Group centres are located. This additionally encourages internal connections, cooperation, and sharing of knowledge between employees of various profiles, from a variety of fields and cultural backgrounds, which at the same time establishes a unique culture of innovation.

We talked to Mrs Vodopivec about the role of the Corporate University of Gorenje in the pursuit of Gorenje Group's business strategy and about the importance of additional, sustainably planned employee training and education.

What is the Corporate University of Gorenje?
Corporate University of Gorenje, or CUG, is an advanced and innovative educational process geared towards Gorenje Group's growth. Its central purpose is development of key employees who are to execute the business strategy in all areas of the Gorenje business system. 

How is it organized? 
The concept of the programs allows continuous adjustment to the current developments in the industry and in the markets. These programs include acquisition and transfer of state-of-the-art knowledge, work on specific cases in specific business situations, mentorship for groups and individuals, insight into a variety of fields and cultures, and development of innovative solutions for Gorenje Group's current challenges. The best solutions are then implemented as actual business models. 

CUG undertakes its activities through its five main education and training programmes called academies: 
  • The Management Academy of Gorenje (MAG), for development of managerial skills and entrepreneurship. 
  • The International Business Academy of Gorenje (IBAG), for perspective talents, who are included in the international business
  • The Executive Business Academy of Gorenje (EBAG) is for directors and managers and is oriented to acquiring, developing and strengthening leadership skills and to solve strategic challenges. 
  • The Gorenje Create Academy (GCA) for employees, who are involved in the new product creation processes.
  • The Digital Business Academy of Gorenje (DBAG) offers training to key employees and management, heavily invested in the digital transformation processes within the company.

The CUG development ecosystem includes both the key management, Gorenje Group employees in charge of the program, as well as internal and third-party experts, lecturers, and trainers. We work closely with international university partners like: Chalmers (Sweden), University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), Delft University of Technology (the Netherlands), and others (e.g. IEDC school of management, CPOEF etc.).

Taking a general view, why are corporate universities important?

Because this is where we can raise unique in-house experts. Advantages of a corporate university include carefully designed programs adjusted to the specifics of the area of work, new challenges, the corporate culture, and the pursuit of the business strategy laid down. They are therefore much more than programs for training, improvement of productivity, and decrease of occurrence of errors. If these programs are conceived, oriented, and executed in a well thought-out fashion, they can become one of the most important sources of a company's competitive advantage since they arm the in-house experts with state-of-the-art knowledge and skills required to successfully tackle the challenges of a rapidly changing working environment.

Learning is therefore a value as company success in a highly competitive environment like the one we work in is often related to innovation. Research has shown that corporate training fosters an innovative corporate culture. According to Masannat (2014), firms with the largest investments in their people have proven to outperform other firms by 17% to 35% on the Standard and Poor's index, and learning and cooperation within companies are seen as the key motor of innovation. Continuous adjustment and training are therefore the only way to tackle the new challenges and changes, and to be more open to new ideas and innovation.

Virtually all areas of work are already affected by digital transformation and digitization. How is this evident in training and education?
As a response to an increasingly digital environment in which we work, and to the challenges ahead, we developed the DBAG, i.e. the Digital Business Academy of Gorenje, as a part of the CUG, which is aimed at development of knowledge and skills relevant for the pursuit of Gorenje Group's digital business strategy by the year 2020. The DBAG is focused on current and expected trends in digitization of the social environment, with essential effects of digitization on customer behaviour and company operations. Dynamic digital environment and technology are changing both the external and internal business environments of firms, and we believe that if we are equipped with cutting-edge knowledge, we can additionally encourage openness of thinking, innovation, and especially embrace change as something good and positive. 

Moreover, a large part of our education takes place in the digital environment. Some CUG programs are international by design, and a good part of cooperation, workshops etc. take place in the digital environment, making the programs more efficient as we save time and money. In this respect, we use modern communication tools (virtual classrooms, e-learning internal portals, online communication etc.) and we regularly introduce new, more advanced and more efficient channels. 

What are the results of CUG operation? 
In the last 20 years alone, the work of CUG has included: 
  • over 26 completed Management Academies of Gorenje,
  • 1,300 collected business ideas,
  • 100 business plan proposals, and
  • 30 business plans implemented in practice.

Also important is the positive response by the participants of our academies who can develop their own business ideas, gain access to contemporary business know-how, and use opportunities for networking and for sharing experience and knowledge. With the newly acquired knowledge, CUG participants are also the best candidates for career promotions. They also appreciate the experience upon completion of the Academy when they present their business ideas to the Gorenje Group management. Last but not least, cooperation between the employees, the company, and the universities also reinforces the awareness of pursuit of shared goals and loyalty to the company – and vice versa, loyalty to the employee. 

1 With the UBC Project, the European Union is studying and encouraging cooperation between universities and enterprises, which is seen as a key motor on the way towards a knowledge-based society.

- University-Business Cooperation in Europe. Available at: (June 12th 2017).
- Masannat, Jonathan. 2014. How Should We Measure the Effectiveness of our Corporate University Programs? Cornell University ILR School. Available at: