GMAC: Engaging Employees in Career Planning and Development


The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) is a non-profit organization that provides products and services to graduate management schools around the world. It is a professional development organization that is the leading source of research and information about quality management education.


GMAC has very high employee retention and well-engaged employees who are committed to GMAC’s success. As a result of rapid and international growth over a 10-year period, the leadership at GMAC wanted to evaluate and reframe their existing employee management, career paths, promotions, and development processes and systems in order to position the organization for long-term success. The ultimate goal was to provide valuable development resources to their employees to help them own and navigate their careers while reinforcing GMAC’s commitment to professional development.


The Springboard team partnered with GMAC to review existing practices, determine areas for change/improvement, and support the implementation of new employee practices that would ensure engaged and productive employees for the future. We conducted an extensive analysis to uncover what employees wanted from GMAC for their continued career development. This included a series of focus groups and interviews that reached out to almost 75% of all GMAC employees, combined with benchmark research to compare GMAC’s practices with those of similar organizations. Simultaneously, the GMAC internal team conducted a survey to gather additional information. These activities surfaced useful details on the current and desired state around career planning/management, professional development, promotions, and career paths within GMAC.


By analyzing this data, the Springboard team shared a series of recommendations for more structured and engaging talent development approaches at GMAC. We developed several critical tools for career planning and for employee development, including a new set of defined profiles for each level and job category within GMAC, an Individual Development Plan, a Career Guide for employees to consider their long-term career ambitions, and several new operating procedures, including one to provide more structure for an integrated annual promotions policy and process. GMAC employees were able to use the tools to take initiative for their own development while experiencing, first hand, GMAC’s investment in their career growth. Meanwhile, GMAC’s leadership and human resources team had consistent processes to help set expectations regarding career paths and promotions across the organization. And, because the Springboard team worked hand-in-hand with the GMAC human resources team throughout this project, the HR team “owns” the decisions and can communicate with leadership and employees along the way.

GMAC reported strong buy-in and enthusiasm from both senior leadership and from the broader employee base for the clarity and enhanced processes and systems. The Chief Operating Officer commented: “I consider the work we did with the Springboard team to develop our career planning initiative for our employees to be one of the big wins last year. It has been very well received.”