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The Bombardier Centre of Excellence Focused On Leadership Development to Drive Operational Effectiveness

Proaction International
The Bombardier Center of Excellence: focused on leadership development to drive operational effectiveness

Since 2017, the Bombardier Centre of Excellence in Pointe-Claire has been manufacturing and assembling interior finishing components for the Global series aircrafts.

Here in this creative space, where engineering meets the artistic spirit, the challenge for managers is to maximize gains in productivity while promoting the well-being of each employee and manager in their daily work. The challenge was successfully met by strengthening management leadership skills within the existing system for operational excellence.

From good to great

Bombardier is recognized worldwide in the transportation business for the effectiveness of its systems in achieving excellence and its commitment to investing in human capital. Leveraging employee potential is essential to enhancing the quality of operations while keeping pace with the industry’s constant and rapid evolution.

Operational excellence is therefore embedded in Bombardier’s DNA. With her 24 years of experience within the company, Ms. Sophie Valcourt is no stranger to it! She who has been the General Manager of the Bombardier Centre of Excellence since its inauguration explains:

We always say that developing people’s potential is part of our job […]. It’s always on the to-do list, but the tactical business usually overrides the priority. So, one day I said Okay, enough, I need to reorganize my agenda to really take pleasure of becoming a coach, a mentor, and this is where I need support.

Une artisane du Centre d'Excellence Bombardier prépare le recouvrement des sièges d'un jet privé

By focusing on the quality of interactions and on management practices as the driving force behind the desired transformations, it is possible to innovate in already efficient operational processes. However, in the day-to-day work environment, taking a step back to reflect on what needs to change is not an easy exercise to perform alone.

It’s not about knowing how to do it – we all know what to do – but you have to be able to keep people development in mind all the time. Sometimes you need an outside eye, and that’s what Proaction did.

Sophie ValcourtGeneral Manager, Centre of Excellence, Bombardier.

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DRIVING OPERATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS At BombardierDownload the case study

Transforming the person behind the leader

At Bombardier, our organizational culture is based on five important pillars: people (employees and customers), performance, excellence, teamwork, and authenticity. In the pursuit of these values, flexible coaching emerged as an option for management to make the most of its already successful processes and therefore reach a higher level of excellence.

Operational coaching and customized development plans

One-on-one meetings and operational coaching with leaders and managers enabled the creation of a personalized development plan tailored to the strengths and challenges of each person. This coaching has helped leaders and managers adopt sustainable behaviors that ensure positive impacts on their teams, on operational performance, as well as their own.

I always say that whenever you transform yourself as a human being, you become a better person. […] It’s not something you leave behind when you leave the office at the end of the day. It’s changing yourself, working as a human being. […] An executive once told me, "I don’t know what’s happening but I’m less stressed and I feel better at home".

Sophie ValcourtGeneral Manager, Centre of Excellence, Bombardier.

Leveraging collective intelligence

Through the organization of collaborative workshops, best practices were reviewed by putting people at the heart of the performance. Harnessing collective intelligence has allowed for the realignment of roles and responsibilities for greater autonomy, communication structure, encouraging initiatives, and focusing energies on operational efficiency.


Reducing waste to drive gains

Proaction International’s approach helped raise the bar for operational excellence by building on existing successful systems and processes.

Concrete results

The greatest success of this approach was a significant reduction in waste. In Ms. Valcourt’s experience, “When you are a leader, you don’t belong in a boardroom. You belong with your teams.”

By leveraging managers’ decision-making ability and significantly increasing active supervision, operational efficiency has already increased by 8% in less than a year. According to Ms. Valcourt, the results are tangible: “Our costs are going down and we are investing fewer and fewer hours per unit produced [...], but the real gain lies in wasting less time and ideas.” 

At the Bombardier Centre of Excellence, leaders now dedicate time in their schedules for three daily meetings per employee to discuss performance and what they need to achieve it.

One of the things we’re trying to do is flatten the hierarchy as much as possible, because we are dealing with human beings. Respect is at the forefront of everything.

Sophie ValcourtGeneral Manager, Centre of Excellence, Bombardier.

An incredible transformation of team leadership

Ms. Valcourt has witnessed the rapid evolution of leadership among managers. Commitment, collaboration, and communication have improved substantially within teams. Sharing ideas and solutions is now part of everyday life. Everyone now knows where they stand in the operational chain and the impact of their work.


There’s always a fine line when you drive for performance because people think you’re gonna sacrificed in quality. At Bombardier's Centre of Excellence, we are now all aligned to the same goal: delivering on time a quality product and it is a great success! »

Sophie ValcourtGeneral Manager, Centre of Excellence, Bombardier.

Proaction International

Proaction International

Proaction International relies on people, equipped with appropriate technology, as the driving force behind the performance and competitiveness of organizations. Proaction International's experts offer support based on coaching and training of teams, optimization of tools and processes, and digitalization of management via the UTrakk DMeS application, which promotes good management behavior.