HRD Awards winner’s case study: Amplifying talent in Sony Music Entertainment

Sony Music Entertainment won the 2016 HR Distinction Award for Distinction in People Development. Here’s how they did it.




OBJECTIVE: Two simple goals

Getting the most out of an engaged workforce

People love what they do at Sony Music – so it is not about getting them to stay but connecting a global business to excite and inspire our talent with the possibilities available to them. That is where our innovative edge will come from.

Continued investment in our early career pipeline

The business is all about investing in talent. We are showing we take our internal talent as seriously as we do our artists.


STRATEGY: The strategy for the development program was created with the several critical points in mind

  • Personal relationships are key – who you are, what you bring, what you stand for should be front of mind
  • We have a real advantage in being a global company – we need to capitalise on this
  • We’re not constrained by hierarchy – being disruptive will sustain our future

For the first time we brought together like minded, motivated and talented employees to focus on two things in equal measure – who they want to be as a leader of people and how they can disrupt Sony Music as a leader of innovation.

The response to all of this was to develop an experience that worked on three levels. This would give our best people the platform to showcase themselves and their potential.

The key part of the strategy was experimentation: how do you make development and innovation safe? Thinking big and acting small was critical in helping our executive teams to sponsor the number of experiments happening all over the world.

Enter the HR Distinction Awards 2017 now


IMPLEMENTATION: The program took place over seven months and covered five elements

  • Personal development coaching
  • Regional work – small tight networks of people
  • Experimentation
  • Global exposure
  • Peer coaching at regional and local levels


RESULTS: The program has produced some amazing innovation stories for Sony.

These include:

  • External recognition of new ways to develop artists
  • New partnerships emerging between SME and exciting new business’ such as Uber
  • Maximising untapped revenue in our back catalogue
  • New deals with high net worth clients in Asia.

Sony saw results on a broader cultural level such as changing perception of innovation and risk. This includes recognising that innovation can come from anywhere and can start small. A great example being how learning can get transferred easily when it is the right thing and right time to learn it.


What the judges said:

“This is a stand out entry. Innovative, exciting, tangible. An excellent people development initiative with great creative, commercially viable results. Well done Sony.” – Tea Colaianni, former group HR director at Merlin Entertainments.


You can enter your organisation into the HR Distinction Awards 2017 here.

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