Clare Hawker
03 April 2019 00:00

Our Learning and Development Culture

Claire Hawker, Senior Learning and Development Consultant, with Apprentice, Melissa Halling

I have the pleasure of leading the Learning and Development team at the NEC Group and I’m not afraid to say that I love my job. I’ve worked in a number of big corporate organisations and in my opinion nowhere has invested so much in the personal development and growth of its staff as well as here at the NEC Group.

The NEC Group is really six or seven different businesses in one – covering catering, live entertainment, conferencing, exhibitions and more – which presents challenges and of course opportunities for the learning and development team. Our aim is to keep everyone safe with compliance training, mapped against each individual role, but also to develop new skills and talents within our teams and business units. Our approach to people development blends the need to provide all employees with the knowledge, skills and behaviours necessary to perform their current role, alongside a focus on the future needs of both our businesses and the people within them.

We have a thriving apprenticeship programme, with around 30 currently in post and 10 more coming on board this year. We benefit greatly from the new energy and perspectives our apprentices are bringing to the businesses and I know that for some of them, we’ve given them opportunities and experiences they wouldn’t have got anywhere else. There’s not many apprentice electricians can say that they helped sort the lighting out for a Nicki Minaj gig or apprentice chefs who have prepared lunch for the Conservative party conference!

Not only are we nurturing those at the start of their careers, we’ve also got a well-established Talent Programme which is designed to grow our emerging leaders through a 12-month development programme, supported by in-house coaching and mentoring.

We’re lucky to have an Executive Board that is fully behind talent progression and skills development across the whole organisation. Our Talent Programme ‘students’ not only get to develop their skills in areas including commercial finance, resilience, project management and time management, they also work in groups on a specific project or campaign. We have seen past and present graduates promoted to higher positions or move onto specialised projects to meet the changing needs of the business.

Talent successes

An example of a now live output from a previous Talent Programme project was the introduction of Your Voice – a staff communications programme designed to encourage two-way feedback and suggestions from staff, particularly with harder to reach staff such as off site or casual workers.

Another was the introduction of the use of food waste app Olio. Our hospitality and retail catering arm of the business, Amadeus, cater across the NEC Group producing, selling and serving food for a host of events including conferencing, exhibitions and live events. The amount of food is ordered carefully to ensure that the food left over after an event is minimal, however, on occasion there is surplus food following an event. As a result of the Talent Programme project plans are now in place to send any surplus food to people who would benefit from it in our local community – a win win for us and our neighbours.

I’m immensely proud of the difference myself and my team are making at the NEC Group. From the apprentices, through the Talent Programme and our Executive Team everyone is on board with learning and development – which makes my job very enjoyable indeed!