Julian Evans is Training Manager for Badenoch & Clark, a professional services recruitment consultancy with 18 offices located across the UK and one in Luxembourg. Badenoch & Clark recently received a special award for Best Training & Development in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies To Work For 2005 ceremony. The company was also ranked 11th in the over-all list.
How did you come to work in training?
I have been with the company for 15 years, at first as a consultant and then as a manager with a team of consultants. As a manager I was always involved in training my staff. Then about five years ago the MD felt that we needed a full time training department and asked me to take on the role. Until then, training was just part of the job that I enjoyed and I hadn't imagined going into training and development before that.
Describe your role.
I train and develop all the 450 consultants at Badenoch & Clark. I have two trainers who work for me full-time. We identify training needs for consultants from when they first join the company. We write and deliver courses across the 18 UK offices and the Netherlands. We also act as learning consultants and sit with consultants to discuss and understand their development needs.
What activities do you spend most of your time on?
Delivering training takes up half of my time. I also spend time reviewing courses (we've a portfolio of around 40 courses). We also spend a lot of time getting feedback from staff and their managers, usually a month after the training. The feedback takes us quite a bit of time, but it's important that training is not delivered in isolation.
Is training in your organisation mainly organised according to a strategic plan, or mainly arranged when a need has become evident?
Half and half. There are some core courses that all consultants have to go on, but otherwise it's on a needs basis. As the company gets bigger I can see that becoming more strategic and less on a needs basis. We are trying to increase the strategic training that we do.
Is any of your training accredited by external bodies?
Our internal marketing team have been on accredited training as have our design teams. Our internal courses are not accredited by an external body. We are measured by our performance and by our staff feedback. This year we won a special award for Best Training and Development in the Sunday Times Best 100 Companies to Work For and a Recruiter Award for Training.
Do you feel that training has a high enough profile in your organisation?
I think that training is very highly supported at Badenoch & Clark from the MD downwards. I think the company realises it has a positive effect on staff. The fact that I worked as a consultant in the company helps. One of the most difficult sets of people to train are those involved in sales (as our consultants are). If you have worked with these people and have done their job yourself, you do have greater credibility in the training room.
How do you demonstrate the value of your department to your organisation?
Essentially we prove this through the profitability of the company and the retention of staff.
What influences do you think have had the greatest impact on the training sector in recent years?
I think that industries have become more competitive in recent years and there's a greater realisation that training is not a luxury but essential if companies want to grow and be successful. Managers at the top of companies now understand that if you want to be successful you have got to invest in staff.
Do you think that training professionals should have a greater say in planning national training policy?
I think that what is happening with NVQs is good, but of course you don't want government making training decisions in isolation without listening to industry. I think what training professionals have to say is valid. We did a presentation to the Cabinet Office on some of the training that we are doing and that was very well received. It would definitely be interesting to have some sort of forum to share ideas.
How do you see your work changing or developing in the next few years?
We are using competencies more as a benchmark and we have found that they are very useful. My own role will be involved in training other trainers as the company expands. I also feel we will be moving more into helping our managers and leaders develop, rather than just the consultants.