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The Calibre of Training

18 August 2011

Steve Walker, director of Kent-based Calibre HR & Training, talks about his company and its training goals

Could you define your company in your own words?
Calibre HR & Training is a team of people management experts working in partnership with HR and training professionals in organisations of all sizes and from all sectors. Calibre helps companies tackle immediate HR headaches as well as plan and manage strategic people development and HR projects.

When, why and by whom was it established in the UK?
Calibre HR & Training was set up in Kent in 2005 by three founding directors - Steve Walker, Elspeth Watt and Tara Lloyd - all experienced HR and training professionals.

Could you elaborate on how the fragile economy affects your business - if at all
Like any business we have been affected by the downturn. However, by working closely with clients we've been able to help many organisations operate more efficiently by helping them identify the performance required to meet their goals and explore better ways to achieve it.

How much business do you do with the food & beverage industry, and is this a priority for you?
We work across several sectors. However, as a Kent-based business we’ve helped many local food and drink manufacturers over the years and this does represent a key sector for us. I have a background in Sainsbury's and the other directors have worked with fruit producers, brewers and in the catering industry.

Could you give details about your work with Ardo?
Calibre has worked with Ardo since 2008. Our involvement with the company started with presentation skills and train the trainer workshops and has grown from there - today we’re designing and starting to deliver an 18-month management development programme. Recently we also helped the board create a project planning process to underpin the company's move into frozen peas.

As part of this diversification the company needed new pea processing equipment in Lowestoft, a new packing line at its Charing headquarters and a new supply chain and range of cross-functional processes. It was a significant and complex investment that needed strong project leadership skills. The board of directors all had some knowledge of project management, but it was varied and included several different models.

It was important this variation in approach didn't lead to confusion or crossed-wires. So the board asked us to help it agree and use one project planning process. The project planning process itself didn't need to be complex but clear and straightforward. It also needed to be one that everyone could easily buy into. Whatever project planning process a business chooses, the key is to make it a living breathing process that is meaningful to everyone using it.

To achieve this I designed a focused and practical programme of facilitation and training workshops where directors learnt the approach as they used it. This included agreeing on a project planning process, training directors in this approach, scoping out an 18-month timetable, establishing key tasks and outcomes and facilitating meetings during the process where the directors could check and challenge each other's work, and clarify deadlines and interdependencies.

My support tapered off as the team grew in confidence in its ability to populate and execute the plan - a plan they are all equally committed to. As a result of this project, Ardo now has a detailed plan with which to drive and manage major projects. As well as well-defined internal processes, third-parties also have a clear picture of their involvement and responsibilities.


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