We’re excited to be running our first Learning at Work Week this year (15 – 21 May). Learning at Work Week is an annual event, designed to promote lifelong learning at work and delivered by organisations in workplaces across the UK.
At Reed & Mackay, we’re taking Learning at Work Week global, by including virtual and digital initiatives that can be accessed by our people all over the world. Delivering learning opportunities to employees across all departments and destinations is essential to us. One of our recent initiatives has been the introduction of our Superhero Academy.
We asked Head of Global Talent Development Nicky Nightingale what this means for current and future employees and, ultimately, how that translates into providing clients with exceptional service.
Why was the Superhero Academy introduced?
We wanted to produce something that would have a lasting impact on our service delivery, that sparks conversation and innovation within our operational teams and would be able to grow with our business. COVID changed how people travel and we felt we needed to acknowledge those changes and prepare our people for the future.
Designed in collaboration between Reed & Mackay’s Talent Development team and InnerVision Training & Development, the Superhero Academy was brought in as a catalyst to challenge our ways of working and encourage a change of mindset. We wanted to ensure Reed & Mackay remains ready and fit to compete in a challenging and evolving business travel environment.
Who’s the Academy for?
Primarily for operational employees but anyone can access it and it has been used widely across our global client-facing teams.
What do employees learn?
Throughout the Academy, learning happens in many different settings. It could be via online learning, individual activities, team-based discussions and specialist support sessions. We start by developing a deep awareness of the business and our clients and then build new skills and behaviours that are transferred, embedded and sustained in every interaction with the client. The role of leadership in this learning process is significant, with our team managers taking a pivotal role as coaches to their individual team members.
Why is learning and development important for employees?
If we want to retain and recruit the best employees, we need to offer the right development opportunities. So they can grow their careers with us and have the opportunity to move into different areas in the organisation. Our global development opportunities are designed to accelerate the growth and success of our people and our business.
It’s also about providing our clients with highly skilled and motivated consultants. It’s crucial our clients have consistent experience in all their dealings with Reed & Mackay. Our consultants are clear on what is expected of them, understand what the benchmark is and what a great client interaction looks and sounds like.
Who has been through the Academy so far?
The Superhero Academy is available across our global teams – nearly 600 team members have taken part in it, with 91% of lesson assignments already completed. We’re also working on language- and market-specific versions for our employees in France and Spain. Our global Operational Managers have also learned key skills to help them develop their superhero teams, equipping them to run team sessions and easily provide valuable feedback that makes a difference.
What other learning opportunities does Reed & Mackay offer its teams?
We partner with several apprenticeship providers to upskill individuals in different areas of the business. We currently have apprentices on programmes including Leadership, Human Resources, Junior Travel Consultant and Data Technician.
Internally, we offer a suite of modular learning programmes, covering a range of topics from technical and soft skills through to leadership development. Our Aspire Leadership Academy focuses on employees who have recently moved into, or are ready to progress to, team leadership positions. Throughout the programme, employees work with their cohort to learn, share ideas and practise their new skills. Each participant is mentored by a senior leader and they have the opportunity to work on cross-functional business projects and elevate their exposure in the business by presenting ideas to the Executive team.
Reed & Mackay Executive Director and Founder Tracy Baumfield was impressed with the recent Aspire Leadership cohort. “They proved just how much we need be guided by their extraordinary insights into how we can improve the business,” Baumfield says. “They were incredible; not only was the content of their presentation well thought out and executed, they all exuded passion and enthusiasm for the clients and our business.”
Senior Marketing Executive Anjna Kerai, who has worked at Reed & Mackay for four years, was part of the cohort. “It’s all thanks to Reed & Mackay’s Talent Development Specialist Alex Grumbridge; she developed the Aspire course, which has given us a fantastic opportunity to develop our skills to progress towards leadership positions,” she says.
What’s next for Reed & Mackay’s learning programmes?
In guiding people through their careers, we’re currently working closely with the HR team on a career-mapping exercise to provide our people with a clear and robust development pathway. We’re creating more coaching skills development as well as opportunities to grow our people leaders at all levels of the business. This will include the development of a leadership behaviours framework and a High Potential pathway.