Christopher Padfield - Post Formal Education - nurturing and growing talent?
I live on work on a 4th generation family farm on the Gloucestershire / Worcestershire border. It is a mixed farm consisting of a Beef fattening joint venture and growing combinable crops. We have been direct drilling all crops including maize for the last decade. The farm is entered into an HLS scheme which is central to our focus on creating wildlife habitat around the enterprise. We also run some stubble to stubble contracting.
After working abroad in Ghana, Guinea Bissau and France, I worked for a local agricultural college mainly assessing NVQ qualifications. I also achieved qualifications in Internal and External Verification and a PGCE (adult education). I then set up a small training company where we offer training services, mainly LANTRA and City and Guilds qualifications, aimed at the land-based skills sector.
When not working, I love riding motorbikes and drinking whisky. Not a great combination though a recent biking trip to Islay managed to get the best of both worlds.
I would like to thank all those supporting my Nuffield Scholarship, not least the Central Region Farmers Trust for their sponsorship, and my wife and parents for their support and backing.
SouthWestern - Outsourcing in Cork. Wednesday 2nd February
Maire McCarthy is Head of Auditing Services at SouthWestern, one of the top business process outsourcing companies in Ireland. She is also a 2015 Nuffield Scholar. Maire is in charge of the Bord Bia dairy and beef audits in addition to Failtre Ireland which rates Ireland's hotels. It was great to get a glimpse at how an outsourcing company works, particularly when it was related to the livestock inspections regimes, something I have been on the receiving end back in the UK. Maire passion for developing people was evident when we met up to visit an evening milking on a 60 cow herd using a robotic milker machine on a pasture based system with four of her 'interns' - young people on a college placement at SouthWestern - looking to show how farmers were developing their business. The next morning I got to talk to the interns for a longer period and it was interesting to find out that those at college now looking at the agricultural industry are daunted from entering the industry when they don't have access to land, that they expect to move from job to job and that they want to prove their ability through qualifications and CPD.
Una Fitzgerald, a learning and development specialist, spent some time talking me through the training and development of staff at the company. When recruiting people for customer service work, a simple 15:15:70 rule was useful, 15% skills, 15% experience, 70% integrity (attitude/mindset) and taking ownership. She explained how they had set up courses to develop a positive, can do culture in the firm. This was a four stage process starting with a psychometric assessments with an external consultant, leading a business profile average. The second stage concentrated on coaching and training for 5 days spread over a year with emphasis on team building, conflict management, emotional intelligence etc. The third part was an detailed explanation of the business, how it works, the costs and secrets. The final stage was a set task to come up with ways to improve the business, the best ideas being pitched to management after peer review.
Una also was involved in 360 degree evaluations used for development purposes. Each participant would nominate a range of people to review them against key competencies. Gaps would be identified between how the participant rated themselves and how others experienced them. This had proved a positive experience leading to conversations where people had realised they had underrated their own skills and consequently, grown as people. Participants were then encourage to join learning and practice sessions where small groups of people talked about work issues and effectively created co-coaching teams.
My thanks to Maire for her time and hospitality and inspiring me with her passion for people.