Pavers’ relationship with the university began when Carla Whurr, Head of People Development, decided to expand Pavers’ internal training to include an external provider too. Working together, Carla and the CPD Unit created a bespoke executive training programme called the “High Fliers” to meet the individual needs of Pavers’ staff. Sarah Watson’s role within the company was developed to respond to the growing need for training at Pavers. Sarah explained how Carla had set out to identify a high quality training provider to develop a programme to address the training gaps in Pavers that weren't being covered by their in-house training provision.
“The relationship with the main tutor, for me, made all the difference and the fact that she was so flexible at adapting as we were going along made such a difference.”
Pavers place a keen focus on customer service and therefore one of the key modules on the “High Fliers” programme was based around recognising and delivering excellent customer service. The rest of the programme mainly covered leadership with some commercial skills training embedded within it. Sarah discussed how in organisations, commercial acumen is often a weakness in managers and therefore that was something that Pavers wished to embed within the training programme.
A focus was also placed on managing teams as Pavers have employees who have progressed to management positions because of their retail or other technical skills rather than their people management. Teaching these members of staff the important skills that they need to demonstrate within the workplace was a key part of the “High Fliers” programme.
“There will definitely be some improvements and changes in people's behaviour and some that they won’t even notice themselves.”
Sarah was introduced to the CPD Unit quite early on from starting her role at Pavers to the university’s associate tutor, Jo North. This relationship was key for Sarah as it meant that she could feedback directly to Jo between the course modules and discuss the content of future modules. Sarah explained how she appreciated how flexible Jo was with adapting the course and incorporating new material as Pavers deemed necessary. Sarah reflected on an unexpected benefit of the course, which was the increased interaction between staff working in the stores and those in head office. She described how there was normally quite a disconnect between these areas of the company, but the courses allowed the staff to gain an understanding of each other’s work and a respect for each groups challenges and objectives. Sarah explained how this effect is something that she thinks is invaluable to the company at large. From her positive experience, Sarah would recommend the University of York’s CPD Unit and the courses that they offer.