Bespoke business course gives management wings
(16 January 2007)
Managers at Newcastle International Airport are flying high after completing a unique management development programme with Durham Business School.
Fifteen managers from each of the airport’s departments, including motor and transport, IT and air traffic control, participated in a bespoke Management Development Programme, designed to develop key leadership skills including communication, teamwork, innovation and resource use. Angie Harris, Human Resources Manager and herself a participant on the programme, explained why the airport decided to invest in this type of initiative. “We carried out a strategic review during 2006 to look at ways to develop management competencies through training and research which highlighted the specific areas we wanted to improve on. “The age of supervisory-level staff across the airport is quite young and they all have bags of enthusiasm but we identified a need to develop the key skills to match, which is why it was timely to develop the capabilities in all departments throughout the airport.” Durham Business School has already worked in partnership with Newcastle International Airport, with the success of some of the School’s MBA students working on projects in the airport’s commercial department. Angie explained: “Durham Business School designed the course based exactly on the findings from our strategic review, which made the programme personalised and unique to us. We did not want an academic course, but something very practical, as it was vital that we could apply the skills whilst we were learning. “Durham Business School had the track record and capability to take Newcastle International Airport forward - it was the natural place to turn to for a tailor-made programme which responded to our immediate business needs!” The Airport’s Management Development Programme was split over a seven-month period and, with the exception of the first induction workshop, all sessions took place at the airport in Woolsington, Northumberland. Working in groups, or ‘learning sets’, of around four people has been an integral part of the programme, and has proved an important element for Airport staff. Angie Harris explained: “Many of us are quite isolated from each other with the nature of the work we do and where we work, so the learning sets have been really useful in enabling us to develop networks across the company.” Within the learning sets, participants looked at how they would address relevant ‘live’ issues, such as how to increase commercial revenues. For one participant, Diane Potts, team leader in the Airport’s Security department, the Management Development Programme has been the catalyst in raising her confidence. Diane explained: “I’d recently been promoted to team leader, which is part of the management team. I felt I was lacking in confidence as I had no actual management training, and didn’t have a great understanding of what management is all about. “The programme has been a big learning experience for me; it has given me self-belief and I definitely feel more assertive. In fact, my colleagues have seen a real difference in me!” Teamwork and how to motivate, listen to and communicate with staff, were parts of the programme which Diane found particularly useful. She said: “I learned how important this all is and especially how vital it is to keep all my staff up-to-date. I feel what I’ve learned has impacted positively on my team. With recent security alerts continuing to impact on the nation’s airports, Diane’s team plays a critical role in protecting the public’s safety. She added: “The programme has been very beneficial in giving me the confidence to deal with members of the general public. The learning sets have given me a much better understanding of how other departments work, and allowed all the delegates to work together as one team, which is part of the Airport’s vision. “On a personal level, it has made what felt like a daunting job much easier, and I know that other colleagues are very keen to take part too, seeing what a difference it’s made to me!” Newcastle Airport’s recent association with Durham Business School could be the start of more things to come, with plans for other members of staff to participate in programmes on an annual basis. Philip Vale, Director of Executive Education and Enterprise said: “It has been a pleasure to work in partnership with the airport to create this bespoke programme. A key part of our mission at Durham Business School is to offer programmes that create real value for organisations in the region. We combine best management practice with key research insights to offer programmes and courses that have an international reputation. In this case, the delegates all had great potential and I am delighted that they have gained so much from the programme. We very much look forward to working with Newcastle International Airport in the future.”