How I made a difference: creating a company culture

Liverpool One is the largest city centre urban regeneration scheme in Europe. It opened this year, in two phases, the first on 22 May, and the second in October.

I was the third member of the team when I joined in September 2007, so my team and I have been absolutely key to the project.

In April this year, we recruited 77 people, all of whom started on the same day. We started with blank pieces of paper and we had to develop a strategy to support Liverpool One’s vision – to be the most successful retail and merchandising destination in the UK.

The chief executive and I designed a people strategy, and came up with three values – one city, one passion, one team – that would define our culture. We have to manage the security, cleaning, and customer services staff for a very wide ranging scheme, which includes shops, cinemas and hotels. And we support our retailers, too, so it was vital that we had the right culture in place from the start.

To reflect our values, we needed people who believed in their city, so we recruited locally. My team and I worked very hard to ensure that we communicated the brand.

When I came on board, none of the local people knew what Liverpool One was, other than a building site and a source of mess and heavy traffic. We sold that as a positive. I wanted the brand to be perceived as inclusive, and Liverpool One to be seen as an employer of choice.

I went out into the local community to do outreach work in areas of high unemployment, or in place that were undergoing regeneration. I met black racial minority groups, to tell them who we were and to encourage them to be a part of Liverpool One.

We developed a strong partnership with Shop for Jobs, working with them on projects such as pre-employment training. We also worked closely with Remploy, to support applicants with disabilities.

We’re at the stage now where we don’t have to advertise in the local papers. We’ve created exactly the culture we wanted, where people are happy to say to their family and friends ‘Come and work for us – Liverpool One is a great place to work’.

Why it worked

  • Clear about our values
  • Defined our culture up front
  • We recruited proactively

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