Intellect Award for Innovation in Career Development

Award profile

This award recognises organisations that have adopted a proactive approach to career development for their staff. With career opportunities and development topping the wish-list for today’s employees, employers need to be creative to attract and retain the best. Finalists have demonstrated how career development fits in with their HR strategy and organisational goals.

HBOS General Insurance (GI)

The team – Business HR, Management Development
No. in team: 5  
No. in HR function: 30  
No. of employees HR is responsible for: 2,300

About the organisation

HBOS GI, a wholly-owned subsidiary of HBOS plc, arranges home and travel insurance for more than two million customers. It is the UK’s largest creditor insurer and the fourth biggest household insurer.

The challenge

To reduce the risk of exposure of losing key employees and to identify and developstaff potential.

What the organisation did



  • Developed a succession management strategy, centred on a best practice forum
  • Involved individuals at all levels across the company in regular discussions to understand their aspirations and to give them a clear message of how they are viewed
  • Reviewed and prioritised the talent pool against business objectives
  • Produced a strategy to identify key behavioural and technical competencies for all roles within the division, with a view to sharing information across the wider HBOS group.

Benefits and achievements



  • Development requirements were identified for approximately two-thirds of employees
  • Half of all staff who achieved a high rating in assessments have been promoted internally
  • Seven in 10 of those promoted were in the top third bracket of performers
  • Established a trained pool of assessors within the business, saving the company a significant amount of money.

Category judge Ruth Spellman says: “I liked the thorough approach to succession planning which is relatively rare in the financial services sector. The ‘owners’ are the people in the business, and they select from a number of activities and courses that suit them. Interestingly, this initiative will grow a pipeline of talent rather then just enable a fixed number of vacancies to be filled – a dynamic and engaging process.”

Fujitsu Services

The team – Organisation and People Development
No. in team: 8  
No. in HR function: 132  
No. of employees HR is responsible for: 15,200

About the organisation

Fujitsu Services, part of the Fujitsu Group, is an IT services provider with a turnover of almost £2bn, operating across 20 countries. It designs, builds, and operates IT systems and services for clients in financial services, retail, utilities and government markets.

The challenge

Identifying talented individuals from within the company to fill key account manager roles (there are only 150 in the whole company), rather than the traditional route of external recruitment. Evaluating candidates on future potential, not past performance.

What the organisation did



  • Partnered with business psychologists Xancam to identify the 10 most talented ‘undiscovered’ people to put through a fast-track development process
  • Drew up criteria to identify individuals with potential – emotional agility, strategic agility and hunger for learning
  • Whittled down 300 internal candidates to 40, based on a self-insight questionnaire
  • Those 40 were put through an assessment to test ‘high-potential differentiators’
  • Selection of 10 candidates with the most potential. In depth-feedback and development plans for those not selected.

Benefits and achievements



  • Nine months into the programme, business unit directors confirm that the new account managers have made a valuable contribution to the business
  • In one notable case, on a problem account, the new manager has increased customer satisfaction from five to 7.5 out of 10 and has boosted sales by 10%
  • Recruitment costs have fallen by 60%.

Category judge Ruth Spellman says: “I like the approach to developing talent from within and the emphasis on identifying staff potential. Many organisations try to do this, but are perceived as insincere or just unable to deliver. In Fujitsu’s case there was a 60% saving in recruitment costs and a very inclusive internal recruitment process.”

National Probation Directorate

The team – Diversity Unit
No. in team: 2  
No. in HR function:  34 
No. of employees HR is responsible for: 19,600

About the organisation

The National Probation Directorate (NPD) is, on behalf of the Home Secretary, responsible for the work of the National Probation Service and its operational management. It aims to protect the public, reduce re-offending, ensure proper punishment of offenders, and ensure their awareness of the effect that crime has on victims and the public, along with the rehabilitation of offenders.

The challenge

Ensuring that black and Asian staff and disabled employees can compete effectively for top jobs within the criminal justice system, to accurately reflect the community it serves.

What the organisation did



  • Initiated a wide-ranging, two-year training programme, dubbed ‘Accelerate’, which included two, seven-day residential sessions, a three-month work placement and coaching
  • Participants draw up a personal development plan. They are encouraged to reflect upon their plan regularly and review it looking for challenges that have been overlooked.

Benefits and achievements



  • After one intake of participants, 25% have progressed into senior roles
  • The Association of Black Probation Officers and the National Association of Asian Probation Officers have given support to the programme
  • Line managers have taken an active role in helping to develop participants.

Category judge Ruth Spellman says: “I really like the fact that everyone is responsible for their own learning, but this doesn’t mean they feel isolated or stranded. Everything is a circle. We’re each responsible for our own actions. It will come back. Staff in the Probation Service are often under a lot of pressure so teamwork is both an essential part of the leadership programme and running an effective service. I also thought the emphasis on accelerated development and on diversity was particularly appropriate.”

Ideal Standard

The team – Aspire
No. in team: 3
No. in HR function: 3
No. of employees HR is responsible for: 50

About the organisation

Ideal Standard, owned by American Standard, is a leading UK-based manufacturer of bathroom products.

The challenge

Following a merger with Armitage Shanks in 1999, the need for a new development programme for senior managers in the company was identified in 2001, with the aim of promoting ‘one-company thinking’.

What the organisation did



  • Four residential development events, branded ‘Aspire’, were held during 2002, aimed at board members and their direct reports. A fifth event was held in early 2003 for new managers
  • The programmes focused on three areas: business strategy, management skills and team-building
  • The course room was laid out in the style of a cabaret club and teams were chosen on a cross-functional, cross-site basis
  • Outcomes were in the form of cross-functional projects which teams were expected to complete after the event.

Benefits and achievements



  • The networking element of the Aspire programme was the strongest legacy. Recently, the organisation changed its name to Ideal Standard UK Limited, which happened with little comment. Three years ago, former Armitage Shanks employees would have complained, but the ‘one-company feeling’ is now much stronger
  • The first year after the programme was introduced, the company enjoyed record profits, which were directly linked to improvements driven by Aspire.

Category judge Ruth Spellman says: “In a merger situation, it is often too easy to assume that staff groups will come together without much proactive management. Unfortunately, this is the reason why many mergers fail. In this example, a great deal of emphasis was placed on staff buying in to the new organisational culture – enabling them to exercise control right from the beginning. The results so far are impressive. A development programme has grown into a movement.”

Specialists in HR and payroll solutions since 1992, Intellect provides a portfolio of high-performance products – the modular Workforce Suite, the specialist, enterprise-level, IndigaHR solution, plus the Ochre payroll and public sector systems – along with the expertise to unlock the strategic value of HR and payroll.

Category judge: Ruth Spellman, CEO, Investors in People (IIP) At IIP since October 1998, she previously spent seven years as HR director at the NSPCC – leading the organisation through a major modernisation programme – and was a senior consultant at Coopers & Lybrand, specialising in HR, business strategy and change.

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