Transmitting the right message

Bill Tolmie, 41, talks about how he is creating a career path for staff at
mobile airtime service provider Singlepoint where he is head of training and

What does your role involve?

The delivery of a strategic training and development service to all business

What is the best thing about this job?

Exceptional business-wide support for our evolving culture of learning and
development, against the downside that we all recognise in training, and that’s
the very challenging task of meeting business service level objectives, while
allowing people to attend training.

What is your current major training project or strategic push?

We have two key initiatives. We have recently launched a comprehensive NVQ
programme in a range of standard occupational classification areas, at levels
2-4. We recently gave level 2 customer care awards to more than 40 advisers.

More than 300 more staff are either awaiting induction or are on training
programmes. These people are a combination of NVQ and MA delegates on courses
which cover customer care, business administration, sales, and training and
development. We have just agreed new contractual terms with the National Skills
Council and things are moving at pace towards meeting our profile targets for
the number of people we sign up every month in the under-25s and over-25s age

Our initial findings suggest the NVQ programmes are excellent contributors
to staff retention and satisfaction.

We have also piloted a career progression scheme – the Pathways Programme –
which will be launched in all operational areas of the business by the end of

This initiative allows advisers who join the company to set out on a clearly
defined path through five mapped phases. Each phase has its own identity, a
clear series of training and development activities, and a series of coaching
and work-based experiences. This journey of growth and progression is
underpinned at every stage with a relevant national qualification – ranging
from Level 2 NVQ up to MBA level achievement.

What was your best career decision?

To leave engineering and join ‘personnel and safety’ as it was back in the
early 1980s.

What attracted you to training and development?

A less-than-subtle review, which clearly positioned my engineering
capability and a back-handed compliment in the same meeting which suggested I
was better with people than machines – by some long way apparently. Someone had
spotted that I spent more time helping the junior apprentices than I did
sorting out my own mess.

How do you think that your job will have changed in five years’ time?

The role will become much more aligned to organisational development
projects and company-wide ‘culture’ initiatives and change programmes which are
focused on ‘the way we do business’. We will be more focused on behavioural
development, rather than pure skills development.

What are your least favourite buzzwords?

I don’t like any buzzwords. I dislike ‘intellectual horsepower’ and
‘competencies’ or anything connected with them.

If you could have any job in the world what would it be?

Golfer – or any highly paid sports role.

What is your motto?

Plan for what you know as facts – don’t beat yourself up about what might
be. And remember, it’s only a job, not life itself.

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