Behind the wheel of learning & development

Chris Jefferies, learning and development manager, UK bus division, First Group, Weston-super-Mare

What does your job involve?
Motivating my immediate team and those HR/learning & development people we interact with to ensure all training activity is focused on getting ‘buses out and money in’ through concentrating on our key issues of safety, lost mileage, fleet appearance and punctuality.

What courses and events do you organise?
We have launched a new driver induction process across the UK this year. The aim is to retain more drivers for longer. The early indications are extremely positive and we are achieving the return on investment (ROI) we anticipated. This is largely due to a very focused project manager in my team and some fantastic efforts in the business to embrace change. Management and supervisory development has been a real focus in the past 18 months, catching up on an under-resourced area.

How did you get into learning & development?
I accepted the first job offer as a graduate – it happened to be in learning & development.

Why did you stay?
Every boss I have had has trusted in me to deliver. Right from Peter Radcliffe (Paula’s father), who showed me that we can all be winners, to my current boss.

What course or programme are you working on?
How EU legislation will significantly affect our approach to developing drivers. This is a fantastic opportunity that we need to embrace. I am trying to manage a clear course to implementation. Otherwise, it is reviewing all our L&D activity to ensure business relevance and that the expected return on investment is being generated.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
If you had asked me this five years ago, even as an eternal optimist, I would not have imagined I would have been involved in setting up 40 learning centres providing learning access to 60% of UK bus employees, developing a robust process for delivering NVQs and BTECs, and a range of credible learning & development opportunities at all levels in the business.

What’s the best training event you’ve attended?
A time management event 20 years ago run by James Noon, author of A Time. He helped me see it is how you use time to add value that matters.

How do you measure the impact of the training you deliver/organise?
That depends on the issues/needs to be addressed. But all development must start with a clear ROI, and must then demonstrate a positive impact on the organisation and be quantifiable.

When you were young what did you want to be?
Proud and honest, like my dad.

What’s your biggest bugbear?

What advice would you give to someone setting out on a career in learning & development?
Learn the business and keep learning. Be prepared to be disappointed. Be prepared to bounce back. Know how to celebrate success, especially of others. Be bold, have courage and act with integrity and trust.

Who would play you in a film of your life?
Ricky Gervais – he would make the serious and dull moments funny.

How do you like to relax?
By doing what my wife and two young children want me to do.

Do you want to feature in Careerfile?
If so e-mail  If you’re featured we’ll send you a cheque for 40.

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