Pioneering culture change

Pat Ashworth, 37, head of learning and development at Co-operative Financial
Services, talks about her work aligning key performance and leadership

What does your role involve?

The key aim of my role is to support the development of a single employee
culture for CFS [formed in April 2002 to bring the Co-operative Bank and
Co-operative Insurance Society under common leadership]. This involves
developing a professional, consistent approach to everything from induction and
orientation programmes to performance management and leadership development, so
that everyone in CFS is equipped to embrace the future challenges of the

What are the best and worst things about this job?

The best is the opportunity to really do things differently and get involved
with all aspects of the organisation as we go through major change. The worst
is having to say no.

What is your current major training project or strategic push?

I am developing a ‘Big 5’ suite of strategic drivers to help CFS achieve its
people objectives. It covers: performance management; leadership development;
team development; talent pool and succession management; and
orientation/induction to CFS.

Its aim is to raise organisational performance, improve bottom-line
productivity, create a single employment community and develop everyone in CFS
– no mean feat. I am working with people throughout the organisation to
identify what the key challenges are going to be over the coming years, so we
can ensure that CFS delivers on its promises.

What attracted you to training and development?

The opportunity to really help to develop people – and to see the effects of
that development throughout the organisation over time.

What are your favourite buzzwords?

Competency is a key buzzword as I am working hard to integrate a new
competency framework for CFS.

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

The challenge to develop people within a tight regulatory framework will
increase. The learning and development team will move to a more
consultancy-focused approach as the effects of the Big 5 are implemented, and
CFS staff become empowered.

What do you think will be the core skills for your job in the future?

Adaptability, lateral thinking and the ability to multi-task.

Are you good at self-development?

I’m becoming better every day. It’s sometimes hard to make the time, but I
do try to step back and see where I could improve.

What self-development have you undertaken in the past 12 months?

I have become psychometrically trained in some new tools.

How do you network?

Through working on various business projects, and. I always try to keep in
contact with people I’ve worked with.

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

I’m quite happy doing what I do, but I suppose a replacement for Michael
Parkinson would keep me cheerful. Especially if I could choose my guests –
George Clooney might be first on the invitation list.

Describe your management style.

Encouraging, challenging, optimistic.

What is your motto?

Doing things differently, doing things better.

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