Continuing professional development: staff development at the CBI
For many organisations, retaining good staff is an issue, but the CBI is aware that investing in development helps address this.
- Chris Cassley began at the CBI in 2002 as a team administrator, but has been encouraged to stay and has progressed to his current role of Policy Advisor in Enterprise and Manufacturing.
- Chris had thought of doing a degree in order to progress, having left school at 17, and after he had proved his potential at the CBI he found his manager was very supportive of this idea. He chose to do the BA Politics and Society at Birkbeck, which he started in 2004. The CBI paid three-quarters of the fee for the first year of Chris’s study; then, when he successfully completed this, they paid the full fee for the remaining three years.
- Thinking about his time at Birkbeck, Chris reflects that it was a very good fit for his situation: ‘One of my main memories is that the lecturers always understood that we had a life, had other commitments. They understood that sometimes you need flexibility for some deadlines. And the CBI is based at CentrePoint which is so close to Birkbeck, so I could easily come into the library at lunchtime.’
- Chris’s main motivation for doing the degree was to be able to progress within the CBI, and he feels it stretched him beyond his previous role: ‘Doing the degree taught me to be more proactive, to use my initiative more. The study leads you to question and challenge, to think ahead.’
- Guy Bailey has worked at the CBI as a Senior Policy Advisor since 2007, with a varied remit which has recently included a 6-month secondment in Brussels. He had been working as a consultant on a management scheme in a car rental company when he started looking into taking a master’s to provide some stimulation beyond his role focused on data analysis.
- Guy already had a first and master’s degrees in History from York, and wanted to take a course where he could be sure that the teaching would be of a similar quality. He knew of Birkbeck’s teaching reputation, and so decided on the MSc Government, Policy and Politics, wanting to explore politics further and feeling that the opportunity to study in the evenings would fit best around the rest of his life.
- Shortly after being offered a place on the programme at Birkbeck, Guy was also offered the Senior Policy Advisor role at the CBI, and found that the master’s study fitted well with his job.
- ‘There was flexibility on both sides. The lecturers were flexible about deadlines when necessary and at the CBI I was always allowed to leave in time on days when I had a class.’
- Guy paid his own fees for the first of his two years of part-time study, but the CBI could see the benefit of this programme and it was agreed between HR and Management that they would pay for his second year. Even though Guy already had a master’s, the Birkbeck programme centring on politics was a development from his previous study in history, and also built on the skills.
- ‘The theory is useful in my current job as it gives insights into reasons for Government behaviour, but you also develop practical skills, such as being able to synthesise large amounts of information and present it coherently. Overall, though, the seminars were the most useful part of the course. The people on courses at Birkbeck are very motivated and bring interesting perspectives from their own workplaces. It means you have to develop your arguments well and think through how you are going to defend your point of view because there are robust discussions.’