Selbey Anderson College Welcomes First Cohort of Learners

Simon Quarendon | April 1, 2021


Hot on the heels of its group-wide skills audit, Selbey Anderson is launching a comprehensive training and skills development package for all group employees. The Selbey Anderson College, which was created as a team-building and motivational exercise during lockdown I, re-opens this April. The College was created by group COO, Simon Quarendon, who explains what it’s all about.

Shoes polished. Pencils sharpened. Lunch boxes packed. Well, not exactly, but the Selbey Anderson College is about to welcome its first cohort of learners and by the end of this year we hope that every member of staff will have been enrolled into it.

The College represents one of our most ambitious people-related strategies this year and forms an essential part of our plan to offer every member of staff a personalised learning pathway. Enrolling in the College gives each student access to the Udemy for Business platform and its 5,000+ courses. Of course, we don’t expect our students to enrol in that many,  but we do expect them to focus on three study areas.

Learning to Help the Group

These are training courses that we have mandated at a group level and which will help the group achieve its strategic objectives, including offering clients premium (and future-proofed) services.

To do that we need to upskill our staff in areas such as behavioural and social science, customer insight and big data. These disciplines (amongst others) will continue grow in importance and further improving our collective expertise will become a source of competitive advantage.

Learning to Help the Agency

These are training courses that will help each agency achieve its own growth plan or corporate objectives. These plans have been shared with all staff at agency kick off meetings earlier this year and those areas where the staff can contribute have been identified.

Ensuring that the agencies’ people have the skills needed to deliver the services listed on their websites will be a key task for our management teams.

Learning to Help the Individual

These are training courses that will help each member of staff to achieve their personal growth plans. These are discussed with all staff at their quarterly performance reviews and which look to identify those areas in their roles where they need to further enhance existing skills or acquire new ones.

Each learner will then identify relevant courses on the Udemy platform within these study areas that they can sign up to. Over time, we expect them to recommend courses to each other and so we’ll continuously refine the process. We will also look to add content to The College from other sources, including internal training courses, induction videos and webinars hosted by agency management.

‘Mind the Gap’

The process by which we identified these potential group, agency or individual skills gaps was made easier thanks to another project carried out earlier in the year. Using a specialist software programme called Skills Base, we asked each member of staff to take part in a ‘skills audit’.

The information gleaned from these audits has now presented to each agency’s senior management team as a skills ‘heat map’ which has provided – in a highly visual way – where the gaps were. To read more about this project, click here.

We’re confident that the bi-annual skills audits and quarterly performance reviews, together with the wealth of analysis data that the Udemy platform provides will give us the information we need to ensure that demonstrable upskilling is taking place and that all staff are continuously improving the skills that are needed to make them, their agencies and the Selbey Anderson group of real and lasting value to clients.

Of course no amount of online training can replicate the importance of learning on the job and we will be keen to see all our staff return to a suitable work environment as soon as its safely and practically possible.

Stemming the Brain Drain

These programmes should help stem the ‘brain drain’; that unfortunate situation where small agencies, although undeniably more fun places to work in, lose bright staff to larger agencies who can offer more learning and development opportunities and more structured career paths.

We intend to offer our staff the best of both worlds, the fun of working in a small creative agency within the structure of a large group.

Simon Quarendon

Simon Quarendon is a veteran marketer and communicator with a career spanning nearly 40 years. He has bought, built, sold, rescued, led and mentored just about every kind of creative communications agency in existence and run global accounts for the best in the world. Today, Simon runs the business end of Selbey Anderson, working across the group to make sure clients get the best and the agencies all prosper.