I take care of the people who work for The Hendy Group, is a business that is 165 years old.

The Hendy Group is an automotive group that operates on the south coast between Eastbourne and Exeter.

My role is Director of People and Organisational Development – which is a long title, but effectively I am responsible for designing the people strategy that develops, rewards and engages our talent and builds capability for the future. I joined the group five years ago. Within this is our learning and development academy in Portsmouth, which we’re very proud of, as it delivers 95% of the development our colleagues need, running from early career development to management and leadership.

We’re pleased to be one of the finalists of the best places to work in Dorset last year, and we feel the way we train and look after and develop our colleagues has been crucial to that. When I joined the group, a lot of our hiring was done through agencies, which incurred a high cost for what was felt to be poorer quality than it could be.

I wanted to get the right values and integrity into our hiring practices, as well as encourage diversity into our workforce. What we used to do was mainly hire people with a proven sales background – and while that still happens, what we’ve been proactively doing is seeking out people who we recognise as having traits that mean they are right to be trained for a sales or other role within the group. We are looking to develop talent internally, more and more. Doing so has opened up opportunities for people searching for their first role – but also, for people who want to change careers. We have a service targeted initiative called Switch which invites people from a range of backgrounds to be trained in vehicle preparation and smart repair which is proving to be successful.

Our apprenticeship programme is a three year one for service technicians, mostly populated by school or college leavers. These candidates not only become technicians, but we offer apprenticeships in sales, marketing and other areas of the business. We know that our people are our greatest resource and setting them each up for success is critical. Our overall learning curriculum supported by the Academy team does wonders for colleague morale, career progression, productivity and retention.