Port drives succession and skills development with launch of Leadership Academy

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AV Dawson, owner and operator of Port of Middlesbrough, has launched a Leadership Academy with the aim to support the leadership and development of the next generation of business leaders. 

The AV Dawson Leadership Academy will in time, be open to any colleague in the business that aspires to develop. Consequently, it is the most wide-reaching development programme that the business has undertaken in the last decade and consequently a significant investment in its people.

The academy will equip colleagues with additional skills, while preparing them for future succession. It’s supported with personality profiling and bespoke development programmes which include one-to-one coaching sessions, masterclasses, guest speakers and an online resource portal.

The academy is the first major initiative launched by Louise Croce, after her promotion to AV Dawson’s people and culture director, and is designed to inspire and motivate colleagues, identify and address skills gaps in the workforce and also set out a clear path for succession. 

The academy is split into a number of cohorts, with the first group including senior managers within the business. The knowledge acquired during the programme will enable these managers to utilise their leadership skills to then support the other cohorts in the academy and share useful practical knowledge and tips.  

Louise Croce, AV Dawson’s people and culture director said: “The AV Dawson Leadership Academy is about investing in our colleagues now but also preparing them for the future and their next potential role.

“Before launching the Leadership Academy, we offered an opportunity for all colleagues to complete an aspirations survey, this helped us identify each colleague’s ambitions of what they wanted to achieve. We understand that not every colleague may want to progress and they could be completely happy in their current role, however they may still want to develop certain skills. 

“The survey found that over 80% of respondents, equating to nearly 50% of our colleagues, stated that they were keen to develop in their current role or an alternative role within the business. We also identified that over 40% of respondents stated they were wanting to progress into a leadership role, or were in a leadership role and wanted to progress within it.

“The programme is built with colleagues in mind, from succession and development plans to one-to-one coaching, there is a broad range of support that can be tailored to suit everyone. We have also ensured that every colleague in the business has a full and clear role profile, outlining the roles and responsibilities of each position. This is viewable by any colleague and is designed to give them an understanding of what skills are needed, to carry out these roles and helps the colleague understand how they need to develop if they would like to be considered for a particular role in the future. 

“This is a huge investment for the business, but we put our people first - it’s our duty to nurture and develop the current AV Dawson family, and The Leadership Academy absolutely supports this.”

Employees enrolled into the Leadership Academy have their own unique login to an online portal, where they can access resources, podcasts, webinars and book onto masterclasses. They can also share their feedback and experiences through the portal.

Colleagues enrolled in the academy have also undergone assessments to gauge emotional intelligence and personality tests, to better understand their hard and soft skills and identify improvement areas that may not be aware of. 

Louise continued: “We want colleagues to become the best version of themselves, so they are equipped with the skills needed for the future, whether they are part of the business or move on elsewhere.

“The Leadership Academy aligns with our values and is the next step for the business to inspire and support future generations.

Charlie Nettle, managing director designate said: “Louise’s recent appointment of people and culture director emphasises the focus the business has on promoting a positive and diverse culture. The business already had a number of initiatives in place to promote positive diversity but Louise’s promotion as people and culture director cements the business’ commitment to its future and the development of its people. Louise has a huge amount of invaluable experience and has already laid strong foundations within the business, this new role will really enable her to progress a number of initiatives and lead on the people and culture strategy for the business.”

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