1996 führte das Unternehmen Nortel Networks in Kooperation mit Barton Trust, dem Vorläufer von campbridge, ein Camp mit Kindern aus katholischen und evangelischen Gemeinden Nordirlands und der Republik Irland durch. Dafür wurde das Unternehmen mit dem „Northern Ireland Training Award“ ausgezeichnet. Peter Jones, damaliger Leiter der Personalentwicklung von Nortel in Irland, fasst seine Erfahrungen zusammen.
Peter Jones, Learning & Development Manager, Nortel Networks Irland
Bei der Preisverleihung. Von links nach rechts: Peter Jones, James Ellis (irischer Schauspieler), Charlie Wigzell (CEO Barton), Chris Conway (Vice President Nortel Networks)
What is the business context of Nortel in Ireland?
Nortel Networks is a multinational telecommunications company with more than 50.000 employees worldwide. The Northern Ireland operation is based at Monkstown, just outside Belfast. Approximately 720 people are employed in the Manufacturing Division, a further 220 in an R&D centre on site.
The industry is particularly competitive, as our products could be manufactured in any high-quality facility in the world. The only real differentiator to competition is people. We need to ensure that we take our natural local advantages of good education, enthusiasm and humour and add high quality training, both in terms of technical and interpersonal skills.
An apparently unrelated need was our desire to be a “good corporate neighbour” to the local community. Especially in the present political climate we were interested in promoting co-operation between communities in the North and South. We have been particularly interested in supporting schools and colleges, whose students may be part of our future workforce.
Why we selected Barton?
We have used outdoor experiential learning extensively in recent years. These have been of some considerable benefit, but it has been pointed out that the activities themselves are of no value outside the context of the course. It was then that we became aware of Barton Training, which uses children camps as the medium for management training. This involves running a real project and asking many questions of the individual, while at the same time providing much practical knowledge.
In January 1995, when we took the decision to proceed, I discussed with my training counterpart in Nortel's Galway plant the possibility of running a joint venture between the two sites. We agreed to target five graduates from each plant and to approach the education authorities north and south of the border, with a view to having eighteen children from the environs of each factory, thus adding a cross-community dimension. The event was held at Killary Outdoors centre in Connemara from 18th to 26th of August 1995. During the week the delegates organised windsurfing, canoeing, power boating, archery, baseball, arts & crafts, a day at the beach, visits to local places of interest, hill walking and swimming. The highlight was a concert, which the children wrote, staged and performed themselves.
What was the impact of the course on the delegates?
The course was challenging. The delegates were supervising the children from 7am until 8pm. If an activity was not working as well as anticipated, the feedback from the children was immediate and to the point! In the evenings the delegates reviewed the day with the course directors and planned the next day, getting to bed often after two or three in the morning. Combined with the emotional involvement with the children, it meant that for all the delegates the experience was particularly intense.
The consensus was that the learning was correspondingly effective, as one delegate described it: “Unlike an 'ordinary' course, there is no manual from this one to be put on the shelf and be forgotten about. The learning lies in the minds and the hearts of each of us.” It was impossible to watch the children getting on the coaches for their homeward journey to their respective communities and not feel that we had achieved something special.
The individuals have returned from the programme with enhanced skills, confidence and self-belief. They have made a significant impact on their teams since their return, and have been able to pass on some of their newly acquired skills to their colleagues. The spirit of the camp, I believe, is captured in the following statement of one of the delegates: “By the end we felt like a professional basketball team, where when you throw a pass, you knew someone was there to catch it”.
What were the benefits to our organisation?
The programme has helped us persuade managers that development can mean more than just conventional courses, and that helping the community is a desirable side effect. Better quality development and a considerable degree of support for community groups have been the result. The benefits to the organisation can be summarised as follows: