WW:Academy - External Expertise

As part of our commitment to excellence, we invited leading external experts to speak at our recent Academy sessions. Project Managers, Architects, and Contractors presented on the themes of lessons learned and sparked valuable conversations. 

WWe welcomed our largest gathering of Academy members yet at our WW:Academy training sessions, across levels 2, 3 & 4 in May and June.

Staff from our eight offices across the UK took two days away from their desks to come together and engage in discussions, team-building exercises and sessions aimed at enhancing leadership skills and fostering cross-discipline communication. 

These groups consist of three levels. Level 2 are our Junior and Graduate staff, Level 3 are Mid-Level to Senior and Level 4 are our Management and Next Generation Leadership. Academy courses last varying lengths of time depending on stage and we had record numbers of attendees as we continue to bring in new staff at each level. Since launching in 2022, we’ve had 54 staff participating in our Academy with the biggest group at Level 2.

As part of our commitment to excellence, we invited leading external experts to speak at our sessions. Project Managers Thomas & Adamson, BDP Architects, and FES presented on the themes of lessons learned and sparked valuable conversations.

Thomas & Adamson led an interactive talk on best collaboration models and aligning expectations, emphasising the importance of cross-discipline communication and effective collaboration. They spoke at length with our Level 2 members to provide a deeper understanding of the role of Project Management across a project and we thank Murray Halliday, Richard Burgham Pearson, Kieran Toner and Andrew Campbell for their time.

BDP Architects shared a compelling case study of the Newmains & St Brigid’s Community Hub project, which both WW and BDP worked on for North Lanarkshire Council. They shared the architectural journey in designing a project like this school merger with local community services, from public consultations to concept drawings, down to final designs. This project is now a much appreciated hub with spaces for everyone, but wasn’t without its challenges and there were some great learning points to pass on to the next generation. Thanks to Lindsey Mitchell, Brad Morrison and Sandra Gallagher from BDP for their time taking us on the architectural journey of a project.

Our speakers from FES took us on-site, explaining the critical role of integration of communication in the early stages of design and seamless collaboration with external parties and providers throughout the project lifecycle. This session provoked a lot of conversation at all levels, with our members asking about common issues and how to avoid these in future between MEP Consultants and Contractors. Stuart Lochrie and Gordon McNeil gave an honest and engaging insight and we appreciate them giving us their time and expertise.

A thread across all external sessions was early intervention and prevention, specifically with regards to communication and project work across stages. Discussions centered around expectations vs RIBA stages/BG6 guidelines, timelines and avoiding overspend. This contact time is invaluable for our engineers, particularly our newer generations who haven’t spent as much time in contact with wider design teams and on site yet. Bringing in new perspectives has sparked conversation, debate and given our teams an advantage for the future. 

This year, our two-day training kicked off with a session led by our QA & Standardisation Manager and our Academy Manager. They reiterated the crucial importance of Quality of Product and Quality of Service, a core message that has been central to our training since the inception of WW:Academy. Notably, each session from the external presenters also emphasised this theme.

The session reviewed our continuous improvements, outlined future goals, and highlighted positive feedback from satisfied clients. Additionally, it featured an interactive quiz on the BS EN ISO 19650 standard naming convention protocols, adding an engaging element to the learning experience

At our previous sessions at the end of 2023, we set our Academy members a presentation task, a fee-bid for a project, which they had to deliver in teams to our Glasgow Director, Barry McKeane, alongside Ian Gracie, Drum Property Group. This time, Barry came along to deliver his own feedback and takeaways from watching those presentations. He highlighted key areas for development but also explored the idea that people have different strengths, and not everyone will thrive in that environment but can, for example, provide key technical knowledge. It was a really interactive session where members addressed their ‘Umms’ and ‘Emms’, their speed of delivery, presentation layouts and shared tips for the nerves!

At Wallace Whittle, we’ve invested heavily in the development of our staff to ensure a quality of product and service, but also a healthy work life for our teams. We spoke to our Academy Manager, Paul Hargreaves, about these first sessions of 2024. 

The Academy was really busy this year. After seeing the first staff members develop so well, we’ve now enrolled everyone in the business under the age of 24 in addition to the existing members. We pushed the importance of communication and how the quality of what we deliver reflects on us as individuals and as a business. The Academy is really growing and the messages we’re sending out are being seen throughout the company on a day-to -day basis.Paul Hargreaves, Academy Manager.

We also have a dedicated Quality & Standardisation Manager, Raymond Kelly, who has 45 years of experience in the industry. He works alongside Paul to drive the learning and development sessions, with a core thread of our non-negotiable drive for quality.  

Being part of our WW Academy, and in particular these Training Sessions means being part of the development of the younger people coming through the business, which is very rewarding to me on a personal basis. It’s incredibly satisfying, witnessing the growth in individual skill sets and even just the increase in self-confidence especially in those who have been with us over the last few years of the WW:Academy is fulfilling.

The Training Sessions also give me an opportunity to reinforce our message of maintaining the very highest of standards and quality in relation to the WW product to which we continually seek to improve upon. The engagement from our younger staff and their understanding of the part which they play in that objective is very reassuring and puts us in good shape for continual growth in our pursuit to provide a market leading quality of product and quality of service.Raymond Kelly, Quality & Standardisation Manager.

We wrapped up each level with a face to face session with our Managing Director, Allan McGill. He opened the floor to questions and feedback, and delivered a company update. We truly believe the power of openness and honesty from our senior team is key to trust and dedication across all levels. 

We are proud of this industry-leading initiative as we continue to develop our staff at all levels. From partnering with LinkedIn Learning to provide our on-going digital learning, to bringing in external expertise to widen perspectives – we’re committed to empowering our teams to grow personally and professionally. 

To find out more about our Academy, read more here or get in touch with us at [email protected]