Grainne Patterson's journey
What are your day-to-day responsibilities at TCE? I sit within our HR team as the main Learning and Development lead for the company. This involves managing the learning and development initiatives across all TCE sites, ranging from talent programmes and technical training to e-learning.
Where did you work previously and what has this previous experience brought to your current role? I previously held a similar role at Ashtead Plant Hire for 12 years, working multi-site across the UK. My experience of managing apprenticeship programmes and management development programmes has ensured that I was equipped with the skills and knowledge to hit the ground running at TCE.
What did you see as the biggest challenges when you joined the business and how have you tackled them? I’d say that my biggest challenge was not having any direct experience of the manufacturing and chemical industry. However, I spent my first month in the role visiting the sites and meeting the key people who were only too happy to share their knowledge. This was a great help in increasing my understanding of the business.
Getting out on site and spending time with the operators was a great way to get a feel for the industry and the specific work that goes on. The willingness of everyone to not only help me in my own understanding, but also to embrace and support Learning and Development has made my assimilation into TCE so much easier!
What are the highlights/what are you most proud of? To date I am most proud of securing our six apprentices and getting them on board working in partnership with our Managers and Warrington & Vale College.
Do you think employee engagement has increased in Learning and Development activities? Yes, I’m very pleased to say that employee engagement has certainly increased. As a direct result of going out on site and speaking to managers we’ve seen an influx of training requests form interested employees. It’s our aim to be more proactive than reactive and the introduction of the new, automated course system should also reinforce this approach.
Starting with our MD’s example and running throughout the company I see ‘People’ as the focus at TCE and I believe this will continue to reap positive effects and make my role in L&D all the more fulfilling.
Are certain types of training now in greater demand? From speaking to senior managers, there is a desire to focus on the team leader population in the organisation ensuring they are equipped with the relevant skills and knowledge to effectively manage their team and prepare them for future development opportunities within the organisation.
Have you seen the role of HR Learning & Development teams change over the years? Yes, it has changed with the evolution of the HR/Learning & Development business partnering model. This enables us to work closely with business leaders and line managers to build capabilities, manage talent and develop fresh approaches that achieve shared organisational goals. In the past six months, I have seen evidence of this here at TCE through such initiatives as succession planning and investing in apprentices as the talent pipeline for the future.
Changes in how training is delivered has prompted a move from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to a more blended learning method, combining traditional classroom methods, e-learning and independent study which can be evidenced at TCE through the talent programmes.
What advantageous changes in L&D do you see taking place at TCE in the coming months & longer- term future? We’re already looking to an increase in our investment in training as well as a longer term target the target of doubling the number of new apprentices.
Joe Evans’ journey
How did you get to where you are now?
“My current job title is Operations Co-ordinator at the Middlewich site, and I have been privileged to have been in a number of roles, both permanent and on developmental secondments.
This path has enabled me to gain some valuable and varied experience, which really helps me in my current role.
Prior to joining Tata, I had completed an apprenticeship in Advanced Laboratory Techniques with AstraZeneca in the pharmaceutical industry. My role was based primarily in Research and Development.
My first role at Tata was as a Process Operator working in the Lime Plant at our Lostock site, when I joined the company in June 2011.
From there, I was given the opportunity to take a secondment as an Improvement Project Co-ordinator, which involved planning and tracking the progress of various improvement projects across our Lostock site.
I then took on another secondment as a Laboratory Manager, based at our Winnington site. This involved leading and managing a team of five Laboratory Analysts to complete routine and investigative analysis.
The next stage of my progression was to take on the role of Plant Technologist, based in the Sodium Bicarbonate Plant at our Winnington site. The role was part of the Technical team and involved various projects, laboratory analysis, resolution of operational issues and dealing with customer queries.”
How has Tata’s training programme helped you?
I’ve had access to lots of really useful training. The most recent training I have undertaken is my Lean Six Sigma Black Belt training. This methodology helps me enormously in my day-to-day role, as well as when I’ve worked on various projects.
The training has taught me how to manage an issue or project opportunity in a structured and methodical way, in order to obtain the optimal results for the business.
Have you had any assistance with your career progression?
“One of the most positive points I have found whilst working for Tata is that from day one, all of my managers have supported my development. Because I have been involved in a number of roles, I have been able to observe different management styles, and I would like to think I have learned something different from each manager. My more experienced colleagues have also been very keen to pass on their knowledge and of course, without this, it would be very difficult to succeed!
All of the managers I have had at Tata have been very good at identifying where I need to improve and then pushing me out of my comfort zone – I think this is the best way to learn and develop.”
What advice do you have for anyone considering a career at Tata Chemicals Europe?
“My advice for anybody starting at Tata would be to look for opportunity. I feel that the company is keen to develop both new and existing people, so it is up to the individual to show ability and the willingness to go the extra mile in order to develop.
For example, I was once unsuccessful when applying for a job as a Shift Control Room Leader at our Lostock site. After the interview process, the Plant Manager at the time gave me some very constructive feedback which enabled me to focus on what I needed to do to be successful in the future. I was then seconded to work on projects, and from that point I have had numerous opportunities to show my ability.”