Graeme Hall
Learning & Development Process Lead — Typhoon
Warton Aerodrome


The Eurofighter Typhoon is the main fighter aircraft for the RAF squadrons. It started life in the early 1980s when it was developed to take over from the Tornado. Built on a multi-partner basis, with British, Spanish, German and Italian teams all involved, it is regarded as being one of the best fighter aircrafts in the world.

Graeme Hall is the Learning and Development Manager for the Typhoon project at BAE Systems in Warton, Lancashire. As part of his role he manages the training budget for the entire 4,000 staff but the bulk of that is aimed at the professionals, who make up about two-thirds of the working population there. Liz McCormac at McCormac Development & Training Ltd (MD&T) had originally started work with BAE Systems in October 2005 with a brief to make their recruitment process more effective and it was through that work the MD&T team were first introduced to Graeme. Since then they have been making use of the Assess system in order to make training and development more effective.

The issues:

Prior to 2006 the company had used other types of psychometric testing reports but, while they provided a snapshot of an individual, the results did not relate to any of the key competencies and skills the jobs entailed. Thus they still left an element of guesswork. Graeme wanted a way of using the tests so that they would relate directly to selection, personal development reviews and return on investment. This led MD&T to recommend the web-based Assess tool as a comprehensive solution to meet these needs.

What Graeme wanted to really benefit the Typhoon HR team was the ability to measure competencies with the real life roles and priorities at Warton. With MD&T’s guidance using Assess we were able to create a totally bespoke package that looked at the criteria and priorities of a particular role — First Level Leadership for example — and make sure they were directly applicable to the BAE setup.

The results:

Working directly with Liz McCormac and her team, BAE Systems has been able to ‘bespoke’ the Assess tools so that they relate directly to the competencies within their specific job roles.

12-month training programmes are then generated for individuals with a real focus on areas that need to be developed. BAE Systems is also looking at Assess 360 competency based feedback reports, particularly for people with high potential or to raise the performance levels of those who are struggling. In all cases the tool points them in a direction of how they are going to develop.

Working with MD&T and the Assess tool is also bringing about a change in the culture at BAE. Traditionally, training was regarded as a job for the HR department; with the help of Liz and Assess it is now the focus of the line managers too. There are regular briefings between Graeme’s HR team and the line managers on how they want the process to continue. The Typhoon has such an established history that there are already lots of ways that training and development can be synergised into the working environment. That means the training development plans have genuine meaning for the individuals because they relate directly to courses that are available at the organisation.

More than 500 members of staff have been through the Assess development process and more are planned. In addition, BAE Systems is also putting more and more people onto RAF bases, and they too are beginning to show interest in how the MD&T and the Assess system can help them, from selection to development, talent management, performance review and return on investment.

Graeme says:

“If I were asked by people whether to use the services of Liz McCormac at MD&T, I would say, ‘definitely do it.’ The accessibility and responsiveness is fantastic. Whenever you need data, support or answers to queries it’s immediately available. We work very closely together, meeting regularly and we have developed a coaching and mentoring strategy which is constantly evolving. I also have the reassurance of knowing that MD&T offers a comprehensive technical back-up support team. MD&T has looked specifically at our business and tailored their service to our needs.

“Some people have been initially sceptical of the approach but a lot of that is because this is an engineering firm and engineers like things to be either right, wrong or fit perfectly, so sometimes there is initial mistrust of the tool. Some individuals may see it as a general route to promotion, but once we explain the benefit of how it can be used as a fair and robust development tool these misconceptions are cleared up.

“The main thing for me is that it is working. We are able to build tangible targets into personal development reviews, three times a year, and the results speak for themselves.”



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