Walking through the office, Emma Heerah passed one of the glass meeting rooms and noticed a presenter talking to a group of women with a slide on the screen explaining presence at work.
Intrigued, she went to her employer Arcadis’ learning and development team to discover it was the company’s Women in Engineering programme – a five-day leadership and coaching course designed and delivered by Skills 4.
“I really wanted to take part so the company enrolled me on the next course,” said Emma. “A lot of training is very technical or role specific but soft skills are just as important as professional accreditations.
“The Skills 4 training was refreshing – it is not often that employees are able to go on a course with like-minded people and be frank about the challenges they are facing in the workplace, whether that be managing our own career development or how to conduct difficult conversations.
“It was eye-opening to have 20 women from different parts of the business sharing their experiences. The trainers were superb – giving honest, real-life examples and how they have incorporated this into the course is incredibly useful. It is not two-dimensional or dry, these examples bring everything to life.”
Since completing the training, Emma has been promoted to Head of Talent Acquisition at Arcadis, the global Design & Consultancy firm for natural and built assets – leading the team in the UK and its offshore centre of excellence in Manilla, developing a directing sourcing recruitment model which positions Arcadis as an employer of choice in the market allowing them to attract the brightest and best talent in the market.
“I found some of the techniques I learnt on the course very useful when coming into my new role,” said Emma. “Thinking back on some of the conversations on networking and confident communication definitely helped me.”
The cohort on the course has become a network, which has been another positive development.
Emma has achieved a place on Arcadis Accelerated Leadership Programme and says support from an expert in change and business transformation she met through the Skills 4 training helped in her successful application.
“The network is vital and has made it an even more enjoyable place to work,” says Emma. “I have met people I didn’t know, some I did know and others who I thought I knew through the training. We have a valuable new resource. I was in a meeting recently when we were discussing creating a video to help us reflect the diverse talent we have in Arcadis to attract new recruits. Two of the women from the course were perfect examples and they agreed to take part so I am certainly leveraging the network.”
With a degree from the University of Kent and a Chartered Institute of Personal Development qualification in HR, 33-year-old Emma advises all employees to take their own personal development seriously.
“It is very inspiring to work alongside women in senior positions, and you can learn a lot from strong role models” she says, “but you have to take time out of your diary to understand your own personal development goals. Stop, think, reflect and practice some of these crucial skills”
“The Skills 4 trainers have helped improve my confidence at work and focus how I achieve my career aspirations.
“I think I was OK at presenting before the course but now I am better prepared and more confident in what I am doing.
“I have also benefitted from the coaching offered as part of this course, this has made me accountable for the goals we discussed and work through some of the challenges encountered on the way.
“What makes the course so good is the professionalism, knowledge, life-experiences and the skills the trainers bring – they deliver it in a fun and enjoyable way – that’s what sets it apart.”