Amanda Watkins, Notcutts HR and Safety Manager
Notcutts is a relatively small retail organisation, without a training and development function, but we do believe in developing and promoting from within where ever possible. The Oxford Summer School experience gives us the opportunity to provide those people identified as our leaders of the future with some external support and insights into the retail world outside garden centres.
To date we have had five delegates at either the Academy or Foundation schools. Three have been promoted since attending and this year’s delegates are both taking on wider challenges than they had faced before the experience.
To say that the delegates return to the business having been ‘blown away’ by the experience would be an understatement, and the value it adds to the business is unquestionable.
I had hoped the OSS Foundation course would provide me with a better understanding of who I am as a manager. I expected to learn new ways of leading from other retailers. And, having been coached by some great mentors in the past, coaching was one of the specific areas of study I especially looked forward to – I’m keen to pass on my retail experience to others, and equally keen on developing the skills to do so.
Once I made it to OSS, I soon realised the course would give me the confidence in the abilities that I already have. It also helped me become more comfortable with public speaking, which had always been a weakness – OSS put me in a situation where my public presentation skills were challenged every day, something that can only be of benefit.
Having great, confidence-boosting speakers and lecturers was an added bonus. Jo Walker made a particular impression, for her enthusiasm and drive to succeed.
My whole OSS experience has been - if you pardon the cliché - life-changing. It’s clear to me that being at the OSS has ensured I’m on my way to becoming a better leader. It’s only a shame that it goes so quickly!