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BVAA's Future Leaders Programme - shaping their industry's future

BVAA – the British Valve & Actuator Association – are well into the fourth year of their innovative ‘Future Leaders Programme’ (FLP)




‘It is quite possibly the most rewarding activity of my career.’ This ringing endorsement – and there have been many – comes not from the programme’s delegates, but from the BVAA’s Director & CEO, Rob Bartlett.


“The programme has had an amazing effect on all those involved in it,’ says Bartlett. ‘I believe we all instinctively knew the FLP had terrific potential, but we’ve been very impressed by the successes of the first few cohorts, and the tremendous impact it has had on all the delegates since its launch.”


“Each year we have honed, expanded and improved the FLP content, and the current cohort will be the first to see their efforts recognised by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), as a formal qualification.’


Not just for Valves

Bartlett added, ‘The truly great thing about the FLP however is that it is not just restricted to the valve industry. Any trade sector or organisation could utilise our model to upskill and retain their own industry workforce!’


What is the FLP?

In 2016, BVAA launched a new programme specially designed to develop a small group of future leaders for the industry.


Eleven individuals were identified by their employers as having the right qualities and potential to become leaders within their own organisations. They were put through a range of exercises and activities designed to help them Fast Track their experiences within the industry, ramp up their personal skills and knowledge, but without having to change employers, which in former times many of us had to do in order to advance ourselves. Such moves are of course very disruptive for the employers, and involves a significant element of risk for the employee.


The FLP is challenging however, and latterly BVAA have introduced an objective selection process to ensure the candidates have the necessary competence - and importantly attitude – to successfully complete the programme.


Company Knowledge-Transfer Days

The ‘FLP’ as it has become known comprises a series of days set at each one of the candidates’ own premises. There, the host and their colleagues educate their cohort in a particular company specialism, activity or area of excellence in which their company excels. Delegates also receive short lectures on products, business systems, methodologies, LEAN, facility tours, etc., increasing substantially their understanding of the wider valve industry.


Personal Development Days

In addition to the dozen or so ‘company hosted days,’ BVAA provides the group with a series of Personal Development (PD) courses to help ‘round’ the individuals. The breadth and depth of this element has been substantially increased year-on-year, such was the positive feedback. This now includes TQ Psychometric testing and Attributes Wheel assessments, helping generate a composite team profile – particularly important as the group works so closely together.


Guest lecturer and Personal Development Consultant, Dr Martin Haigh MBE commented, “It has been an absolute pleasure and privilege creating and delivering the learning and development interventions for the FLP. I have witnessed some amazing breakthroughs from the cohorts and was blown away by their confident and seamless presentations at the BVAA Annual Meetings.’


‘Before we start the PD training for the delegates, I carry out a psychometric test for each one. This gives us a good steer on where to focus our leadership efforts. More importantly, the Team Profile from the psychometric instrument indicates whether all the primary work preferences are covered and if we have a really well-balanced group. So it has been proven because I have seen how well the teams have gelled together and how their complementary strengths are driving strong outcomes. Like the first cohort, the subsequent groups are applying the PD principles in the workplace and making things happen. I always look forward to the sessions and helping to make a difference to these rapidly-developing teams!”


BVAA Networking & Technical Training

Throughout the programme, BVAA has provided opportunities for the cohorts to to expand their personal network of contacts, and delivered free-of-charge Technical Training courses from BVAA’s extensive portfolio. All FLP alumni enjoy a life-long discount thereafter.


Experience Days

Another feature is the ‘experience days’ organised by BVAA at the behest of the cohorts, to suit their learning needs. Cohort 1 for example visited a valve casting facility – witnessing first-hand a valve pour, something many of us had to wait a lifetime to see. Cohorts have also spent toured the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), AMRC Castings, Nuclear AMRC, AMRC Design Centre, The Welding Institute, and the inspiring AMRC ‘Factory 2050.’ We’ve also visited an oil refinery and a nuclear power station, plus a hyperbaric test facility.


Beyond FLP

At the end of their programme, each cohort makes a presentation to the massed ranks of the BVAA membership at the Association’s Annual Meetings. The Cohorts are also encouraged to think beyond the life of the programme. As Bartlett explains, “ ‘You drive, we assist’ is very much part of the philosophy of the FLP. Some of Cohort 1 were very keen to extend their programme to include a Level 3 Mentoring qualification, under the auspices of the ILM. By working with Dr Haigh, this was delivered in spring 2017. I’m delighted to say they qualified and went on to mentor Cohort 2 delegates as part of that course requirement. Mentoring has now become a central pillar of the FLP.”


“We are also encouraging the groups to stay connected – not just through the BVAA committee structure which several have joined and now actively participate in - but also through reunions, additional training and an alumni social networking strand. We’ve also enjoyed rock climbing and hiking across the Yorkshire Moors.”


‘… it is clear we are sowing the seeds of our industry’s continued success with the programme’

Father of the project, and now BVAA Chairman Colin Findlay (Severn Unival) has the last word, “When the BVAA’s small WG comprising myself, Tim Guest and Rob Bartlett got together to kick around our Board’s outline proposals, we had a clear vision that we wanted to not only advance the individuals, but also the industry as a result. I think it is clear we are sowing the seeds of our industry’s continued success with the FLP, but many of the individuals are already enjoying significant personal career advancement – some have been promoted several times since participating, with one even rising to membership of BVAA’s own Board. We have to thank our members for giving up a lot of time and energy to the visits and in rolling out their top guns to support us. It really is what we hoped for and appreciate on these very useful days.”


“From their excellent post-event reports to their CEOs, it is clear that each day has been different, building up their knowledge and offering new ideas into the future leaders that will benefit them and the efficiency of the industry for decades to come.”


Such is the popularity of the BVAA programme, the association already has a waiting list for 2020’s Cohort 5 intake.


If you would like to know more about this initiative, please feel free to contact BVAA’s CEO Rob Bartlett, on Rob@bvaa.org.uk.

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