Global chemical and ingredients distributor Univar Solutions is celebrating the achievements of employees who have recently completed a qualification in leadership and management.

Supported by Seetec Outsource, learners on the RISE Talent programme have either completed the Aspiring Manager or Strategic Manager qualification. The programme is an investment in Univar’s future leaders, and an opportunity for high-performing employees across the business to invest in their own professional development.

The RISE programme first launched in February 2020, and despite the challenges of a global pandemic and multiple lockdowns, the first cohort of learners have now graduated, most with a distinction. This development opportunity has brought many benefits, both to the business and to the individuals involved, and Univar now plans to roll the programme out to colleagues across other EMEA countries.

We interviewed two of Univar’s recent graduates to find out what the programme involved, what some of the highlights and challenges have been, and how they feel it will benefit them in future.

Laura Banks, Customer Service Representative (Food Team), Widnes

Laura, who has been with Univar for four and a half years, recently completed the Aspiring Manager programme. She has always enjoyed helping to train new team members and sharing good practice with others, and was put forward for the course by her manager after explaining that this was an area she wanted to develop further.

Laura said: “I’ve learned a wide variety of skills on this programme, from time management and prioritising workload to influencing and persuading techniques and dealing with conflict.

“I now have a much better understanding of what it means to lead people. I know about different learning styles and can adapt my training to suit different needs. I understand how important it is to make a team member feel valued, and that concentrating on their positive attributes helps them to develop more.

“The tutors have been extremely helpful, and as long as you’re committed to putting the work in you will definitely benefit. It’s an extremely rewarding course.”

Yassine Lamlih, CI Analyst, Bradford

Yassine has been with Univar for four years, and recently completed the Strategic Manager programme. Despite having to juggle multiple large projects – and becoming a dad for the first time – alongside his learning, he managed to secure a distinction.

Yassine explained, “I’m always looking for ways to develop in my career, and the Strategic Manager programme was a great way to prove to myself and the business that I’m ready for the next step.

“For me, the biggest challenge has been my tendency to procrastinate – but with support from an outstanding coach at Seetec Outsource I’ve achieved results that I didn’t think were possible.

“The programme is closely linked to my day-to-day job and has helped me to become much more efficient and effective in my role. I have become familiar with project management tools and developed negotiating skills which have noticeably improved interactions – and outcomes – with colleagues across the business.

“My advice to anyone thinking about applying for this programme is to go for it. It has helped me to grow both personally and professionally and is a fantastic career development opportunity.”

Investing in future leaders

Investing in leadership and management capabilities is central to Univar’s learning and development strategy. By preparing colleagues for current and future leadership responsibilities, and supporting them to fulfil their potential, the organisation is investing in its future success.

Karrina Lowrey, Talent and Organizational Development Manager EMEA, explains: “Here at Univar Solutions we understand that now is the time to invest in our leaders of the future. The success of the RISE programme in the UK means that we’ll be rolling out our Aspiring Manager and Strategic Manager qualifications across the EMEA region, ensuring that high-performing colleagues across the business are able to access this valuable development opportunity.

“Seetec Outsource has delivered a strong programme with individualised support for each of our learners. The deeper knowledge and understanding they’ve gained has noticeably strengthened performance across teams. It has been a pleasure to watch them grow and develop.”

Speaking about Seetec’s leadership development programmes, Nikki Bardsley, Director of Apprenticeships and Skills, added:

“All of our programmes are tailored to the needs of the organisation, and we have worked with Univar to develop a programme of learning that suits their business model and organisational structure.

“Univar’s investment in its people shows them they are valued and gives them an opportunity to progress within the organisation. This supports talent retention and means that Univar has the strong skills base on which future success will depend.”