The Risk Management Services (RMS) team at NFU Mutual is the largest Risk Management Consultancy in the UK. Our colleagues in Health and Safety share their thoughts on the support and development they’ve been given and how it’s helped their career paths.

This support and development can come through a structured personal development plan, support from senior management or just being able to pick up the phone to a colleague for advice.

The Personal Development Programme
There are a number of development courses available to colleagues within NFU Mutual right across the business. But a personal development plan (PDP) needs to be just that, personal - and tailored to meet the individual needs of each person.

Tim Fowkes explains what’s involved in the PDP process and how this has worked for him. “I have a PDP which I’ve put together myself. I started by picking courses that I felt would be relevant. Working with my manager, we decided which courses or training would be applicable to the services we provide as a team.

As part of my PDP I've been on a number of on-site shadow visits with my colleagues to learn from them. There's also a lot of e-learning courses, which we access via the NFU Mutual iAchieve online portal. We’re regularly set activities or modules to do via the portal. Some of these can be long term, so obviously that's something you work towards. For example, I’m doing a fire risk assessment course later this year, which has been supported and paid for by the company, which is great. The course will enable me to tailor other services to offer clients as a consultant.”

James Tibbetts joined NFU Mutual with previous experience but without the qualification he needed. “I came with a wealth of experience from running agricultural businesses. I didn't have a health and safety qualification or background, but that was something NFU Mutual were very happy to support me to achieve. In my opinion you can't teach experience, but you can teach qualifications and the background of the legal side of health and safety. What I’ve gained here has been invaluable in my development.”

Support from senior management
Being regionally based and often on-site with clients, many of the team are very self-sufficient in their field, but this doesn’t mean they don’t recognise when they need support. Yorkshire based Andrew Scargill explains how being able to get the support he needs, when he needs it works for him. “I’m a qualified health and safety practitioner with 25 years’ experience and I enjoy working autonomously. For me it’s not so much about development but my management is here if I need a reality check on a decision I am about to make. Everyone is very accessible, right up to the MD, I’ve actually got more resource than I need! I can go to my line manager and say, I'm thinking of doing this, what do you think? And nine times out of 10, they would tell me to go ahead.”

James Tibbetts also recognises the freedom he has to run his role the way that works best for him, but, like Andrew, the support is there. “If you want to, you can be more of a lone ranger as you’re responsible for managing your own time. There are deliverables that we have to meet but we’re supported all the way through. With the tech we have and being able to share files and online training, it has been absolutely brilliant.”

There’s a wealth of knowledge to learn from
The Health and Safety team within RMS are some 80 strong so there’s a lot of knowledge to share. Tim Fowkes is based in the South and explains how he draws on the wider experience of the team. “My colleagues in the team have been fantastic, because I’m able to pull on their knowledge and join them on site visits. The experienced consultants within the team have been a great support, both professionally and developmentally. The support and knowledge I’ve received means there are even more development routes opening up for me. I can tailor how my knowledge is developed, and that's all recorded and supported accordingly.”

James Tibbetts is also able to draw on the experience and support within his team. “The people are always at the end of the phone. There's a wealth of knowledge. Some people haven't got the farming background that I've got, and they'll call on my knowledge base. Other times, I haven't got the health and safety knowledge that some of my colleagues have got, and I'll call on their expertise. We also have a thorough induction program as part of our development, where we get to see the many different ways our colleagues work and how they tackle problems.

We can then draw on our colleague’s experience and the solutions they’ve used with their clients. I completely respect, and often use, the approach of other consultants. These are sometimes approaches that I wouldn't naturally use, but I'm confident to use them because I've seen them in operation elsewhere.”

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