Belfast-based HR and organisational development company Think People Consulting have scooped a prestigious award for their trailblazing training programme for the Irish Civil Service. 

Created by the Think People founders Anne Dougan and Emer Hinphey, the unique course, delivered to 803 graduates over the past four years, has just been awarded the prestigious Best Graduate Development Initiative Award from the Irish Institute of Training and Development (IITD).

The IITD National Training Awards promote excellence, best practice and innovation in Learning and Development.

This programme impressed the judges with its innovation and relevance and the results of the initiative for both the organisation and the participants.

“What made this programme so successful was the truly collaborative relationships between the Civil Service Department of Public Expenditure & Reform and Think People," said Paul Rothwell of the Civil Service HR Division. "Think People’s team embedded themselves in our team and worked to understand our complex organisation and culture, as well as our ways of working so that every detail of the programme was powerfully contextualised to real challenges and opportunities we’re facing now.” .

Mr. Rothwell added: “The emphasis on applied learning and action means we have clearly seen the direct impact of the programme on confidence, collaboration, productivity and innovation amongst the delegates who took part. This is where Learning and Development needs to be – integrated with organisational strategy and the day-to-day work-lives of delegates beyond the training room.”

The Think People team curated and custom-made a range of modern tools for the Civil Service unique culture and ways of working, including hackathons, Action Learning Sets, agile pace projects , self-reflective exercises, psychometric tools, discussion groups, lectures, case studies, and exposure to 133 subject matter experts representing 35 government departments and the working of specialist areas of the Civil Service.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck during the final year of the programme, Think People transferred the in-depth programme to fully online delivery.

“We’re extremely proud of what we have achieved in creating a programme for a very diverse audience through working in a truly collaborative way with the team in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform,” said Think People Managing Partner, Emer Hinphey, “We strive to be at the forefront of thought-leadership and innovation in Learning and Development and are deeply indebted to programme director Louise Gault and the whole think People delivery team for this success.

“Winning this award with a programme which started as face-to-face and ended as a highly successful, fully remote programme, shows that learning and development functions have a lot to add to the strategies organisations are putting in place to manage the relentless change we are continuing to face."