Impact imminent

Impact 2015 – the industry’s inaugural, and only independent management and leadership scholarship programme – is in its final stages of completion with submission of final assignments and portfolios underway. Here, we take a look at what the Impact 2015 journey has entailed and what the future now holds for the pioneering 10 scholars.

Impact 2015 – the industry’s inaugural, and only independent management and leadership scholarship programme – was the brainchild of bodyshop magazine and Owen Stafford, then managing director of distributor iris prior to its acquisition by LKQ Coatings, and now CTS Manager UK & Ireland, Automotive Refinish – BASF plc. The concept has been backed 100% by AkzoNobel, bodyshop magazine, Fix Auto, LKQ Coatings and Mirka with each company ‘sponsoring’ two scholars through the process.

Some two and a half years on, and with the majority of the cohort having completed all modules required, they can now proudly lay claim to having achieved a postgraduate level seven diploma in strategic management and leadership, essentially two thirds of a Master of Business Administration (MBA). The opportunity now lies for those who wish to progress to an extra 18 months minimum of study to achieve a master of business administration (MBA) in strategic management and leadership – an opportunity several of the delegates are keen to pursue.

Those who have not completed the entire journey, have achieved a level where they will walk away with a postgraduate certificate in business management and leadership.

Variety

‘Officially’ getting underway in April 2013 with the first Impact 2015 delivery day, the Impact scholars have tackled a variety of modules including: professional development for strategic managers; developing strategic management and leadership skills; strategic human resource management; strategic marketing management; managing financial principles and techniques; strategic change management; managing corporate responsibility in the wider business environment; strategic supply chain management and logistics; research methods for strategic managers and, finally, a 10,000 plus word submission on project development and implementation for strategic managers.

Impact 2015 cohort tutor and driving force behind the achievement of the scholars has been Dr Linda Lee-Davies – PhD, MBA, SFHEA – consultant CEO London Academy Business School. Linda said, ‘The hardworking candidates on Impact 2015 are so very nearly there and I am so proud to see them producing the last assignments for their senior portfolio. It has not been easy, these things never are, as the academic work has had to be juggled with busy work and family lives. I have been very impressed by the perseverance through change, personal life events and increasing work pressures and by the positive way in which they have stuck together to support each other through.’

Testing

Although now within touching distance of the finish line and the associated ‘feel good’ factor that goes with that, any one of the Impact 2015 scholars will vouch for the fact the journey has certainly been ‘testing’ at times. Dom Napier, commercial director of Elevation Group and Impact 2015 scholar said, ‘George Bernard Shaw’s quote ‘Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything!’ first ignited my learning journey which has culminated, to date, in my participation in IMPACT 2015. I can’t say it has been an easy experience, as level seven academia demands an almost alien form of dialogue, grammar and writing. Many late nights, early mornings and personal time sacrifices to ensure delivery of the assignments, led to me sometimes question the validity of my participation. But I am so glad that I persisted and listened to my fellow cohorts as the practical application of the theory has been transformational.’

Another of the Impact 2015 cohort, Nick Westmoncott-Grint, senior estimator, Fix Auto Bristol West claims the whole experience has been a ‘revelation’. ‘Impact 2015 has not only expanded my own knowledge and made me think in greater and more critical detail about what happens in the business here, but it has even influenced how I view businesses I deal with on a day-to-day basis. Each module has given me insight into business areas I would not normally encounter in my work, and pushed me into new ways of approaching and solving problems.’

Development

The Edexcel level seven diploma provides a focused learning, with a strong emphasis on practical skills development alongside the acquisition of requisite knowledge and understanding of the business sector. Linda explained, ‘In personal development terms these participants have used their existing leadership and management expertise and turned it into an academic currency which recognises the senior level in which they operate. Individually they gain a high level award.’

She continued, ‘In addition to this they, as founding members of such study in the motor trade, have become a powerful senior force in terms of influencing change in the field and now have the universal qualifications to underpin their extensive experience – a powerful combination.’

Nick added, ‘I feel really privileged to have been part of Impact 2015, and happily tell everyone what a great opportunity to learn it has been for me. My Lecturers have all been superb, in particular Dr Linda Lee-Evans who is a fantastic motivator and gave me the confidence to really push myself on this learning journey.’ It is a sentiment echoed by the entire Impact 2015 cohort.

Next?

With the final few ‘tidy-up’ operations nearing completion, next on the agenda for the Impact 2015 cohort is a final get together in order to present final assignment findings to one another and undertake a more formal debrief on the entire programme. It will then be a case of deciding who, from the current cohort, is onboard to go the extra step and pursue further study in order to achieve an MBA.

‘Whichever way you look at it, Impact 2015 has been a major achievement for all concerned. The individuals involved have achieved new levels of skill and understanding; those who backed the programme have helped pioneer a new level of engagement within the sector, and the industry, as a whole, can now see what is achievable,’ said Mark.

Dom explained, ‘Participating in IMPACT 2015 has re-ignited a passion that so many in this industry have lost and I now embrace change as an opportunity to explore, manifest and most importantly grow positively. I would plead with everyone, without exception, to at least consider the incredible possibilities and value that non transactional activities could bring to you, your businesses and most importantly your employees, as undoubtedly they are the future of our industry.

And, to finish, it is only fair the Impact 2015 cohort leader, Linda, has the final say; ‘This cohort have been an absolute pleasure to work with and I have seen first-hand the level of senior leadership talent hidden within the motor trade. What a fine example to others leading the way forward.’

Over the coming months, we will be catching up with the Impact 2015 individuals to trace their individual journeys as well as revealing some of their academic studies to date.