In the latest instalment of AM's '8 Questions to...' feature series Lookers head of learning and development Danny Bishop discusses the challenges and rewards of helping to build the car retail PLC's perfect workforce.
What are the main responsibilities of your role?
I joined Lookers in September 2021 to lead the group Learning and Development team to create and deliver a compelling learning strategy to support our growing business needs and deliver strategic priorities. For us, it’s vital that we continue to create a great place to work by fostering a learning culture and environment which provides our people the opportunities to enhance their professional and personal growth and their potential. We want to make sure we have the right people with the right talent, skills and capabilities in roles where they can thrive both now and long into the future. It’s an exciting time to be at Lookers under the leadership of our chief people officer, Chris Whitaker, and we’re delighted to be building and progressing our learning programmes and initiatives for colleagues at all stages of their career, and particularly for newer generations, focusing on apprenticeships, early careers, in technology and in technical areas. We’re also creating a new learning academy and we’re thrilled to have just launched our largest apprenticeship programme yet, which has been designed to develop and nurture the careers of more than 200 young people. At Lookers, our people are our top priority and it’s our major focus as part of our continued transformation.
What are the most significant challenges ahead?
The speed of change in the motoring industry is creating challenges but also many opportunities. A digital revolution is firmly under way and more people are now better equipped to use and access information and technical resources at the touch of a button and to attend webinars and classes remotely. There’s now significantly more interest and much more demand for developing tech based learning resources than before, so ensuring this continually meets the needs of our people requires attention and focus so we can always ensure that content is relevant, engaging and resonates for continual professional development and improvement.
How might these challenges be overcome?
Staying up to date with learning and development best practices and to the fast-evolving learning technology is key, which is as equally important to being in tune with learning needs and areas that need ongoing improvement. With a strong, expanded team, priority focus and investment, we’re making great inroads in this area, and we’re delighted with our achievements to date. We regularly engage with external networks, partners and attend events to ensure our learning proposition and programmes are the best in the industry.
What attracted you to this area of expertise?
I love people, listening to and improving the quality of people’s work and lives through learning. I got my first taste of developing people by coaching and mentoring starters at Co-op call centres. This positive experience helped me to progress quickly into people management. I then moved into L&D and have loved it ever since.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned and how have you made use of it at your company?
One of the most useful leadership development programmes which has always stuck with me is Stephen Covey’s circle of concern and circle of influence. It really helps focus your mind and thoughts on what you have direct control over and what you don’t. It’s helpful when coaching and supporting others to navigate issues. This and many other models will feature in our academy learning programmes.
What drives you?
Positive engagement, feedback and knowing I’m making an impact to help people grow and develop their skills, talent and capabilities motivates me every day.
What’s your favourite app?
LinkedIn is a helpful way to keep up with developments in the industry and for sharing pertinent information and insights while also being a good and cost-effective way to network. I follow the regular news and current affairs apps, and, for downtime, I recently got into the wordle craze which seems to have gone viral.
How do you relax?
Daisy Nook Country Park in Tameside is just 10 minutes from our house, so I get to enjoy lovely walks. I also love a good Netflix binge-watch.