What are the main responsibilities of your role?
Walker: I’m responsible for training the teams that work in our sales departments. My diary consists of classroom-based group training, dealership coaching interventions and time designing and creating new training. The new training aligns with the strategic vision set out by Sylvia Daniels, head of HR, and Scott Smith head of recruitment. These colleagues work alongside our board, which recently decided to focus on recruiting great people from outside the industry. By bringing these recruits into our sales departments and training them from scratch, our vision is to mould them in the Swansway culture of ‘caring, honest and proud’. I’m proud to be part of this initiative and the trust the Swans-way team have in me to deliver.
What are the most significant challenges ahead in your field of work?
Walker: I think that in the coming decade our industry will continue to evolve allied to rapid advancement in technology and production. We face significant change in the way cars are powered to the way people buy and own cars; it is tempting to get carried away with this and forget the vast majority of customers still want great service from real people in welcoming dealerships. My role is to balance training people already successful in our business, enabling them to move forward within our industry, while showing the next generation of sales executives how to be successful in the current market.
How might these challenges be overcome?
Walker: I’m fortunate to work for a group that already has fantastic people working in key positions. We are not constrained by shareholders or multi-levels of management; if someone has an idea to move the business forward, they can take it to the directors. Innovation is given due consideration, enabling everyone in the company to have meaningful input. I’ve been truly amazed at how agile and receptive my colleagues have been. As an example, the Sales Executive Academy project has had its first intake of trainees recruited and inducted, followed by their initial training and dealership placement, within weeks. The academy trainees are now immersed within their six-month programme, learning from our dealership management teams. In my previous experience, these projects have taken much longer to achieve from inception to completion. Swansway works hard to make meaningful change and improvement happen, for the benefit of its staff and the business.
What attracted you to this area of expertise?
Walker: When I was in dealer management, I always enjoyed training people and found this the most satisfying part of my role. About eight years ago, I was employed to work for Volkswagen Group as its sales improvement coach. From there I moved across the different brands working on people and dealer development projects. Most recently I developed the used car offering at Audi UK. Earlier this year the opportunity came along to launch the Swansway Academy and it just jumped out at me as soon as I saw it. It’s a really ambitious project and it’s been the perfect career move for me; I’m enjoying every minute of it.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your career, and how have you made use of it?
Walker: Don’t try to attack all of your goals at once, project management and delivery requires patience and a methodical approach. Take it on in sections and build.
What drives you?
I thrive on being relied upon to deliver.
What’s your favourite app?
How do you relax?
Box sets, dog walking and failing to grow things in my garden.