Hay Group co-develops leadership programme Principal Matters

03 May 2016 Consultancy.uk

To meet the growing demand for Principals to run Singapore’s pre-schools, younger and younger teachers are promoted to head up schools. To improve the performance of young head teachers the Lien Foundation recently launched a programme, called Principal Matters, which is targeted at supporting around 10% of Singapore’s head pre-school teachers with their tasks. One of the partners to the new programme is Korn Ferry Hay Group.

The number of pre-school educational institutions in Singapore has increased by almost a half over the past decades, resulting in an increased demand for teachers. A lack of interest in the profession, high turnover rates of teachers, and a rapidly growing and ageing population in Singapore, means too few teachers are available to meet demand, resulting in a manpower shortage in the pre-school sector. The consequences is not merely the entry level roles cannot be filled fast enough, but also that higher level positions, such as that of Principal, are going to younger and younger teachers. 

For one group of schools, the NTUC First Campus, estimates show that the median age for Principals has fallen from 40s ten to fifteen years ago, to 30s today. Teachers are rising up much faster, and, with the required qualifications in hand, a teacher can be promoted to Principals with just two years of teaching experience. Such a short step to being a Principal may mean that they have less life experience but still need to supervise teachers and keep up with various changes in the sector. The additional task of running the school as a business adds additional challenges.

To improve the acumen of incoming Principals, the Lien Foundation, a Singapore-based philanthropic organisation, recently launched a new programme to improve the effectiveness of pre-school principals: ‘Principal Matters’. The programme aims to improve the heads of schools, which is correlated with improved performances for the school as a whole. The programme is supported by four key partners: Korn Ferry Hay Group (formerly Hay Group*); Wheelock College, a top pre-school training institute in the US; NTUC's Seed Institute, the largest pre-school training provider in Singapore; and SIM University.

The programme leverages a new model of behavioural skills, to, among others, provide Principals with a means of better navigating the often trying emotional conditions associated with the position. The model was developed from interviews with 50 leaders comprising ECDA Fellows, business owners, HR experts, and veteran principals from across private, non-profit and anchor operators – and out of the field work the researchers identified the most important leadership traits of preschool Principals.

The programme itself will be freely available to around 150 selected head teachers, close to a tenth of all pre-school Principals in Singapore. The programme involves mentorship from pre-school Principal veterans, a number of workshops, as well as a 12 day trip to Wheelock College, Boston, US, in order to learn from foreign best practices. The programme costs a total of $2.7 million.

Lee Poh Wah, Chief Executive of Lien Foundation, says: "In a few short years, teachers go from managing a class to having to manage a business – from supervising and retaining teachers to engaging increasingly well-educated parents who are often older than them.” With the programme, she adds, the Lien Foundation is convinced the organisation can support teachers in Singapore with their transition.

* In September last year recruitment firm Korn Ferry acquired HR consultancy Hay Group for $452 million.

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How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.