Our people

Our people

Staff at the Cambridge assessment triangle building opening ceremony

A global culture of learning

At Cambridge Assessment our strong sense of pride in what we do is a huge benefit, and our work in helping millions of learners fulfil their potential truly motivates our people to go above and beyond. This year we have spent a lot of time talking to colleagues to understand how they feel about working here and as a result, we’re now working on initiatives designed to help shape the Cambridge Assessment of the future as an inspiring place to work and an organisation that people want to join.

Some things remained constant, such as our commitment to building a global culture of learning amongst our people. This year saw our Talent Development team named as one of the UK’s Top 15 Learning Departments in the Learning Performance Institute’s accreditation. Our Aspiring Managers programme welcomed another 12 colleagues, alongside 15 on our Leap management apprenticeship programme, and 39 on our Inspiring Leaders course. 

Twenty-one new coaches were trained in ILM (Institute of Leadership and Management) Level 5 and Level 7 qualifications, building on the success of our Coaching and Mentoring Academy. We are also upskilling our colleagues through apprenticeship Executive MBAs (Masterships) and apprenticeships in Project Management and Hospitality.

Flexible working is very important to us, and we are launching a new approach based on trust and on empowering our people. 

As part of our wider goal to recognise potential and equip people with sought-after employment skills and qualifications, we collaborated with Cambridge University Press to launch a range of new Data Science Apprenticeship Programmes from Level 4 to Level 7.

Thirty Cambridge Assessment employees joined colleagues from the Press in the first cohorts in autumn 2019, including eight new specially recruited Assistant Data Scientists who will combine workplace learning at Cambridge Assessment with study towards a BSc (Hons) Data Science degree with Anglia Ruskin University.

Employee wellbeing and recognition

Flexible working is very important to us, and this year we have partnered with UK charity Working Families to help us understand how to improve our flexible working offering. As a result, we are about to launch a new approach based on trust and on empowering our people to have a greater choice about how and when they work.

This year we also reviewed our EPD (Employee Performance and Development) process in order to become more agile and responsive to the needs of our customers and learners. Following extensive consultation, our new framework is based on continuous conversations and goal-setting, with a greater emphasis on the behaviours and ways of working that help our people to make the right choices and set the right goals.

It remains vital that our organisation reflects the diversity of our learners. Our staff networks continue to go from strength to strength, providing a sense of inclusion for our people and championing a range of inspiring and thought-provoking events. In March 2019, we launched a new Disability and Neurodiversity network, joined the UK’s Business Disability Forum, and committed to the UK government’s Disability Confident scheme.

One of our colleagues has won a Women in International Education ‘Unsung Hero’ award. These awards are organised by Lead5050 and the Global Leadership League to celebrate the amazing work that women and men are doing in our industry in the name of gender equality.

The award was given in recognition for their work in developing our diversity and inclusion initiative at Cambridge Assessment and establishing the Women in Leadership staff network, in addition to their day job. The network was founded in December 2016, and is open to anybody who works at Cambridge Assessment (both men and women) who are interested in supporting and inspiring women to pursue their ambitions and achieve their goals.

As part of our commitment to the health, safety and wellbeing of our people, we continue to invest in our Healthy Mind Ambassadors, with 28 colleagues receiving Mental Health First Aid Training this year, while our Health and Safety Committees also received consultation and participation training. Our Healthy Mind network continues to grow in numbers, and Wellbeing Champions have also been introduced at our Coventry office to support ‘Healthy You’, our employee wellbeing programme.

New leadership and location

Our Leadership team has also undergone important changes this year, as we welcomed three new Chief Executives to the organisation. Jill Duffy joined OCR as its new Chief Executive in November 2018. Jill formerly led the UK schools business at education company Pearson, where she was responsible for 450 staff. Prior to joining Pearson, Jill spent 22 years working at education publishers such as Hodder & Stoughton and Oxford University Press.

In January 2019, Christine Özden became the new Chief Executive of Cambridge Assessment International Education, taking over from Michael O’Sullivan. Christine joined from Oxford International AQA Examinations where she was Managing Director, and has a wealth of experience gained in companies including Pearson, Apollo English and Oxford University Press.

In March 2019, Cambridge English welcomed Francesca Woodward as its new Chief Executive, taking over from interim CEO Christine Nuttall. For the last two years Francesca has been Director of Cambridge English’s Global Network, leading a large team across multiple offices worldwide and working closely with Cambridge University Press.

And then in April 2019 our interim Director of HR Janet Scotcher was appointed as permanent Director of HR and Transformation. Janet was previously Director of HR at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and has a wealth of experience in organisational development in both the research industry, and healthcare.

One of last year’s highlights was our successful relocation from 11 separate offices into Triangle, our new purpose-built global headquarters. In June, one year on from the building’s completion date, we held our official opening ceremony. Staff were joined by guests of honour – learners from six countries – to help us mark this special occasion. Cambridge Assessment Chief Executive Saul Nassé spoke of his pride in Triangle, and paid tribute to the visiting learners who, he said, were an inspiration to everyone in the organisation.

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