Mike Birkett, Calico

We recently did some work with Calico, and Mike Birkett, the Chief Executive kindly gave us an account of how we did.

Mike Birkett

I have known Val for over 10 years and was very fortunate to be able to use her first rate skills and experience as a member of my Executive Team until 2010.

Val’s presence and leadership at Calico led to numerous successes – one of the most notable being the achievement of the accolade of becoming a Top 100 ‘Best Companies to work for ‘in 2009.

At an Executive level, Val made a huge contribution to our strategic direction, organisational development and business planning. She also provided sound superb guidance, advice and support during complex and challenging times – the foundation and levelheadedness that every Chief Executive needs.

As a leader of people and teams she is able to motivate, challenge, support and guide individuals so that they work together and achieve excellent results.  Val’s excellent interpersonal skills means that she can communicate with people at all levels and is therefore at home building relationships with the Board and front line staff and has great rapport with customers.  People listen to Val and she can deliver the most difficult and challenging of messages in a way that supports them and empathises with their position.

With such a wide range of abilities we knew she would be sorely missed for her professional expertise and as a valued colleague.

Here are just a few examples of the difference Val made here:

  • Turned a struggling organisation (rated as ‘poor prospects for improvement’) into Top 100 company
  • Led culture change which resulted in staff feeling engaged, motivated and ultimately high performing – by making it a great place to work
  • Put in place systems that supported the drive for excellence and performance improvement – so that employees want to contribute and make services better for customers
  • Made sure that Equality and Diversity mattered and laid the foundations to enable us to achieve ‘Leaders in Diversity’ status
  • Tackled a range of very difficult and complex employment issues and yet was always able to provide a solution that supported the business and preserved its values
  • Provided the vision and leadership for our new social enterprise to ensure a successful turnover of £3million in its first 2 years.

As a result of these achievements and Val’s qualities, I have been keen to commission her to support the organisation in a consultancy role since leaving Calico.

As HR Business Partner she helped to make sure that we maintained our Supporting People contracts for the future, safeguarding both jobs and a quality service for customers.

More recently Val has played a key role in designing and delivering our strategic board sessions.  She has great facilitation skills and uses her creativity to deliver innovative activities that captures people’s interest and keeps them engaged, whilst deploying a real business focus.

Val has the innate ability to understand a brief, interpret what is required and deliver an intervention that exactly meets your requirements and the outcomes you desire.  Val doesn’t provide an off the shelf approach – it will be bespoke and full of new ideas, tailored to the audience who will learn and laugh at the same time.

I cannot praise Val too highly – her professional approach, consistent delivery and interpersonal skills are second to none.  I would recommend her to any Chief Executive who is looking for help to resolve complex issues, is in need of executive team support, or simply wants to develop and grow their organisation.Mike Birkett
CE of Calico