Throughout his 25-year career, community development – specifically, working with people – has been a recurrent theme for Mike. Early on, he spent time teaching and doing voluntary service overseas in Africa. He first saw the futility of well-meaning top-down development programmes when the Overseas Development Agency wanted him to teach chemistry to the children of sub-Saharan farmers. English and oral rehydration were what they actually needed.
An introduction to entrepreneurship
Mike first became involved with the business support sector when he developed a functional map and a set of standards for Barnsley and Doncaster TEC. This became the organisational framework for Barnsley and Doncaster Business Links. The work was picked up by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The next step was for Mike to undertake a national tour presenting the work, and later developing a set of National Occupational Standards for Business Links. As Government policy developed, these were expanded to include the functions of the TECs, Chambers of Commerce and Enterprise Agencies.
Mike has plenty of commercial experience working in small businesses, serving as a Director of one for several years. In May 2003, he set up his own company, Realise Development, as a vehicle to pursue his own interests. From the very start the DTI remained a key client. Mike worked as Head of Leadership for BLU, a corporate university established for business support in the UK.
Working at the heart of business support
In 2004 Mike took over as Director of BLU. He was responsible for leading a team of civil servants to administer a £2m annual budget. In the two years he led BLU, the team significantly reduced running costs. They increased the take up of services. And they introduced a number of new products and services. The civil servants also won a Top Team prize in the DTI.
While working for BLU, Mike had the opportunity to meet and work with Ernesto Sirolli from the Sirolli Institute. Mike worked with Ernesto and the other Directors of the Institute for two years and was closely involved with the development of projects in Kintyre, Dundee, Perthshire, Bradford and Tynedale. Mike alsohad the opportunity to visit a number of projects in North America. Mike left the Institute in January 2008.
Mike has helped to deliver elements of the Enterprise Island Challenge in Blackpool, Wansbeck and Leeds.
Realise Development – Aspire – Believe – Achieve
Mike has run his own consultancy, Realise Development since May 2003. It provides a range of Learning and Organisation Development services intended to help managers and leaders to imagine a better future and then act on their imaginations!
Progressive Managers Network – Managing People with Passion
Mike set up the Progressive Managers’ Network in May 2007 to provide ‘better management development’ for less. Looking at management from a distinctly positive view of human nature and potential PMN provides managers with practical tools to help people to excel in their work.