Rob Field L&D Manager, Colt Technology describes the Executive Education experience at Hult Business School as “A seamlessly integrated learning solution that uses best practice in design and user experience including interactive and engaging content, with information in one place”

What were the challenges Colt Technology faced before the implementation of Virtual Ashridge?

As a business Colt needs to grow and in order to do so, needs to change. For this to be successful it requires change ready managers and leaders with the skills, knowledge and support to achieve this and engage its teams in the process. Historically, Colt’s approach to management and leadership development was inconsistent, working independently within various business units with no overarching strategy. Managers and employees were confused about how to get support. The Colt employee survey highlighted that employees felt opportunities to learn and develop could be improved. 

What were the business objectives for “Colt”? 

The specific business objectives for Colt are to drive profitable growth, build employee engagement and increase their ability to attract, retain and develop talented people. Colt needed to embed its values, mind sets and behaviours to ensure that it can lead effectively. Colt required ‘one way’ to do things and to seek to make it easier to share knowledge, access content and find people who can help. 

How Colt chooses to lead, will enable the achievement of being the most customer oriented business in the Telecommunications and Managed Services industry. What were the key learning objectives? 

• Improve capability of managers and leaders
 • Retention of key talent and improved ability to develop people 
• Design and build an online Academy and provide relevant, good quality content to users
 • Develop a brand aligned to Colt to ensure strong recognition 
• Seamless integration of external and internal content as well as classroom events and programmes • Improve employee perception of learning quality and ease of access
 • Available to all employees in order to be inclusive and allow personal ownership for development


The active involvement of Colt’s Executive Committee in shaping and agreeing the mind sets and behaviours has allowed easy alignment to the Colt Values and link to business strategy. Involving other employee groups enabled Colt to use language that resonates with employees at all levels. It has allowed Colt to ensure that training spend is much less fragmented as there is now a common solution. By partnering externally, Colt has been able to create a portal that uses up to date best practice in design and user experience including interactive and engaging downloads and click throughs, with all information in one place. Colt’s management and leadership programmes now have clear pre and post programme content that is easily accessible to support development. Colt has included 5,500 users across all geographies and levels of the organization. The integration and seamless movement between internal and external was the largest challenge. Virtual Ashridge has been designed to sit alongside the internal Colt Academy making this unique and innovative. The branding, integrated links and structure allow users of the Academy to move between the two sites without the need to sign in or add user details. The research was drawn from a Colt employee survey and a 360 feedback process based on values and behaviours. All senior leaders at Colt completed this along with over 550 managers receiving feedback during 2014 and 2015. Colt involved the leadership team along with several employee groups to help them translate the results and agree on the mind sets and behaviours that would support the values and ensure that it resonated across the business. Qualitative sessions were undertaken with Colt’s Executive Committee to test and align this to the business strategy, which provided critical input and feedback. This was then a top-down process cascaded throughout the business starting with Colt’s most senior executives. The data indicated that more focus was required for retention and development. The anecdotal evidence demonstrated that learning material was difficult to find and use and that learning was not aligned with values and mind sets.

Speed of deployment 

The timeline was extremely short with the concept to launch is under 6 months. The work involved focused L&D on aligning resources, programmes and support to meet the business imperatives and support ongoing change within Colt. Following the launch of Virtual Ashridge in late January 2015, the usage data already indicated a successful adoption. From kick off until June 1st, 9424 resources had been viewed in 1977 visits to Virtual Ashridge, accounting for 2792 learning hours. These figures are in addition to classroom courses, management and leadership programmes and Colt’s regularly scheduled webcasts.

What is next for Colt? 

Colt is continuing to measure the usage and effectiveness of this initiative with initial findings being extremely positive and encouraging. Colt has enabled access to 100% of employees globally and the perception score for “sufficient opportunities for me to learn and improve my skills” has significantly increased. Colt has focused L&D spend on the priorities (sales and leadership) and overall decreased spend versus 2014 by 20% (January - June), whilst increasing learning time overall. A strong structure exists within the Colt Academy and Virtual Ashridge, which can now be further developed.