Case studies, Management, News

Mintel learner story: Leading through the pandemic

16 February 2021 by Heidi Marshall

Lucy Cornford is a Content Manager for Mintel, a leading Market Research company. She shares her inspiring story of applying best practice Leadership and Management skills to lead effectively during challenging times. 

With 15 years of management experience under her belt, the Corndel Level 5 Leadership and Management Diploma has transformed Lucy's approach to leadership and has resulted in her work-based project being adopted by the business. The result is a happier team; and deeply enhanced reporting capability for the business.

Developing a thirst for continuous development of leadership skills 

“I have loved the course,” Lucy explains, “and I didn’t think I would when I started. I’ve attended so many training courses and when I leave the training room, for the most part I forget what I’ve learned. The Corndel Leadership and Management Diploma is different. The practical element really suits me. I am doing it alongside my work and continuously use what I’m learning. I can see the impact right away. I used to lead by instinct; I am now deliberately selecting the right approach for the right leadership moment.”

Leading through the pandemic 

Lucy leads a high-functioning team of four senior Analysts. The pandemic brought an increase in workload as clients urgently sought predictions about the future of their industries. This, coupled with Mintel taking extra steps to ensure clear, unified messaging for clients in an ever-changing landscape, meant her team was working in challenging circumstances. Lucy found herself facing a raft of different leadership challenges, with the wellbeing of her team rising to the top of her priority list.

“Covid-19 has meant my leadership skills have really been put to the test. The course has given me the confidence to deal with each situation with a fresh approach. I now have best practice tools and frameworks at my fingertips, ready to apply.” Lucy gives an example of drawing on the Johari Window, a technique that helps people better understand their relationship with themselves and others, to flip a potentially challenging situation with a team member into a constructive conversation with a positive outcome. “By using evidence-based tools and giving them a name, people understand what you are trying to achieve. It takes the emotion out of the situation and enables you to take a rational approach.”

Work-based project: Driving productivity through a new approach to managing time and resources

Lucy moved from a content-focused team with a highly structured workload, to a new team responsible for a blend of client work and content work. This meant that 50% of her new team’s workload was unstructured and unpredictable. “I could see it was stressful for the team. People were being pulled in different directions, with no clear line of sight around availability and time commitments. I decided to use my work-based project as an opportunity to bring valuable structure to how we allocate and manage projects. Guided by my Corndel coach, Suzie, I decided to try a new Project Management tool. I had the duration of a 14 days free trial to test it, evaluate it and build a business case for investment.

Impressed with the system, I quickly pushed for an opportunity for my team to try the paid version for a month. Through my manager I secured a meeting with the Global President of Research and Insights to present my proposal. In line with what I had been learning, my presentation was deliberately concise, focusing on the benefits and clearly explaining costs. I used language that I knew would resonate and brought in key data to support my business case.

Overcoming initial resistance from team to ‘yet another system’, I drew on my new skills from the course to calmly work through misconceptions and get people engaged with the project.

With the backing of user testimonials, the subscription was extended to my manager’s team of 20, on an ongoing basis until an official contract is signed and wider roll-out adopted. The contract is currently out to tender and it is hoped that between 250 and 400 colleagues globally in the Research teams will benefit. “I’m delighted that the company has recognised the benefits of using such a system and is willing to financially support rolling it out globally.”

Making an impact

The impact for the business is an enriched pool of data, providing evidence of how the team is spending time and enabling data-driven decision making. The impact on the team is that prevalent stress triggers are addressed, bringing more structure, individual control over workload and a reduction in unnecessary communications.”

Lucy concludes, “When done properly, leadership is such an important skill. I feel energised and empowered to use what I’ve learned to shape not only the culture of the teams I lead, but to do what I can to help shape the culture of the organisation.”

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