· 2 min read · News

BSI: Vital statistics

Number of employees: 5,000

Turnover: 237 million

Group personnel director: David Gillies

You know when youve been ISO-ed. But even if complying with that most famous of quality standards sometimes provokes a degree of frustration, it is thanks to BSI the British Standards Institution that the kitemark of quality is still as well regarded as it is.

BSI was founded in 1901 as a national standards body. Today it is much more, operating in over 100 countries. And since establishing professional standards is what the organisation is all about, naturally HR is under pressure to help deliver professionalism internally as well.

Developing future international leaders

We are developing managers for the future on an international basis, says group personnel director David Gillies. Nearly 60% of our people are based outside the UK, but we have to have consistency of performance throughout.

BSI has been working with Henley Management College to support existing managers who are moving into more senior positions, and also to provide development for potential future leaders. We have worked very closely with Henley to tailor its courses to fit our needs, Gillies says. There has been a mixture of general management development as well as specific work on key disciplines, like cash management, which is required in each national BSI operation.

Getting managers from around the world to train together helps reinforce the international identity of BSI, he believes. The firm is selling its services in areas as varied as product testing, commodity inspection, environmental management, information security and provision of technical advice to exporters. All these services are available in markets as varied as Hong Kong, Spain, Russia and the US, and HR has to support this work by ensuring a consistent approach is being followed around the world.

On reward, for example, we would usually aim to be between the median and upper quartile in whichever market we are operating, Gillies says. Of course that doesnt mean that pay rates are the same everywhere, just that we are positioned in a similar way internationally.

Graduate trainees get an early taste of responsibility

The pressure to win and retain business internationally means that BSI managers have to raise their game, and that starts at graduate recruitment level. Graduates enjoy a two-year training programme, involving six separate assignments, several of which will be abroad. The key to our graduate training is to offer real responsibility, Gillies explains. They dont just stand there watching others doing the job, they get on with it themselves. After the two years training, BSI is retaining around 75% of young managers, a healthy score when benchmarked across businesses in the past few years.

Involvement among managers is also high, in helping HR in its task of

co-ordinating development and performance. An elected staff consultative committee helps promote two-way communication and an understanding of where the business is heading. Weve just been away on a two-day programme to discuss the committee, says Gillies. It is all part of the effort to build up a strong position for ourselves as we go forward. But then BSI, perhaps more than any other organisation, cannot afford to let standards slip.