A new partnership between Cranfield University and the UK's leading holiday park operator aims to develop the leisure sector's talent of the future.

Cranfield Executive Development is working with Parkdean Resorts to enhance its leadership and development offering to employees, enabling it to attract and grow talent at all levels across the business.

The company has selected seven senior managers that bosses believe have the potential to become the next leaders of the business. The chosen cohort will undertake a bespoke two-year programme to grow and develop their skills, including leadership and management coaching with Cranfield Executive Development.

If the pilot is successful, the programme will then be rolled out across the business, providing access to high-quality training and development for high-potential employees at all levels.

Ian Byrne, Head of People – Talent, at Parkdean Resorts, said: "People can tend to view jobs with companies like ours as seasonal roles, rather than as a potential career, and we really want to change that. Holiday parks aren't just something that happens in the main summer season. We are a real, multi-million-pound business that operates like any other, and we want to grow our own and develop the talent we have within.

"With Cranfield's help, we have now got something in place that will enable people to start working on a holiday park and then end up in 10 years' time as a CFO of the company."

Camilla Jonsson, Portfolio Director at Cranfield Executive Development, said: "We are very pleased to be working so closely with Parkdean Resorts and look forward to great things to come. They are very visionary about what they want to offer their employees, and we seem to have a real match of cultures, which makes the prospect of our collaboration even more exciting. They are ambitious; they want to act now, and I think their vision together with our expertise will result in a really strong offer that they will be able to give to their employees moving forwards."

The current cohort of learners includes one employee who began their career at Parkdean Resorts working as a lifeguard at one of its 67 holiday parks and has since worked their way up to their current role.

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