Pearn Kandola works with NewLight to design and run a Regional Manager Assessment Centre in Nairobi
Based in Nairobi, Kenya, NewLight Africa is a fast growing business that sells products which will change the lives of consumers in rural Africa for the better. These products, using the brand name “heya!”, include solar lights (70%), fuel efficient cook stoves, smart phones and more. NewLight promotes a vision where huge social change and commercial success can work hand in hand. By operating as a commercial enterprise it seeks to reach far greater numbers of people with benefits both to their wellbeing and to the environment.
NewLight currently covers two regions in Kenya but has plans to grow to 20 regions by 2018 and ultimately to spread across Africa. In addition to investment capital, expansion has been supported in the short term by EU funding but future growth is dependent on the successful appointment of new Regional Sales Managers.
In keeping with our corporate social responsibility undertaking, during September and October 2016 Pearn Kandola designed and ran an assessment centre to identify local Kenyan candidates with the skills, motivation and integrity to succeed in the role of Regional Sales Manager for the benefit of NewLight and its customers. Working with a very limited budget, the project was made possible through our ongoing commitment to support charitable work and community projects. A significant proportion of the design time on this project was delivered at no additional cost and our lead consultant, Laura Haycock, gave up her own time while on holiday in Kenya to set up and lead the first two assessment centres.
Commenting on the experience, Laura reported that working with NewLight was a rare privilege. The entrepreneurial energy of the team and the candidates, and their commitment to improve the lives of others was inspiring. The assessment centre approach worked well in the Kenyan context and gave the in-house team confidence in their selection decision. CEO Steve Andrews commented “Laura Haycock seriously delivered for us. She did an outstanding job for NewLight. It was a great process which we will use a lot in the future.”
L-R: Steve Andrews NewLight CEO, Linda Wamune Kenya MD, Doris Achola Regional Manager, Asu Owino Finance Manager.
In spring this year, the decision was made to relocate the business into modern offices on the Langford Business Park in Kidlington, close to Oxford airport. Moving home we are told is a very stressful experience, but thanks to Laura Hollitzer’s meticulous planning and hard work, the move when it came on Friday 19 September went without a hitch.
First impressions of our new home are overwhelmingly positive. Located a few miles north of Oxford, road access is now a lot easier and quicker for most of our staff, while the office is much more spacious and bright. Our working area has been designed around flexible work area with new desks that facilitate working either sitting or standing. We also have a number of meeting rooms for privacy, several fitted with videoconferencing facilities, a large kitchen and a ‘chill out’ area with table tennis to facilitate the social side of life. The challenge is already on to identify the Pearn Kandola table tennis champion – on current form this could well be a battle between Rob Barkworth and Teju Banjo, although Stuart Duff and Binna Kandola have yet to declare their form. Who will be the Champ? We’ll know by Christmas!
PK People update
In October we welcomed two new placement students to our team. Harry Verner and Laura Williams, both psychology undergraduates at Cardiff University will be working with us in Oxford on a variety of research projects until June 2017.
On a sadder note, it is with great sadness that we learnt that Sylvia Downs, a former Pearn Kandola Partner passed away in July this year. She will be greatly missed.
At Pearn Kandola, we understand the importance of investing in people and are keenly committed to helping develop the business psychologists of tomorrow. As a business we are actively involved across a range of initiatives that provide support to psychology students, something that brings real benefits to both sides. Stuart Duff, Partner at Pearn Kandola, says:
“We have always believed that it is absolutely critical to stay in touch with leading edge thinking and the best way to do that is to build relationships with universities who not only invest in research, but also in great people.”
Over the past decade, we have built relationships with a number of universities, including Cardiff, the Institute of Work Psychology (IWP) in Sheffield, Aston and Leeds. As part of our relationship with Cardiff, we take on placement students from their BSc in Psychology course to work with us for a year and conduct research. This year’s student was Josh Linden, who started with us in October 2015. Josh says:
“When I was choosing a placement, I asked around and lots of people said that Pearn Kandola was one of the most reputable companies. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I have really enjoyed the placement so far. I have been given quite a lot of work and responsibility, but all within my capabilities. Also, I have been attending development centres and workshops on an almost weekly basis, which has been really exciting.”
One of the most rewarding things is seeing the success that many of our placement students go on to achieve. Lizzie Townsend, who was our first placement student, is a great example. She came to Pearn Kandola on a placement from 2010-11.
“The year was brilliant,” she says. “It was really good to get practical experience of what it is like doing consulting.”
Upon completion of her studies, Lizzie then worked at Arup as a consultant, and in December 2015 returned to Pearn Kandola to take up a role as a psychologist. She says:
“I had always wanted to come back to Pearn Kandola. I like the type of work they do – particularly the diversity work, which no one else seems to be doing – and also the fact that all of their work is so embedded in research.”
Pearn Kandola’s work with the IWP includes supporting students with their dissertations.
“Each year we sponsor two or three projects that involve discrete pieces of research with organisations,” says Stuart, “which is hugely useful to us because the research findings can then be applied directly in our solutions with organisations and the way that we approach coaching situations.”
In the past year, we have completed projects with two students: one which investigated scoring mechanisms for situational judgement tests by Joel Ockwell and the other which looked at individual differences in leadership emergence by Charlotte Axon.
We also help to support students by sponsoring prizes. We have sponsored the British Psychological Society/Division of Occupational Psychology Student Award of Excellence for several years. This year’s winner was Julie Jebsen from the University of Wolverhampton, whose project was on Sickness Presenteeism – Work over Health.
Pearn Kandola has also sponsored the best dissertation student prize at the IWP. This year’s prize was won by Kester Poon, with an excellent dissertation on Manager Flexibility as a Moderator of the HRM-Affective Commitment Relationship.