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EEF’s bespoke Leadership programme gave Wabtec team leaders and supervisors the tools to be more effective in their roles.

“The Leadership Programme delivered by Make UK has brought Team Leaders together from all sites and business units to cross-pollinate ideas and share best practice. I was delighted to see that everyone was making new connections with employees that they had never met before and discussing the good and bad of their retrospective areas” 

- Michael Isaac, Managing Director Wabtec Faiveley UK


Wabtec Faiveley UK have experienced a period of high growth mainly due to acquisition and has twelve business units throughout the country. This rapid growth has brought with it a number of challenges, of which one is a skills gap and varied competencies within the Leadership teams

Wabtec’s management recognised that managing a team to deliver consistently is not an easy task and the challenges this creates for anyone in a front line supervisor position. In the past, the common approach for career progression was promoting the employees who excelled in technical skills into positions with people managing responsibility, without a strategic approach to training or support to build their management skills.  This had created a skills gap between those at the early stages of their management career and those with years of experience who were further on in their career. 

Make UK's consultants designed and delivered a bespoke Leadership upskilling programme developed to give Wabtec managers and supervisors the tools to make them more effective in their roles. The content of the programme has been designed to cover the key elements of a team leader/supervisor role and to provide the tools, skills and knowledge to build high-performing teams.

Wabtec was aware, through its membership and having used its training in the past, that Make UK had the capability to develop a programme to its requirements. However, when they started looking for a solution, Make UK were initially considered alongside other training providers. So why did they choose Make UK?

“The key factors which we considered were that we wanted to partner with a provider who would take the time to understand our business and develop a programme specifically focused for our requirements rather than delivering an off the shelf course” said Helen Clark, UK HR Director. “We also wanted the programme to be delivered by subject matter experts and to have consistent tutors delivering the programme.” 

“It is crucial for Wabtec to provide significant investment both financially and for the future in what is a challenging market place. Team leaders and supervisors have a difficult role and carrying out the Leadership programme will be a valuable tool to succeed”.  

- Chris Weatherall, President UK Transit Group


The Make UK Leadership Development Programme was provided to twelve cohorts consisting of fourteen delegates who operate across all Wabtec business units in the UK. The cohorts were made up of delegates from different Wabtec locations and the programme was delivered at Make UK's renowned Woodland Grange venue in Warwickshire. Having delegates drawn from all areas of the business encouraged team building, cross-pollination of ideas and knowledge sharing.

The programme aimed to address a set of key business objectives:

  • Upskill all Wabtec Team Leaders/Supervisors with skills and knowledge consistent with Wabtec’s people strategy
  • Give Team Leaders/Supervisors knowledge and confidence to “nip problems in the bud” and to recognize when they need to escalate issues 
  • Embed the values and vision, called “Wabtec’s DNA” into Team Leaders/Supervisors and show how these align with daily activities and company objectives. 
  • Make Team Leaders/Supervisors able to understand the “bigger picture” and how their role fits with the global corporation.
  • Ensure delegates understand the financial implications of their actions and understand their responsibilities and accountability in the context of their role as people managers.

“The purpose of the programme was more about equipping employees with the tools to be effective in their job.  When we kick off the programme we ask the delegates to share how long they’ve been in a front line supervision role and what training they’ve had and it is often clear that there has been a lack of investment in the training and development of the cohorts” 

- Helen Clark, UK HR Director   

Make UK's worked with Wabtec to identify what the programme needed to achieve. They wanted delegates up-skilling in a range of disciplines from Leadership competency to HR, Health, Safety, Environment, Quality, Lean and Finance. A key requirement of the company was that the ‘Wabtec DNA’ and its core values would be deeply embedded in the training to create the leaders of tomorrow. 

Then, the 8 day training programme was delivered with Make UK delivering as a subject expert in each field. The Make UK Leadership Programme started in September 2017 and is still running. Make UK set work-based tasks at the end of each module to ensure that learning was demonstrated in the workplace with new skills being put into practice.


As an immediate result of the training programme the cohort was able to deliver results a number of areas contributing to Wabtec’s bottom line performance, for example:

  • Understanding how to manage people and issues in a manner which resolves problems as they arise and escalating only when necessary 
  • Managing performance in a constructive and fair manner
  • Driving their teams’ awareness of their own safety responsibilities in addition to their own as supervisors
  • Understanding their role and the importance it has in improving processes 
  • Raising awareness of how eliminating waste and wasteful practices can positively affect all aspects of the operations
  • Balancing  good customer service whilst controlling costs
  • One of the most significant outputs of the programme has been a recognition of some gaps in the leadership level above the cohorts. As a result of this Make UK has been commissioned to provide a higher level leadership programme to this level in 2019.

“It is not just about the content, the other real positive of the programme has been the opportunity to bring employees together from all of the Wabtec businesses” Helen Clark added. “The value of the networking and the sharing of good practice has been a real benefit for the whole company.” 


Wabtec Faiveley UK comprises of a number of companies owned by the Wabtec Corporation. Within their UK group, Wabtec offers a very extensive range of products and services for various sectors including rail, marine, plant and industrial. The group specialises in repower, vehicle and component overhaul, refurbishment, repair and modification. They have various manufacturing sites located across the UK.
The addition of Faiveley Transport (acquired on 1st December 2016) offers the full range of the Faiveley Transport group’s range of products, systems and services, to the UK and Irish markets for the supply of genuine OEM spare parts, repair and product overhauls. 

Find out more about how Make UK can help your business. Contact us now on 0845 293 9850

Blog / Case study / Leadership and management / Learning and development / Skills