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Welsh training company finds success in taking their ‘Call of the Wild’ online

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While COVID-19 has meant challenges for all companies, the advent of the ‘digital age’ has represented a fillip to those able to adapt their offering – and for one Welsh training company able to react to changed circumstances quickly, it has meant retaining its largest contract with one of the UK’s biggest retailers.

Call of the Wild, a training company whose offering is rooted in its incredible surroundings and landscapes of the Brecon Beacons, where it is based, was quick to pivot its offering when lockdown measures started being introduced in March 2020. Nine months on, it is embarking on its biggest ever online contract – a virtual management development programme for 600 managers at a large UK retailer. By moving from face to face delivery to a redesigned online programme it has meant renewal of the contract for 2021.

The company is also benefitting from a growing willingness in big companies to invest in their staff, keeping them engaged and motivated through a period when many are still working from home and juggling the challenges and demands presented as a result of COVID-19.

Some experts suggest that the e-learning industry globally would be worth $325 billion by 2025. This figure may well quadruple as a result of the enforced acceleration driven by COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns. In the UK, many professional bodies including the CIPD are urging companies to invest in training their staff to enhance both mental wellbeing and boost economic recovery.

Call of the Wild’s approach to adapting to an online environment has been especially innovative as the business has developed new and unique ways of delivering its leadership courses to ensure they continue to be an immersive and challenging experience – even when completed virtually.

Training company ‘Call of the Wild’ moves into the digital world by conducting training sessions online (Image: Seren Global Media)

The company has succeeded in continuing to leverage the incredible landscape and geographical features around its headquarters in the Brecon Beacons by bringing the ruggedness of its outdoor ‘green classroom’ programmes to the screen – filming various scenarios and allowing participants to choose different outcomes.

One of its training programmes, themed ‘Behind Enemy Lines’, a course designed to develop leadership skills, improve team performance and motivation, uses footage of real geographical features and the physical challenges they present including rivers, rapids, caves and cliffs to offer participants scenario-based exercises that replicate the experience of being in the Brecon Beacons.

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Through this virtual world, participants will need to display leadership skills, work as a team to journey across the wild Brecon Beacons while completing tasks and challenges to obtain clues. In one scenario, coordinates will lead the team to a downed plane in the area, where they must find the pilot and extract him from the mountains as quickly as possible.

Mark Soanes, director, Call of the Wild, said: “The reality is that we are a Welsh company based in a pretty remote location who have used the outdoor ‘green classroom’ as a powerful vehicle for learning to take place. That has always been our USP and we have based our identity and programmes historically around our location and everything that offers.

“But just as we teach on our leadership programmes, we have turned the challenges of this year into an opportunity. We have embraced the digital world, put our own unique spin on things, and that has allowed us to continue to offer our programmes to clients albeit in a different way but without diminishing their impact.

“Landing this contract, which starts in January, is significant for us and we look forward to working with many more clients of this size. We are also speaking to customers in the US and parts of Europe. We genuinely believe that what has happened in 2020 will serve us in good stead long term now.” 

Call of the Wild works very closely with its clients across the UK, many of them blue chip, to create tailor-made learning and team-building sessions, identifying the specific needs and aims of each client company. Its bespoke courses focus on achieving desired outcomes by creating positive behavioural change within the workplace. The programmes all have measurable outcomes and are aimed specifically at delivering a return on the client’s investment.

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Port Talbot industrial door manufacturer celebrates year of continued growth

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Rhino Doors, the UK’s leading manufacturer of high-performance engineered doors, has seen significant growth in 2021, amid the continued expansion of its services to clients across transport, defence and critical national infrastructure.

Established in 1983, the company designs bespoke, industrial doors for the protection of national assets, and has supplied its products to the likes of Transport for London and the Ministry of Defence.

This year saw Rhino establish its parent company, Rhino Engineering Group, and two specialist subsidiaries: Rhino HySafe, which produces explosion relief products for the global hydrogen market, and Rhino Site Systems, its bespoke after-sales and installation wing.

The creation of these new trading entities comes after a string of major contract wins for the company, including the Bank Station Capacity Upgrade Project and the installation of bespoke doors in the cross passages of Moorgate Station.

These recent successes for Rhino Doors, which has manufacturing bases in both Burscough in Lancashire and Port Talbot in South Wales, are a positive sign for both the local economies and the workforce.

One of Rhino Doors’ manufacturing facilities

“We’re thrilled with all Rhino has achieved so far in 2021,” said Stuart Lawrence, Managing Director of Rhino Engineering Group.

“From our TfL contracts and our work with a major North American rail tunnel, to a string of new hires and promotions due to our growth, we’re scaling up and strengthening our position as a trusted name within the engineering sector.

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“Alongside this, we’re committed to investing in people and our growth has allowed us to upskill our workforce to ensure we deliver the very best for all our clients.

“As part of the Made in Britain community, and with new ISO accreditations under our belts, we are proud to be in such a strong position, representing the benchmark in British design and manufacturing excellence.

“We want this growth to positively impact on the UK manufacturing sector as a whole, but crucially, we want to continue to benefit our local economies, creating jobs and opportunities for working people in North West England and South Wales.”

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How Welsh curries are improving the lives of children and families in India

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Swansea diners eating at two of the city’s most popular Indian restaurants are unknowingly helping to improve the health and lives of children and families thousands of miles away.

Brothers Jas and Suki Kullar, who own Rasoi Indian Kitchen in Pontlliw and Rasoi Waterfront in SA1, have made it their mission to help people in Dera Baba Nanak in the impoverished district of Gurdaspur in Punjab through their charity, Sikhi Sewa Missions UK. They have committed 20 per cent of their annual profits to causes in their homeland.

Swansea diners are funding a hospital in the region which was built and is sustained by the Sikhi Sewa Mission UK, providing free medical health care for people in Dera Baba Nanak including regular eye screening camps in more remote areas, where locals can attend and receive treatment. They have also provided funding for school fees and uniforms for hundreds of children to access education as well as funding coaching lessons for young people to learn to sew, so they can earn extra income.

This year, the brothers have organised the installation of a water-well for locals and have funded food supplies for 40 families every month.

In addition to the Sikhi Sewa Mission the restaurant also supports charities closer to home such as the Swansea Young Single Homeless Project by inviting service users to the restaurant for meals and catering at their facility.

Jas Kullar said: “It’s really important to us at Rasoi to play some part in improving the lives of people back in Dera Baba Nanak and here in Wales.

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“When we visit Punjab to visit family, we see for ourselves how difficult it is for many people so it means so much to us as a family that we can help, as well as helping causes here in Wales. It gives us huge satisfaction to know that we’re giving back in some way. But we couldn’t help as many people as we do, without the help of our loyal customers. We cannot thank them enough’

He continues: “We have worked very hard to offer something different to the usual curry offering in Swansea and we hope that our customers will have an extra warm feeling knowing that they are helping people both at home and thousands of miles away when they dine with us.”

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Market management job is dream role for Darren

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The man just appointed to manage Swansea Market says it is his dream role.

Swansea-raised Darren Cox is eager to make the iconic venue as welcoming and engaging as possible to traders, neighbours and customers.

He became market supervisor after a 27-year career in private sector businesses.

He now heads a market that, in non-pandemic times, attracts more than four million shoppers a year.

Managed by Swansea Council, it is the permanent home to more than 100 businesses, hosts casual traders and puts on regular events.

Darren said: “The market is so close to my heart that I’m thrilled to get this role – it’s a dream come true.

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“Retail around the UK hasn’t had it easy for the past few years but I’m confident that the market can help traders – and the city – come back strongly as we work our way out of the pandemic.

Swansea Market gives shoppers something that online shopping can’t – the human touch – and I want to ensure that all who visit feel safe, secure and welcome.

“We have strong relationships with our neighbours such as the Quadrant and the fantastic new arena and we’ll help Swansea as it continues to develop in such a positive way; the progress made on regeneration through the pandemic has been remarkable.”

Council cabinet member Robert Francis-Davies said: “I welcome Darren to this pivotal role – he’s passionate about Swansea, the city centre and the market.”

Darren was raised in Sketty, educated at Olchfa School and vividly remembers being taken around the market by his parents as a young boy.

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His first job – soon after graduating from University College Birmingham – was in Tenerife as a holiday rep. He then worked on the island for 25 years in roles such as commercial and operations management.

Before joining the market he was operations manager with the Swansea-based La Braseria group for two years.

Darren lives in Swansea with his partner Natasha and her daughter. He also has an adult son and daughter.

At the market, he replaces John Burns who retired as supervisor in the summer.

Last year the venue was named Britain’s best large indoor market by the National Association of British Market Authorities.

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Lead Image: Darren Cox, the new supervisor of Swansea Market. (Image: Swansea Council)

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