Member stories

Lorraine Tomlinson

John Laing Training

Lorraine Tomlinson

Managing Director, John Laing Training

I felt I had found a group of people that would be both supportive and challenging to take my business forward

“I felt I had found a group of people that would be both supportive and challenging to take my business forward”

Lorraine Tomlinson

Managing Director, John Laing Training

John Laing Training (JLT) offer a wide range of apprenticeships, skills development and health and safety training, working in partnership with businesses to fill skills gaps, develop talent and motivate teams. Lorraine joined JLT in 2005 as Managing Director.

Following a successful management buy-out in 2008 led by Lorraine, the company went through a number of changes. As a provider of apprenticeships, JLT were heavily reliant on government funding. “We’d gone through a period of a lot of government change and austerity which had a real impact on the business.” During this time of uncertainty, Lorraine worked hard to diversify the business, pushing into new sectors and new areas with new training. All of this helped the business to survive but had very little effect on the bottom line. “It was the right strategy but it felt like one step forward and two steps back. I wasn’t able to grow the revenue streams of the business as much as I would have liked.”

What Lorraine was looking for was clarity around her strategic vision for JLT.  “We were working in the same way with the same board and we needed fresh ideas and fresh impetus”. It was around this time that Lorraine met Helen Stenhouse, a Vistage member at a networking event. Having discussed each other’s respective businesses, Helen introduced Lorraine to Vistage and shortly after Lorraine met with local Vistage Chair, John Watkinson. “I came out of my first Vistage meeting feeling energised and inspired. I felt the group was supportive yet challenging. Just listening to the questioning and probing of other businesses made me realise I had to challenge myself more!”

Having been a Vistage member since June 2015, Lorraine already has a clearer focus of the emerging markets where new opportunities lie. As a result, Lorraine is confident JLT will generate the revenue needed to hit their ambitious growth targets. As well as the group meeting, the executive coaching gives Lorraine focused ‘time out’ of the business, spent with someone with a wealth of practical business experience. “That time, spent looking at your business is invaluable. We work on clear goals and my Chair then holds me accountable, to ensure I have achieved what I set out to do.”

Support and guidance has created space for fresh thinking. This has resulted in a move from reliance on revenue growth, to a resetting of fixed costs and a focus on a narrower offer in emerging markets. “I have real confidence in delivering the  business plan for 2016-17 and feel we have a lean and sustainable business with a stable platform for future growth!”

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