An Interview with the Governor of HMP Send

MatchFit Testimonial

Having spent 16 years as a freelance management consultant, Tim was looking for a new challenge when he came upon MatchFit. We asked him about the experience he has gained over his career and how partnering with MatchFit has proved to be the perfect fit.

An experienced trainer, coach, facilitator and management consultant, Tim’s initial career choice was actually teaching.

How did your career begin?

“I trained as a teacher,” he explains. “But those were the days when teaching jobs were hard to find, so I decided to move into sales, which I loved. I worked in financial services sales and management, in leadership and national leadership.”

However, when he was made redundant 18 years ago, he felt it was time for a change in direction.

“When I was made redundant, it gave me a chance to reflect and think, ‘What would I like to be doing next?’. I’d met one or two people at various events, working on their own in training, coaching and management consulting and I thought, ‘I’m going to give that a try’.”

Tim utilised the skills gained during his time within financial services and banking to train and advise companies across the financial services sector.

“The demand from businesses was varied” he explains. “From sales skills to management skills, leadership and coaching, development skills and then products, I’d often be brought in as part of a wider team to support learning around particular products or systems.”

He also worked with SMEs on core business skills to support their aspirations for growth.

“For SMEs, I was delivering a wide range of support to enterprises keen on growing their businesses, such as managing cash flow and debt, and developing the business. I would arrange sessions around networking, for example. I also had some specific coaching work.”

Tim has always believed in the importance of his own personal development to enhance his client role and qualified as a Level Seven coach through the Chartered Management Institute in 2009.

“I’d done a lot of coaching in my financial services leadership and management work. As my freelance business grew, I felt it was important to gain appropriate qualifications, such as the Diploma in Financial Planning, which is essential for those working in financial services. I was constantly looking out for things that I could add to my skill set.”

How did you come to work with MatchFit?

“I was looking for a new opportunity in 2020 and MatchFit posted that they were looking for facilitators. I contacted them, spoke to Emily Courtney, who introduced me to Bradley, and then I was introduced to the company’s connections in the Civil Service.

Initially my work was with the Probation Service, HM’s Courts and Tribunals Service and a private sector company. I then went on to work with the Prison Service across four establishments.

What are you working on now?

“This year, I’ve been working with the Department for Education, and on a number of programmes for the Official Solicitor and Public Trustee. I’m also working with Civil Service HR Casework and, earlier in the year, continued my work with the Prison Service.

In addition, with a private sector client, I am delivering a Leadership and Management Programme for MatchFit of six modules over a number of months, and that will run into next year.”

Tell us about the MatchFit CLIMB High Performance Teams programme you’re facilitating

Tim explains. “If you imagine a senior leadership team, wanting to develop and embed high performance, their goal is to get everyone pulling in the same direction, including the wider management team.

For the whole team to be high performing, it’s all about culture. It is very much about valuing their people, working with their people, and we support them to do that, whilst helping to identify sustainable solutions to issues identified that may block performance.”

He continues: “So it’s about identifying with people, what actions they can commit to, and how committed they are to doing those actions. How they’re going to know they’re delivering, and how they’re going to measure outcomes. And that’s how you begin to measure change. You start measuring both in terms of people’s learning, but also very importantly, in terms of their behaviour. A fantastic example of a public sector area in the Civil Service who absolutely embraced the programme, driven by their senior leadership team, is the work with the Official Solicitor and Public Trustee. The programme was not without some behavioural and historic cultural challenges to overcome, but it has worked exceptionally well.”

Have you experienced any unexpected benefits?

“I have been working with MatchFit for over two years now and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. It is great work, and they are great people to work with.

I have found the work fascinating, challenging, interesting. It’s also quite liberating, because when you go into prison, you can’t take your phone. The removal of your phone means you are temporarily cut off from parts of modern life. You cannot check your emails, for instance.

You quickly get to know about the prison culture, because before you go anywhere you need to prepare. You find out what you can and can’t do. For instance, if you want to take a laptop in, it needs to be registered in advance.”

He adds: “The culture is very hierarchical in prisons, and like a large part of the Civil Service, grade is an important thing.

You are working with senior leadership teams. HMP Bure is a good example of running a three-stage CLIMB where they committed to actions, and they have delivered on actions during that CLIMB. And they continue to deliver, after that CLIMB’s conclusion. As a result of the programme, they’re no longer saying, ‘we’re going to do 20 things’. If you try to do 20 things, you’ll probably do none, because you’re overwhelmed. If you start with two or three and then add another two or three things and you’re committed to them, then you are more likely to achieve your aims. Witnessing these outcomes is very rewarding.“

What is it you particularly enjoy about the work?

“The phenomenological methodology is something that I love and embrace,” he says. “And it’s been a lot of learning for me, because it is so different. But I think once it clicks, you can clearly see the rationale for the steps you are taking.

“I have found the CLIMB programmes tremendous to work on because they are proven to succeed; they do bring measurable results.”

Finally, how do you enjoy your downtime?

“Outside of MatchFit and work, I keep busy with my family, and my support for Newcastle United. Living close to the Yorkshire Dales, I’m a keen walker – the reward of finding a good pub is incentive enough!”

Tim is also in demand as an events speaker.

“I do not see it as work, as, like work, I enjoy it,” he explains. “I speak to clubs and societies and I’m now speaking at events and dinners, which I thoroughly enjoy. But you have to be well-prepared. You don’t want to be in front of a room of 300 people and all of a sudden you think ‘oh my gosh, what am I going to say next? “

Tim also uses the opportunity to raise money for a charity close to his heart – the Leeds-based Candlelighters Children’s Cancer charity, in memory of a family friend who was supported by the charity some years ago.

“When I’m speaking, the fee goes to the charity. I like that because it’s a win-win. I get to speak, the organisation gets a speaker and the charity receives some much-needed funds.”

You can read the HMP Send case study here