February 14, 2017

Vistage Case Study: The Route to Strategic Clarity and Focus at John Laing Training


As a provider of apprenticeships and reliant on public funding, John Laing Training (JLT) was vulnerable to shifts in government policy. Its management buyout of 2008 was followed by the introduction of austerity budgeting - a period of intense change for the business. As Managing Director, Lorraine Tomlinson pushed ahead with diversification into new sectors, but this made little difference to the bottom line. “It was the right strategy but it felt like one step forward and two steps back,” says Lorraine. “I wasn’t able to grow the revenue streams of the business as much as I would have liked.”

Lorraine realised what was missing - clearer strategic direction and focus. It was at this point that she was introduced to Vistage, the peer group mentoring and coaching organisation that puts business leaders together to share and resolve common problems and challenges. “I came out of my first Vistage meeting feeling energised and inspired,” she says. “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!”

One year with Vistage has given Lorraine a much clearer picture of the most promising emerging markets for JLT, and she can look to the future with confidence. Like many CEOs and MDs, Lorraine gets few opportunities to take time out. Vistage membership gives her a day a month receiving guidance from seasoned business leaders and absorbing their insights. Lorraine concludes: “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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