Tilhill’s Graduate Scheme ‘Unlocking Potential’

Tilhill’s ‘Unlocking Potential’ is part of an overall Management Development Programme part of the ladder of leadership and management training at BSW Group.  Designed specifically to stretch and harness the talent and potential within the organisation, and help us focus on the strategic aspirations for the future. The aim is to give incoming graduates a supported structure during their first couple of years with the business and help provide the building blocks needed to become competent managers.

The programme has been very successful and has subsequently been adopted by BSW Timber when they became Tilhill’s parent company and will continue through the BSW Group Binderholz acquisition. Below Tony Lockey, the Group Learning & Development Manager answers questions about the Tilhill graduate scheme:

The Programme launched in November 2008 with a cohort of ten participants. Since then, the total number of participants taking part in Unlocking Potential has risen to over 160 people. Participants start their Journey through Unlocking Potential early in their training period with Tilhill.

The programme is designed to span a twelve month period and covers three journeys of two days duration. The Programme culminates in a Dragon’s Den style presentation session with the Board of Directors playing the role of the Dragon. The participants put forward a business proposal, thoroughly scoped out and thought through. The iconic and prestigious hand carved Tilhill Dragon sculptures are awarded to the winner & runners up.

The journeys are responsive to emerging needs, flexible to accommodate senior management input and have core styling around challenge, openness, fun, personal development, coaching, responsibility and business output.

Unlocking Potential

Q. What is the ‘Unlocking Potential’ element of the Management Development Programme?

A. The Key objectives of Unlocking Potential are:

  • To Inspire through greater self-awareness, drive performance and consider all stakeholder relationship management skills.
  • Create self-awareness of personal development areas, supported by profile tools, producing and actioning a personal growth plan.
  • Consider the key drivers for managing change effectively.
  • Apply the learning to live workload with evidence of business impact.
  • To offer an ongoing support mechanism which promotes wider business thinking, whilst developing an ‘it’s my own business’ collaborative culture around business development activity and shared responsibility – Networking.


Q. How has training evolved over the years?

A. The training has improved and progressed over the years due to a number of reasons including:

  • Our partner Explore Training And Development’s greater understanding of our business needs over time allows the tailoring of the course to be specific to our needs.
  • The introduction in 2017 of BSW Team members has encouraged a more holistic view of our business as a whole and helped to build relationships from each end of the Group, from seed extraction at Maelor Forest Nurseries right through to timber harvesting and sawmill operations. Introducing CarbonStore, Tilhill’s carbon offsetting arm along the way.
  • The Dragons Den events built up a number of exciting new projects which allowed fantastic ideas to be put into practice improving communication, efficiency, costs and quality right across the Group. The winning of one of the 3 magnificent dragon sculptures holds kudos for successful participants.
  • The evening sessions involving key members from the Group gave participants the chance to understand more about the business in a relaxed environment. In particular new entrant graduates benefit from the opportunity to discuss areas that might better inform them about future roles and the nature of  business.
  • Holding events over 2 days for each journey is a fantastic networking opportunity and  participants can focus fully on key areas of the sessions without work interruptions.


Q. What are the benefits to staff attending?

A. There are multiple benefits:

  • A chance to work with people from all over the business from all functions, including Directors.
  • Cutting edge training from a well- respected training organisation focused on getting the best out of our employees.
  • The ability to network with peers in the business and ask questions that might not otherwise have a chance to be asked.
  • The ability to promote ideas at the Dragons Den finale and work with others to see it become established and take shape in the business.
  • The opening up of new ideas, thoughts and interactions that might not have had the opportunity to be done previously.


Q. What is the best thing about Unlocking Potential?

A. The people make this Programme. The agenda is set but it’s flexible to the needs of the group and, with a great understanding of the course information and previous cohorts, the teams can get a vast amount of understanding, knowledge share and fun from this event making it an invaluable experience for them.


Interested in Graduate Opportunities?

Tilhill has placements starting in June.  If you’re a recent graduate or studying for your degree, you can find out more about our graduate opportunities by visiting the Graduate careers section at www.tilhill.com Applications should be emailed to careers@tilhill.com and the process closes on 28th February each year.