Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Michelle, Sue and LIz

Our Pro-Development Challenge; 3 women; 3 charities; 3 peaks

OK, so we’ve signed up for this, we’ve been given a training plan, we’ve chosen our charities, we’ve created a JustGiving team page ….. now all there is to do is ….. PANIC!!!! Aghhhh!

For those of you who don’t know what the Yorkshire Three Peaks is, here is a description :-

The Yorkshire Three Peaks is one of England’s greatest mountain challenge walks, and it truly is a challenge – 25 miles (40-km), 1,600m of ascent in 12 hours of walking (6 hours of which is uphill). This is a similar distance to a marathon, BUT with the added challenge of walking up three mountains. It is a demanding, strenuous walk that must be approached with preparation.

The Three Peaks are around the Settle area of the Yorkshire Dales and are called Pen y Ghent; Ingleborough and Whernside.

See why we said “panic”!!!

We are looking to raise as much money as possible for our 3 chosen charities, York Mind, Dementia Forward and Yorkshire Cancer Research so if you can help us, please donate whatever you can on our Just Giving page.

3 women – walking & fitness profiles

Michelle Mook – weekly easy walks, netwalking, horse riding, swimming, cycling

Sue Courtney – running (well a slow trot !), walking around the shops!

Liz Dunn – lots of easy dog walking, gym, swimming, running 5k’s

Update 1 – beginning the training

As I write this blog, to date, we have done the following training:-

Michelle– climbed Whernside on 3rd May and Pen-y-Ghent on 16th May.

Sue – bought a new lawn mower! No joke she hasn’t done any training yet hmmmm

Liz – climbed Pen-y-Ghent on Sunday 12/7/15

Liz said “I did this walk with my new walking boots, my husband and 12 year old son. I can honestly say I enjoyed it, on the whole, apart from the two sections of unexpected rock climbing which I definitely wasn’t prepared for. My son climbed up with no bother as if he was a monkey, no fear at all, in fact he said it was the best bit! My husband appeared to have no bother either, whereas I couldn’t look down, hung onto every rock like it was my lifeline and was just grateful I survived the experience once I was at the top. A lot of “manning up” or “womanning up” was going on I can assure you! My husband later admitted that he also had to “man up” and didn’t like the rock climbing bits. We deducted that as we get older, our sense of fear grows because you worry about “what could happen” rather than just getting on with it like a 12 year old would. In the same way, I can’t go on really scary rollercoasters now-a-days, whereas when I was 15 I would go on anything!

We will keep this blog up to date for those of you who want to follow our progress as we make our way from gentle dog walks through to what is effectively a marathon with 3 mountains to climb! Look our for our tweets and newsletters!

A new member of the team!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

We are pleased to officially announce that we have a new member of our team! Liz Dunn has joined us and will be working with the social media and IT side of things along with supporting Michelle and Sue on lots of other projects.

Liz has a solid training background and worked at York NHS Trust for 14 years in the Training Team.

We are delighted that she has joined us and especially happy that she has agreed (at her interview) to do the Three Peaks Challenge with us!

Liz Dunn

Click here for more information on Liz

Meet the boss – Article printed in the York Evening Press 27th May 2015

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

It was 2011 when Michelle Mook set up Pro-Development, an employee engagement and development specialists now working with SMEs in and around Yorkshire and the Humber.

The venture was established to deliver bespoke people, learning and development solutions that drive value and achieve the right outcomes for businesses.

With more than 20 years’ experience in employee engagement and development, and a passion for delivering solutions, Mrs Mook feels Pro-Development makes a tangible difference by developing people and helping businesses to grow.

Ms Mook left school at 16, very unclear of her career path. After attending Beverley College for a year, her first job was working for a small business in Market Weighton before joining Humberside County Council in 1990.

It was while working here that she was offered an opportunity to deliver a training programme for Social Services, which is where she discovered her passion for helping others to learn and develop.

Around the same time, she started studying part time at the University of Humberside, and achieved a degree in Business Management in 1995.

Ms Mook went on to work as a training consultant for a Microsoft Certified Training Centre before joining York Hospitals Trust as a training manager, where she spent a number of years developing other trainers. In 2006, her creative and innovative approach to learning and development was recognised by the Learning & Performance Institute, and she was awarded a Gold Award for Trainer of the Year in 2006.

Her passion for helping business to grow through employee engagement has also led her to volunteer with the national Engage for Success movement, which is committed to helping businesses release more of the capabilities and potential of people at work by enabling personal growth, organisational growth and – ultimately – growth for Britain.

What job would you like to have other than your own and why?

“I’ve always loved film and television, and had aspirations to be an actress when I was younger. I settled with supporting local amateur dramatics, where I have performed a number of starring roles: a cat called snuggles, a hockey-playing bumble bee and a nun (when I was six months pregnant!).”

Greatest achievement?

“Personally it would have to be my two wonderful sons, who I am so proud of. Professionally, it’s the recognition I have received for my innovative and creative approach to learning and development which, last year, led to being selected as a finalist for Learning Professional of the Year against massive corporates such as Tesco and Barclays Bank.”

What makes you most angry?

“My core values are honesty and kindness, so I struggle with those who aren’t and also people who are disrespectful.”

Biggest mistake?

“Gosh, where to start! Leaning on a table when I was training a group, only to discover it had wheels (it broke the ice and nothing else, fortunately!). On a more serious note, leaving it so long to set up Pro-Development. As a result of this, I have learnt to take more risks and be brave, though.”

What do you need to make life complete?

“I feel very lucky to be doing what we do, with such a great team, working with some amazing people and businesses in such a beautiful part of the world. I’ve got two fabulous boys, the best family and friends and I always find the fun in whatever I do. What more could a girl want? I guess the only thing would be to meet that special someone to share it all with.”

Why do you make a difference?

“Because we’re passionate about what we do, we’re creative and innovative and not afraid to be different. We always make sure that we have clear outcomes, which we always aim to exceed.”


“She believed she could and she did.”

Learning about yourself and others

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Fuzzy face

You might think that your strengths are ‘just things you’re naturally good at’, but they’re so much more than that! Strengths are something that exist within us, come naturally to us and give us energy. Sometimes we don’t even know we have them!

So beware…strengths can easily be overlooked when it comes to personal development. How many times have you focused on developing your weaknesses rather than using your strengths? More times than you can remember, probably. Sure, if you know what your weakness are you can manage them better and perhaps minimise their use, but surely it is far more energising to use your strengths to compensate for any weakness?

If you’re put on the spot and asked to identify your strengths, a lot of people find it difficult. That’s why it’s great to have an opportunity to understand what they are and then look at ways of playing to them, bringing them to the fore and sharing them with others.

When we use our strengths and live our personal values we feel energised and true to ourselves. It brings about a sense of fulfilment and authenticity. It helps us perform at our best and deliver great results. Sharing your values with each other in a team environment at work also means that you understand each other better and can start to behave in a way that respects what’s important to you all. And, once business owners understand the strengths of the people within their team, they can align tasks and projects with the right people for the best results, both for them and for the business.

Understanding your strengths and values can sound quite deep to some people, or a bit ‘pink and fluffy’ to others, but it has teeth! You can’t dismiss the importance of learning about yourself and others, and you can click here to read a couple of recent client stories to show the impact it can have.

If you would like to increase your self-awareness, or work with your team to uncover their strengths and values, contact us. We’d be very happy to help you bring out the best in you and your team.

Learning at Work and International Coaching Week – 18th – 24th May 2015

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries, Uncategorized

Learning at work week

Learning at Work Week is an annual awareness campaign organised by the Campaign for Learning since 1999. You can take part as a learner, company, or learning provider. Last year, thousands of organisations took part including large corporations, SMEs, public sector organisations and government departments.

Learning at Work Week aims to put the spotlight on the importance and benefits of learning and development. It promotes an inclusive approach and supports the extension of opportunities to learn to all employees, especially those who may not currently participate for reasons that may range from personal barriers to historic organisational structures that focus development on particular staff.

Just some of the benefits of taking part:

+ Changing attitudes to learning and work

+ Greater awareness of opportunities to learn

+ Greater employee engagement

+ Informing business & learning and development strategies

+ Stimulating and collating feedback, ideas and perspectives that inform future planning

+ Opportunities to discover and recognise internal talent

+ Greater recognition and valuing of different ways to learn in the workplace

+ Highlighting business priorities, agendas and addressing change

+ Addressing workplace silos and bridging information gaps

Learning at Work Week offers an opportunity to run a branded learning campaign in your workplace linked to a national event. Each year, thousands of organisations take part in the Week and run vibrant campaigns and activities which engage employees across their businesses in development and promote positive messages about learning. Learning at Work Week is not prescriptive in terms of what your company should do and how you should mark it, but provides a clear framework and ideas for planning events and activities that fit your particular context and goals and is explicitly linked to your business objectives and/or opportunities and the needs of your employees. This ensures that your Learning at Work Week activities can be built on after the event.

experience coaching

This week of celebration of learning coincides with International Coaching Week where professional coaches around the world will host events to enable members of their community to experience the proven personal and professional benefits of coaching. Here in York there are numerous events taking place organised by Coaching York during International Coaching Week 2015. Places at all events are limited so early bookings are recommended to guarantee your place – cick here for the full list of York events.

How we’re supporting Learning at Work and International Coaching Week

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Monday 18th May Playing to Strengths

Supporting local business ‘Partners PR’ in identifying their team’s strengths and running sessions with individual members so they can maximise on these strengths and find opportunities to develop them further. If you’d like to know more about the importance of learning about yourself and others, developing self-awareness, living to your values and playing to each other’s strengths why not read our blog.

Tuesday 19th May Discover York; Discover Coaching Event

Pro-Development are facilitating ‘Discover Coaching, Discover York’ alongside fellow coaches Jules Wyman and Karen Hickman. Why not join Michelle, Sue, Jules and Karen for a reflective walking experience of coaching as we take to the glorious streets of York. This event is open to anyone who would like to know and understand more about coaching and those who would value doing so in a reflective and experiential way. This event involves walking and will last about 1hr 15 minutes, it may involve climbing stairs.

For more about this event and to book your free place, go to the Coaching York Website.

Wednesday 20th May CIPD West Yorkshire Annual Meeting 2015

Michelle will be joining an esteemed panel in a ‘question time’ type event at First Direct arena in Leeds, where delegates will be given the opportunity to ask questions relevant to their own employee issues. Michelle will be a great addition to the panel in terms of how organisations large and small can work smarter around employee engagement.

Thursday 21st May Reviewing Pro-Developments learning needs.

Spending time in the business, looking at our learning requirements, and capturing our key learnings over the last 3 ½ Years.

Friday 22nd May International Coaching Week Celebration Lunch

Following such a busy week, Michelle will join fellow coaches for a well-deserved lunch and celebration of coaching over such a fantastic week.

How can you support Learning at Work and International Coaching Week?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Learning at work week

There are lots of thing you can do to get involved. Here are some ideas to get you started.

• Talk to your employees about their development needs and career aspirations.

• Run a couple of events where you can share with your team what development is available and how to access it.

• Run lunch and learn sessions. These are short sessions (20 minutes – 40 minutes) on various topics to support your business.

• Run workshops, various durations on various topics.

• Ask members of your team to deliver some lunch and learns/workshops. This is a great opportunity for them to gain some experience in presenting and public speaking.

• Put on a mix of work-related and non-work related activities designed to engage and inspire all employees to learn.

• Design activities where colleagues meet each other from different parts of the business e.g. market places, skill swaps, job shadowing.

• Devise some quizzes or run competitions about the business, encouraging cross team engagement.

• Ask individuals to share how they have developed and grown within the company.

• Engage senior managers in activities that promote and embody the value the organisation attaches to learning.

• Develop manager’s skills in supporting a culture of learning in their teams.

• Ask the Chairman/MD to share their story to inspire and motivate the team.

• Set challenges to learn about your industry with a prize for the best entry.

• Share Adult Education offerings in the area.

• Contact Pro-Development for help and support.

• Attend the free ‘Discover York, Discover Coaching’ session on the 19th May 2015 in York City Centre. If you can’t attend this 1pm session, there are 2 other sessions at 2.30pm and 4.00pm or alternatively, have a look at the variety of free events running for International coaching week organised through Coaching York.

If you are interested in taking part in Learning at Work Week and would like some support in getting started, you can also go to the Get Started section of the Campaign for Learning website where you can register online to access planning materials and resources and you’ll receive their regular newsletters with special offers and updates.

The skills to grow your business, the funding to make it happen

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

We are pleased to announce that Pro-Development are now an registered provider with Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Skills Service.

What this means

This is exciting news for SMEs as it means if you work within the Leeds region 50% match funding is available for training and development provided that the eligibility criteria is met. You’ll also be pleased to learn that the Leeds Region incorporates SMEs that are based in York, Harrogate, Craven, Selby, Barnsley and all of West Yorkshire.

More about the LEP

The LEP promotes the Leeds City Region’s interests on a national and international scale, helping business and enterprise to thrive by unlocking potential through partnership. The LEP’s vision is to unlock the potential of the City Region, developing an economic powerhouse that will create jobs and prosperity. They aim to do this by being a relevant, essential and enabling partner to growing businesses within the City Region, and by opening the door to a new relationship with government. The LEP also have a skills service which you can access, if eligible, for the match funding. This means if you have a budget to put towards training, you could also be eligible for funding of between £500 and £50,000.

Is your business eligible?

To be eligible for skills funding your business must:

• be based in the Leeds City Region (which includes York, Harrogate, Craven, Selby, Barnsley and all of West Yorkshire.)

• employ fewer than 250 people and have an annual turnover of less than £40million

• be able to provide a contribution to the cost of training, as a minimum 50%

• be in one of our priority sector, which are:

  • Creative and digital
  • Finance and Business
  • Medical Technology
  • Hospitality and tourism
  • Low Carbon
  • Manufacturing and engineering
  • Transport and logistics
Map Eligible and want to access the funding?

1. Go to the LEP site, skills page

2. Complete the on-line form and answer some questions about you and your business, and the required skills development including:

a. What training is required and for how many people?

b. What will the added value be to your business by undertaking this training?

c. What are the objectives for undertaking the training?

3. You will then be asked ‘do you require further support in identifying a training provided’ –at this point you can select ‘No’ and enter Pro-Development as your registered training provider.

Interested and would like to find out more?

Why not have a look at the LEP site. The site is packed full of information, go to the skills page for specific information about the funding for development which we are accredited to deliver for you. This really is a fantastic opportunity for businesses in the region, we look forward to working together to help your business flourish and grow.

Appearing in venues near you…..Management Development Programme

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Pro-Development PresentDid you see our blockbuster? 145 hits and counting, small steps again, but small steps do lead to big changes.

So if you need a change in your business and need managers who engage and inspire the team to deliver great results then get in touch and we can share how this programme can unlock potential and create a life changing experience.

Remember we are a Growth Accelerator Accredited Leadership and Management Provider so, if you are part of the GA programme, you can access matched funding for the programme – don’t miss out!

If you would like to know more about the programme Click here, and if you would like to secure your place Click here for a booking form.

We’re going to Venturefest…are you?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Venturefest 2If you are an entrepreneur working in a science, technology, creative or high growth business then you will find inspiration, advice and investment at Venturefest. Maybe you are an investor or a business that works with businesses in these sectors then you will find innovative ideas and motivated business people to invest in and meet. We’ve been going every year and always come away inspired – it’s definitely worth a visit and we are exhibiting this year with our partners in crime One to One Recruitment. Follow the yellow brick road (all will be clear on the day) and join in our fun!!! Featuring a very special guest speaker! We are very proud to announce that our very own Michelle Mook is guest speaker at Venturefest and will be talking about how important employee engagement is to the success of your business.. It should prove to be a great event – hope to see you there