Health Protection Agency Case Study: Succession Planning & Talent Management 


Client Profile:

Industry Sector: Healthcare/Medical

Number of Employees: 3,300

Location: Nationwide


With significant numbers of very senior HPA staff approaching retirement over the next few years, there was an urgent need to identify current senior managers with the high potential to take on these challenging roles in the next two years.

High potential employees who were in technical or research based roles would first need to be identified as being likely to benefit from intensive development activity, preparing them so succeed to top leadership within the organisation.


The project was split into 2 stages. First, high potential individuals were identified at Development Centre events, before beginning a tailored programme of development built around developing the competencies and skills which are required at senior level.

Identifying High Potential: The Development Centre

Two-day Development Centres were designed to assess the competencies identified in the HPA Leadership Framework around Strategic Influencing, Political Astuteness, Inspiring Change, Drive for Results, Collaborative Working and Personal Improvement.

The effective assessment and development of these qualities in high potential individuals would determine the success or failure of the project.  The Centres comprised a number of work simulation exercises and other assessments to gain a comprehensive view of strengths and development needs.  By July, more than 100 staff will have attended a Centre.

The Leadership Development Programme (LDP)

Following the Development Centre, senior managers then took part in a structured programme designed to improve their effectiveness in each are a of the Leadership Framework.  A conscious decision was taken not to restrict the programme to those identified as having the highest potential at the Development Centre, as the HPA is committed to developing leadership capability across the organisation.

The original brief specified a series of one-day workshops, the design and content of which was determined through a series of interviews with Executive Directors and focus groups with other stakeholders.  This information was considered alongside the Leadership Framework and compared with data from the Development Centres.   The eventual programme which would deliver the outcomes for HPA included a flexible blend of residential workshops, 360º feedback, coaching and peer group learning.

The programme was formally launched by the CEO, reinforcing the cultural significance of developing critical leadership behaviours of high potential managers.

Prior to attending the programme, participants could undertake an evaluation of their own development needs.  Various options were given, such as gaining feedback from peers, obtaining 360o feedback and working with an executive coach.  In this way, participants were accountable and empowered to manage their own career development.

The workshops were designed to focus upon real situations and challenges faced by the participants in their day-to-day jobs while also stretching them in order to encourage sustainable and measurable development of the HPA competencies.  All workshops focused heavily on participation and practical application.  New skills were learned and retained, leading to lasting positive behavioural change.


More than 70 staff have now attended a Development Centre and the first cohort is nearing completion of the workshop programme. Although not yet completed, ongoing evaluation is showing that it is resulting in valuable outcomes including improved performance by participants in their current roles.

What the client says

“The selection of an appropriate organisation was extremely important as I knew that their skills would make or break the project considering our very demanding target population. Slick consultancy would have withered on the vine unless supported by intellectual clout and the willingness to receive and if necessary contest robust scrutiny. Feedback has been nothing but positive. My own team, as well as delegates have nothing but the highest praise for the professionalism of the a&dc Consultants who have worked with us to deliver this programme.” John Phipps Director of HR. HPA