Olive Strachan North West Export Champion 2016
Inspiring Business North West
phone +44 (0) 161 509 2017

Olive Strachan MBE

The Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2018 recognises the achievements of a wide range of extraordinary people across the UK. In the 100th anniversary year of women’s suffrage, there are a range of awards for women at the forefront of their professions.

Global business woman, Entrepreneur and Founder of Olive Strachan Resources, Olive, who has established and run her own Learning and Development Consultancy since 1998 is 1 of the 392 at MBE who has been honoured in the Queen’s Birthday honours list. Having worked as a Management Development Specialist and an International Learning Development Consultant for over 20 years, Olive is delighted to be recognised to receive the award for her Services to Exports in Professional Business. As a UKTI North West Export Champion Olive has worked in over 25 countries, as a Consultant, Executive Coach and Trainer helping organisations to develop leaders to achieve their full potential.

Olive commented:

“I am overwhelmed and honoured to receive an MBE. I help people develop and businesses grow. I have an infectious energy for supporting businesses and their teams succeed. I love what I do and to receive this accolade is truly humbling and I feel very proud.”

Aside from her profession, Olive has contributed and undertaken many voluntary roles, including committee representative for the Leeward Islands Peoples Association in Manchester and she has also been highly commended by the Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD) for her role as the Chair of Manchester Branch before becoming a CIPD Council Representative, a role she has cherished and was very proud to undertake. Olive has also been a mentor for the NatWest Entrepreneurial Spark Programme, mentoring young entrepreneurs in start-up businesses.

Olive's Career

From working with individuals, SME's, Manufacturing Firms, Blue Chip Companies, Housing Associations, to Colleges & Universities, Olive has a varied portfolio of public and private sector clients all over the world.

Olive was voted for 3 consecutive years as one of the top most influential women in the North West by Business Insider UK Magazine and she has been recognised as one of the top 100 most influential women in business in the Northwest in 2014, 2015 & 2016.

Prior to being The Chair of the Manchester CIPD, Olive, was Vice Chair for 2 years. Her current role is to act as a CIPD representative/HR Leader locally and nationally.

Olive's Background

Olive grew up in Blackburn from the age of 6-19 years where she went to St Albans Junior School and John Rigby Secondary School.

Previous to this she was brought up in her home country of Dominica where she hopes to return to open a Caribbean Branch of OSR.

Olive Strachan Resources announces their summer line-up of training programmes with a focus on inspiration and motivation.

Olive Strachan - OSR

Olive says, ‘Both of our country's leading politicians suffered from some rocky moments on the campaign trail, but it was Jeremy Corbyn who eventually smashed the polls to achieve a huge political upset. So how did he do it? The answer is, of course, knowing how to lead.’

But can you learn how to lead people? Does the ability to inspire and motivate people come naturally or is it something you can pick up? For Manchester-based entrepreneur Olive Strachan, it's definitely the latter.

For the past 18 years, Olive has been working to teach professionals how to lead, how to inspire, and how to engage their staff members at her firm, Olive Strachan Resources. She's just announced her summer training programmes and there's a clear focus on delivering the inspiration that managers need to refresh the energy of their staff over the summer months.

July will see OSR delivering training in areas including 'Influencing and Persuading Skills', 'Driving Performance', and 'The Strategic and Inspiring Leader'.

The summer months can also be a time of flux and change in workplaces across the country and that's why Olive will also be sharing her expertise in 'Diversity Inclusion & Unconscious Bias', 'Handling Difficult Situations', and 'Managing Change' towards the end of July.

From August, Olive and her team are slightly switching up their output to focus on how leaders can provide insight and inspiration to their colleagues. 'Delivery Through People', 'The Effective People Manager', and 'Effective Communicator' will all be running from OSR's Manchester office throughout August.

A full list of OSR's summer courses can be found on the OSR website.

Of course, the summer months can be a seriously busy time for some businesses and that's why OSR have announced that all their summer courses will be echoed in September and October. Even if you don't find the time to book a course in summer, there's no need to panic!

From their Manchester office, Olive Strachan Resources have worked with some huge clients including the British Council, Odeon, and CIPD, and has even broadened her horizons globally.

With courses aimed at managers, leaders, and anyone else looking to boost their intrapersonal skills, Olive has something for everyone. Perhaps Theresa May will be wishing she'd taken part in Olive's 'Influencing And Persuading Skills' course this week.

Commercial Director, Sam Ashton of Packaging Automation Ltd – a global engineering and manufacturing company says: “The effect of the OSR Employee Engagement programme has had on all the staff is truly rewarding and promising for the future.”

She adds: “The culture change is evident and everyone is more motivated, it has been an enriching experience for everyone involved.”

OSR's courses are accessible to anyone and very affordable, costing between £150 and £299 + VAT per session, and aim to exponentially increase your workforce's output, helping you to deliver real, workable solutions to every challenge you might face.

If your workplace has questions, then Olive and her team have the answers!

Life of HR

On Saturday 25th of February 2017 I presented a session on the DNA of an Ideal HR Director, this was based around research by Hays Recruitment and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). This was part of an event organised by Lancashire CIPD Volunteer Committee and the lovely branch chair Jenny Bond invited me to speak.

The survey had been conducted at a time of significant change for the UK economy and for HR professionals both HAYS and the CIPD wanted to sound out the views of the HR profession and open a debate on:


  • What do they think are the skills and capabilities required by the ideal HR Director as we emerged from a global financial crisis?
  • Are the skills and capabilities needed in the future any different from those needed now?
  • And what are the perceptions that junior professional have about the role of their senior colleagues compared to those of the HR Director themselves?

The research focused on three areas:

  • Strategic credibility
  • Business knowledge/acumen
  • Personal credibility

My session was 45 minutes long, it was impossible to cover the full report in this time, plus I wanted make it an interactive session. I shared the research with the audience then gave them the opportunity to share their views. The first question was? What are the key capabilities required by an ideal HR Director in order to contribute to and advance strategic level planning? The report identified the strategic credibility priorities of a leader were:

  • Cultivating a high performance culture the ability to foster collaboration
  • Knowledge sharing across the organisation and encourage a culture of innovation
  • The need to develop a far greater understanding of social media and the opportunities it provides

The audience agreed with the research particularly when it came to social media, I asked for a show of hands from the audience regarding how many of them had a LinkedIn account. Most of the 70-strong audience put their hands up. However when asked if their account was currently in use and frequently up-dated it was a different story! One of my personal recommendations was that as a credible professional in the current climate it was imperative that you create ‘brand you’ which means making sure you use all the tools available to you to get your message out there.

LinkedIn – Key facts and figures

  • 476 million + registered users
  • Fast growing – more than 2 new members per second
  • Global reach – over 200 countries and territories in 24 languages
  • More than 40 million students and recent college graduates
  • 40% of users visit Linked In daily.

Peter Cheese in this month’s People Management states that, “Professionalism is also about belonging to a wider community”! As HR professionals, we need to create our brand and share it as widely as possible. Another community that we should make the most of is the CIPD itself with a community of 140,000 members worldwide.

Business knowledge and acumen

What are the key capabilities required by an ideal HR Director in order to understand and contribute to business operations and planning?

They need to support the business but with a growing external focus, what are the current global trends and what will be their impact? Understand and support the value chain/business drivers and help to actively build sustainability through strategy and policy. It is vital that the HR strategy supports the Business strategy.

This question generated a great deal of response about the way in which HR is perceived by the rest of the business. HR unfortunately is still seen by some Directors as a cost rather than a benefit, if there is a problem it tends to land at HR’s door, but when HR has done a good job and things are going smoothly there is often no recognition or appreciation for a job well done. Often due to excellent policies, due diligence, coaching and other interventions HR has managed to avert a situation that could cost the business a great deal of money or damage their reputation but once again some HR professionals report that this is not always recognised.

If CEO’s are looking for a Director who is commercial and strategic as stated in the March issues of People Management in an article called ‘Secrets of HR Head Hunters’, then HR needs to demonstrate that this is the case. One of the comments made by a delegate at the event was that it is was difficult to gain access to the board to demonstrate your business acumen. A recommendation from another delegate was to:

  • Build a relationship with the CEO outside of the business context
  • Challenge when necessary e.g. making sure we anchor the core values of the business
  • Don’t be risk averse
  • Build trust

It is important that HR understands the whole business not just the people side of things, so demonstrate an understanding of:

  1. Customer satisfaction
  2. Profit margins
  3. Logistics
  4. Distribution.

The final area was around personal credibility – the skills and knowledge required by an ideal leader in order to influence and engage successfully with internal and external stakeholders.

HR needs to be visible throughout the business, build internal networks and have that face to face contact. Too often HR who are supposed to be focused on the ‘people’ side of things is cloistered behind an office door busily focusing on analysing data. That is part of our role; however building a connection with people in the business is extremely rewarding and beneficial. Laura Guttfield who is the HR Business partner at ITN productions is being mentored by the Chief finance officer Bryan Martin she says “HR doesn’t just start and end with people. It stretches across all areas of the business”.

I would like to thank CIPD Lancashire for inviting me to speak at the Life of HR Lancashire CIPD Conference and Exhibition. It was an extremely successful event which I thoroughly enjoyed, thanks everyone for your positive feedback.

References have been taken for this blog from:
The DNA of an Ideal HR Director by HAYS recruitment and CIPD, copyright HAY plc 2014
People Management Magazine March 2017

“Effective people management and development is essential in supporting productivity, effective skills utilisation, innovation and growth.” Peter Cheese, Chief Executive, CIPD

3 Top Tips for Driving Performance

In order to be productive it is important that managers drive performance within their team. Often a team’s performance is hampered by lack of clarity and direction. Here are my top 3 tips for driving performance and ultimately increasing productivity!

  1. Personalisation

    Create an internal ‘brand’ which draws a line in the sand regarding the past and agree the working methodology for the future! Branding can create leverage and team spirit. The brand should demonstrate the behaviours that the organisation expects from its staff and should have an internal focus as opposed to an external one encouraging employees to get involved and be part of it. An exercise that would get all staff involved would be to create a list of the emotions and adjectives surrounding your brand, then allow your staff to assist in refining the list. Your brand personality will inform all the decisions and form your visual identity for the future.
  2. Strengthen Leadership

    “Leadership is an activity, not a personality or a position”. This is taken from Fifteen Lessons on Leadership from the Video Arts film about Jamie Oliver taking 15 young people and training them to become chefs. The five key lessons which he shares are:
    • Lead the way
    • Show them how
    • Believe in them
    • Deal with it
    • Learn and adapt
    Managers and leaders should be role models to staff by embodying the values and beliefs of the organisation. They need to set the standards they expect and live and breathe the values. Problems that arise should be dealt with promptly and managers need to be consistent and, of course, they need to learn and adapt.
  3. Provide a support framework

    Where people are falling short of expectations for whatever reason there needs to be a series of support mechanisms. They may include coaching; mentoring; learning and development programmes or stress and emotional support.

    Mentoring is a fantastic tool that can boost performance. Mentoring in the workplace can describe the relationship in which a more experienced colleague uses his or her greater knowledge and understanding of the work or workplace to support the development of a more junior or inexperienced member of staff. But there is also reverse mentoring where the junior member of staff may have a skill e.g. the use of technology, where they mentor the more mature member of staff to increase their knowledge of social media.

    Pulling these together, creating an internal brand, having strong leadership and providing development opportunities will boost staff performance and productivity!

We are pleased to announce that our CEO Olive Strachan has been selected as an Export Champion 2016 to represent the UKTI NW (this initiative is unique to the North West). The first Export Champions were recruited for 2013, and have done a great job spreading the word about the benefits of international trade.

As a region, we in the North West need to sell more products and services overseas, and Olive is determined to encourage and support as many companies as possible to take up the export challenge. Here at OSR, we want to ensure that people know about the opportunities of exporting and the important UKTI North West does. The team alongside Olive are really looking forward to the challenges of 2016 and advocating the excellent work of the UKTI.

We at OSR will be offering courses to support the exporting initiative, including Cultural Sensitivity - A Guide to the Business Culture of the Gulf. This programme will assist UK companies wishing to trade in Gulf markets. It will provide each business with a good knowledge of cultural values and beliefs, as well as essential business etiquette. This course has been developed by experts who have worked and completed business negotiations and traded in the Gulf region. It will arm any professional with the key knowledge required to do business in the Gulf. The programme fits right in with the following OSR Values:

  • Inspiration - Inspiring others to reach their potential
  • Quality - Striving for excellence
  • Passion - Being committed to giving the best we can
  • Integrity - Being authentic at all times
  • Community - Giving something back
  • Collaboration - Providing specialist knowledge

2016 looks like it will be a busy year for OSR, and Olive's dedication and passion shine through at all times. As she steps up to tackle her new responsibilities, she is determined to make exporting great!

World of Opportunity Awaits

Earlier this month I was privileged to be part of the line-up of speakers for the UKTI North West ‘spotlight on the Middle East’ event in Runcorn. This event was specifically to help businesses to understand and take advantage of the opportunities available in the Middle East. This is a topic in the first issue of People Management Middle East. Peter Cheese Chief Executive; CIPD mentions that he believes that HR can make a huge difference in the Middle East. Bearing this in mind the CIPD now have offices in Dubai. They have increased their presence on the ground over the past year hosting several networking events including Peter Cheese speaking at the Annual HR Summit in Bahrain.

Having had the pleasure of working with UKTI North West for a number of years being part of their Passport to Export programme and having availed myself of their excellent services on numerous occasions I find them invaluable and would recommend UKTI to any organisations that operates globally. At the Runcorn event Clive Drinkwater, Julian Birchett, Sandra Thornber and the team organised an interesting and informative experience for all the attendees.

It was an event that I thoroughly enjoyed and found extremely beneficial. Emma Parsons from the Bahrain Embassy gave an informative presentation on living and working in Bahrain offering some excellent hints and tips together with pertinent contacts. Glenn Cooper of ATG Access took us through his journey of building an international business focusing on Saudi Arabia and Iraq, the highs and lows but also sharing the benefit of his experience. Diana from The English Manner shared her experience of working in the United Arab Emirates. As one of the speakers I shared Olive Strachan Resources and my experience of working in Qatar and Bahrain since 2004.

As a speaker on the day but also having the opportunity to listen to other speaker’s one of the key messages that was reinforced time and time again was regarding ‘Cultural Sensitivity’. It is vital to:

Complete your research:
  • Explore and immerse yourself in the culture
  • Learn the laws and the social etiquette
  • Try to learn some of the language – I always learn how to say good morning in the country I am working in.
  • Understand economic drivers and future plans e.g. there is a drive from an almost total reliance on oil and gas to a sustainable future as knowledge and innovation led markets.
Build a personal brand:
  • Have a key differentiator
  • Present yourself well
  • Dress/speak appropriately
  • Have an area of expertise
‘Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.’ Jeff Bezos, Founder Amazon

Know your social media channels:

Know Your  Social Media Channels

So it is vital that your organisation has a social media presence or you will be missing out on a large and lucrative market.

Build your network:

In the Middle East there is a big emphasis on recommendations and being well thought of is more important than being widely known.

Having a previous client refer you to a future one is the most effective manner of creating a presence.

If you are part of a trade or professional body this is a great way of making contact.

I am a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and the UKTI are both excellent methods of making contact with international clients. If you attend the annual CIPD conference in Manchester there were many international organisations who were also in attendance and the UKTI have many trade missions that facilitate introductions to business contacts.


Statistics from CIPD People Management magazine for the Middle East state that 37% of Middle East organisations plan to increase spending on employee training.

Women entrepreneurs are forging ahead in the Middle East and I have first-hand experience of this. A few years ago when I worked in Oman delivering a Springboard session to women entrepreneurs I was impressed by the variety of businesses and the amount of savvy professional women running their own businesses.

In addition, the penetration of smartphones in the Middle East is amongst the highest in the world!

As I previously mentioned having worked in the Middle East for 10 years I would recommend that we grasp the opportunity to work there. I have made some lovely friends who I am in contact with on a regular basis either in person or by using social media. The generosity and kindness I have received has been wonderful.

If you would like any further details about working in the Middle East or to attend our Cultural Sensitivity programme. Call me on: Office : 0161 209 3950, Mobile: 07739 763 750

Having worked in a professional environment since the beginning of my career there has been a lot of change in the way organisations and individuals do business together. We were not encouraged to share information or work with others, we were told to; Go out there! Close that deal! Make it happen! This was reflected in your PDR’s when you would often be asked the question ‘what have you achieved?’ What added value have you brought to this organisation through your individual effort?

Fast forward to today and how things have changed! The word collaboration or being collaborative is part of most competency frameworks, with employees being encouraged to demonstrate that they are collaborating not only with colleagues within their business but with other organisations that may complement what they do. We are encouraged to increase our visibility through communication and influencing skills.

I have been on the Manchester Branch of the CIPD for many years and the values of the CIPD are around;


Which stand for:
  • Purposeful
  • Agile
  • Collaborative
  • Expert
Once again that word Collaborative features as part of the values they hold dear.

As the CEO and founder of Olive Strachan Resources the word collaborate is a call to action. To be collaborative we have to reach out to others and demonstrate the business benefits of working together. In October of this year I experienced collaboration at its best. On 6th October we collaborated with TLT Solicitors to organise The Olive Branch networking event for professional business women. The event involved professional women sitting together to plan an event that would inform, interest and inspire people to come along and give up their valuable time.

TLT were gracious enough to host the event and provide us with a beautiful venue together with a delicious healthy lunch which was extremely popular. The event was in two parts, eating for maximum brain health and managing and retaining your talent. The feedback was extremely positive with everyone saying how worthwhile the event was and they had found it very beneficial. I was also asked ‘when the next event would take place’.

The second successful collaboration was with Hays recruitment specialist who were kind enough to host the CIPD HR Leaders event on 8th October. This was a breakfast event and Chris Maguire the Editor of Insider magazine gave us an insight into the world of newspapers and the changes he had observed over the years. It was rewarding to see a variety of organisations network over coffee and croissants. This event also involved Hay’s inviting along some of their clients who are HR Leaders to network with CIPD Chartered Fellows.

The feedback was fantastic and everyone had appreciated the opportunity to meet other North West businesses and enjoyed sharing insights into current issues. A benchmark of a good event is when an hour after the event has finished, there are still people sitting there reluctant to leave.

What are the benefits of collaborating?
  • We bring people together who would normally never meet in the scheme of things.
  • We learn from each other, each person has a different view point and methodology
  • We form new friendships and links that could be life changing
  • We learn new skills
  • We grow our business
  • We raise our profile in the business world and I could go on and on…
What should you do?
  • If you haven’t already then add collaboration to your marketing and PR plan.
  • Look for organisations that complement your own.
  • Clarify the outcomes of the collaboration so that there is no ambiguity
  • Have planning meetings so that on the day it runs smoothly with each person understanding their role and their contribution to the event.
  • Review and evaluate so that you can make any improvements next time.
Social Media

Use Social media to create some excitement around the event and raise awareness; we made use of twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. It is very important to liaise with the organisations you are collaborating with so that you have a clear and consistent message.

Big NO NO’s

If you are using a speaker always see them in action before you use them and clarify that if they are good enough their product or service will speak for themselves. The lasting impression is how good your service or product is and NOT a big sales pitch. There is nothing worse than taking time out to go to an event when the speaker does not divulge the information you expect to be imparted. Instead they give you a teaser then proceed to ask you to view their website or read their book or register on their next event costing x amount so you will hear the rest!!

There you have it! So go ahead, collaborate! Share! Enjoy. I felt a sense of pride and achievement at both of my events this week and plan many more! If you feel you would like to work with OSR on future events email olive@olivestrachan.com

Olive Strachan profile

Olive Stracahan is the founder of Olive Strachan Resources, established in 1998 and based in Manchester, United Kingdom. Since setting up her own consultancy, Olive has delivered training that makes an impact all over the world. OSR creates bespoke solutions for any size of business, delivers cost-effective open programmes, and provides specialist advice for companies that do not have a dedicated in-house HR resource. 

Olive is an International Management Consultant, Expert Trainer, Motivational Speaker  and Executive Coach who started her career in the Recruitment industry working as a manager and coach for Reed Employment, Blue Arrow and Addeco.  Olive then pursued a career with Video Arts Training, establishing their first learning resource centre in Manchester. In essence, Olive has been developing Managers for over 25 years. 

Working in over 20 countries has given Olive the experience and understanding of International Business. This experience, combined with a Masters Degree in Human Resources Management, ensures that she is able to understand the issues that face organisations. Olive has travelled extensively and is an experienced facilitator; her main niche incorporates and develops managers, directors and working with individuals to reach their full potential. 

Olive Strachan has received all kinds of awards and accolades for her work as a training consultant. Many different organisations and institutions have acknowledged Olive’s achievements, and her twin talents for training and business coaching continue to earn recognition from all corners of the globe, including awards for:

  • Showcase Volunteer CIPD PACE Award 2014
  • One of the most influential Women in Business in the North West 2013/2014
  • The EMBF North West award for International Business
  • Recognised by the Worldwide Who's Who

Olive has worked with national organisations including Astra Zeneca, The British Council and Manchester City Council, Keele University, Packaging Automation, Irwell Valley Housing, Brand Additions, and international organisations within sectors such as pharmaceuticals, the financial sector, retail, banking, and education. She was also involved in developing the volunteers for the Commonwealth Games when it was held in Manchester. Olive has recently achieved an ILM Level 7 in Coaching and Learning, and she is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. An ex-Chair, of the CIPD Manchester Branch, Olive is presently an HR Leader for the Branch and a CIPD Council Representative.

Welcome to our new Olive Strachan website. Olive Strachan Resources began in 1998 and was founded by Olive Strachan FCIPD providing training and development services.

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