Pathway to People Management

Areas of expertise


Amec Foster Wheeler found themselves in a period of rapid change in the years following the acquisition of Foster Wheeler. The takeover meant an integration of cultures and processes.

It was also a time with a shifting industry landscape and a difficult economic climate. This meant that the organisation needed strong leaders to take it forward.

The challenge

Amec Foster Wheeler’s managers have skills in project management, technical expertise, and consultancy. Yet many are lacking experience in managing people. The strategic re-positioning made their people management skills more important than ever. With 15,000 managers at Amec Foster Wheeler, it was an opportunity for growth too enticing to ignore.

Initial testing revealed that the managers at Amec Foster Wheeler needed something succinct. They needed a course that could convey the delicate variety of approaches they would need to take in minimal time. A challenge indeed.

At the heart of any Amec Foster Wheeler manager’s role is managing people, as highlighted in the organisation’s values and behaviours. Being able to manage the intricacies of a complex engineering project is one thing. The addition of irrational human behaviours and motivations requires a whole different skillset. Thankfully, Saffron are experts at in behavioural science, and we could step in to upskill both new and experienced managers.

Why Saffron?

Amec Foster Wheeler knew that Saffron could provide a holistic approach that engaged with employees. This wasn’t an isolated intervention. Saffron was able to provide the total service that would lead employees to become leaders themselves. We’d recently completed a sustainability project for Amec Foster Wheeler, so they were familiar with our approach. They also knew of our other work guiding leaders within other large organisations. This includes our recent award-nominated project management simulation.

Our approach

Saffron provided the total service required to guide Amec Foster Wheeler’s employees on the Pathway to people management. We began with expert consultancy and development of a crowd-sourced, targeted learning strategy. Then came branding of the courses and Cornerstone LMS to make the learners feel at home.

Finally, we curated a vast library of pre-existing content and integrated it with our new bespoke creations.

Saffron’s agile, modular approach prevented the course from becoming overwhelming. This complemented our trademark attention to user experience and replayability. We used branching, consequential video interactions across a character-driven narrative. This lent the course the emotional impact that interacting with real employees would have. The end product was a course that was expansive yet specific to learners’ needs.

The course was brimming with content yet digestible in the small chunks of time available to the learners. Organised into five subject areas, learners were able to create their own learning path. They could choose from 19 optional modules that were specific to each subject area. The course focused on creating simulated but realistic situations. Learners could practice what they had learnt and consolidate it with takeaway resources. The ability to practice in a safe environment taught best practice and built confidence in the leaner to apply their learning when managing their team.


Despite a staged rollout of the different modules, initial uptake and feedback has been beyond expectations. There were 140 completions within the first 3 days alone of the first subject released. Currently, a third of all of Amec Foster Wheeler’s management-level employees have taken the course.

Regular feedback and user forums have been encouraged as part of the team’s metric-collection. One manager claimed in their anonymised feedback to have “learnt more in 45 minutes that in 3 days of face-to-face learning”. As the modules continue to be rolled out the impressive results look set to continue.

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