Macmillan Cancer Support: Transforming the L&D function to align with strategic goals

Macmillan Cancer Support is one of the UKs most recognised brands providing a wide range of services, advice, advocacy and accessible support to people, health authorities and government, all focused on dealing with cancer. The charity is one of the largest in the UK and Macmillan nurses are some of the most consistently applauded people in the land. The charity has a head office in London and offices around the UK.


The head of HR approached one of Directors wit a request to help him transform and reposition the provision of L&D across Macmillan, as part of a wider re-positioning of the HR function. The goal was to research, enquire within the company and develop and L&D model that supported the charity deliver its bold strategic vision.


Firstly, we conducted interviews with senior leaders and focus groups across the business to find out what people thought of L&D (and HR) and its services and how they believed the function could add value to them in their roles going forward. We reviewed existing learning provision and conducted a review of the existing L&D team and its capability.

Our recommendations included repositioning the L&D function more into the Organisational Development space and that team members operate more as internal consultants rather than traditional trainers. This would allow them to influence projects earlier and advise on culture change as part of key strategic priorities.

We coached the team members and advised on recruiting a new Head of Learning and OD. We advised on reviewing and streamlining the learning resources, managing internal stakeholders differently and promoting a fresh proposition that was more focused and targeted at key strategic priorities, including a nationwide leadership development programme being delivered by another external provider. We facilitated whole team sessions with the HR Senior Management team as it too went through some reshaping and repositioning. This included team and individual coaching.


The HR Senior Management is operating more effectively as a leadership team. The HR and L&D team’s standing in the business has been enhanced considerably. HR sub teams and the L&D team have a adopted new ways of working and a new HR Charter generated that is being widely applauded by the business as a whole. A new L&D leader has been successfully brought in and the team members have expanded their roles, learned new skills and confidence and are now actively sought out and engaged at an early stage in Macmillan wide projects.


“Your advice and support has helped us focus on what's important for us in HR and L&D as we in turn support the business more proactively to achieve our plans.

We've raised our profile, repositioned ourselves within the charity and the team is really buzzing with confidence as the feedback from our stakeholders has been very encouraging.

As managers we've looked at the ways we work and there's a new dynamic and openness now that has enabled us to improve performance.”

Tony Jackson, Head of HR MacMillan Cancer Support