AXA employees choose Alzheimer’s Research UK as their charity partner


By Gary Cuthbertson | Tuesday 19 May 2015

AXA employees chose Alzheimer’s Research UK as their charity partner from a long list of 15 causes. Six shortlisted charities were invited to make their case to a panel of charity champions from around the business. It was that panel’s task to select which three charities would be put forward to make their case to the whole workforce.

Alzheimer’s Research UK came out top in the employee vote. While it’s difficult to establish exactly why people voted the way they did, there were many stories shared by employees about the impact dementia has had on individuals, their families and friends.

There is no doubt that AXA employees believed that in supporting Alzheimer’s Research UK, their fundraising efforts could make a real difference in the fight to defeat dementia. So the partnership is now in full swing and I genuinely believe that it’s a partnership, where both parties gain huge benefits.

My responsibility to develop the employees of the largest insurance company in the world is a challenging one! I’m constantly looking at different ways to motivate and develop our people to reach their full potential. I could sit them in a class room and teach them from a text book. However, I believe that people benefit more from practical application and self-learning.

It’s with this in mind that I set our Talent population a simple challenge … ‘to raise as much money as possible for Alzheimer’s Research UK’.

Picture19Sounds simple … how’s it related to their day job? … what’s this got to do with development? Over the last three years, our Talent groups have raised over £100,000 for charitable causes. Business benefits? For the groups to succeed, they are exposed to so many situations and opportunities, which take them out of their comfort zones and challenge them.

I’ve also seen relationships between AXA and our partners grow as we involve them in many of our activities. A great example from last year … a group decided to ‘kidnap’ the CEO and hold them to ransom! A brave thing to do. The planning required to carry out the ‘arrest’ and involve 1,600 employees in raising enough money to have the CEO released was amazing. To have the entire 1,600 population working together in various ways, to raise money was a sight to behold.

imageThe benefits of employee engagement cannot be underestimated as well. How great that a CEO and their management team was involved. This demonstrates to our employees that AXA is truly an employee and development focused company … which supports charity and appreciates the benefits of having fun in the office! As individuals, the employees learn and develop many business skills that they’ll be able to use in the work place e.g. Negotiation, influencing, communication, budget management, creative thinking, to name a few.

It opens up many opportunities for employees to network across our various sites in the UK. They get to know fellow employees that they may never get the opportunity to meet if it wasn’t for such activities. This helps them to make new friends and build their contacts. Contacts that can support them with issues they may face in their roles. Many of the employees have also undertaken personal challenges. These have helped them to exceed their comfort zones and become much stronger and confident people.

As I have such a passion to see people reach their full potential, our link with Alzheimer’s Research UK is a blessing. I’ve seen so many people develop, build their confidence and go on to be leaders within AXA after being involved in charitable events. I can truly say that this is a partnership that benefits both Alzheimer’s Research UK, AXA and the employees and I look forward to our continuing relationship.

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About the author

Gary Cuthbertson

Gary is a Learning & Development Partner, employed by AXA (The largest insurance company in the world). He has spent the last 15 years following his passion of developing people to achieve their full potential.

His experience and abilities have been honed by being an Associate member of the Association for Coaching, attaining his Certificate in Training Practice with the CIPD as well as being a certified practioner of Insights and Strength Deployment Inventory Psychometric Assessment tools.

He’s supported by his devoted wife and they live in Bolton, North West of England.