David Crabb


David Crabb_cropped

The entrance to Managing Director David’s offices at Cambridge Online is hidden behind trees on the Science Park and has me intrigued. I am impressed with the warm personal welcome from receptionist Nicola who called me by my first name and ushered me to an area to “refresh” myself.  I imagine this is what Business Class on an aeroplane is like!

David is just as welcoming, smartly turned out and at home at the impressive boardroom table. His story is about turning Cambridge Online from loss making to profit and growth during the recession.  Not a unique story, you might think. What is extraordinary is how he did it by transforming a 33 year mind-set and culture of a “take” organisation to an open “nowhere to hide” culture in which anyone with potential can thrive.

Bio – early career in science before switching to corporate sales and people management in the recruitment sector, gifted storyteller who passionately shares his 30 years of working experience to help others be the best they can be, believes in having a balanced and quality business and personal life with 1 diary, Dad to 4 children who come first at the end of his working day.

Why I agree with Jennifer Dean’s nomination of David as a #leadinglight:

  1. He has a strong belief that everyone has talent and helps nurture potential in those who aren’t always aware of it. David has numerous examples of how he does this.  One of the most recent has been to introduce a Career Pathway Framework for 7 of his staff taking them from where they are now to where they want to be with achievable goals along the way.
  2. Froze all salary increases in 2011 when he took over as Managing Director. Each staff member now determines their own career ambitions against risk and reward criteria which are assessed monthly and rewarded accordingly. One person’s salary increased by £10,000 in 1 jump! The resulting autonomy that this approach gives each member of staff means that Nicola on reception has every right to chase a manager to ask “Why haven’t you returned that customer’s call?”
  3. Understands the personal pressures people have, and will look them in the eye to see how they are feeling that day so that he can proactively anticipate their needs.  David has worked in many places where cries for help were not met – he sees this as the single biggest barrier to enabling people to work at their best.  The tangible ways he has helped staff include paying for work visas, ensuring parents take time off to go to sports days and offering company loans up to £10,000 interest free.

People and training that have influenced David:

  • An ex Grenadier Guard who ran a Time management course impressed upon David and other delegates that people do not come to work to be a failure.  As a manager you can’t expect them to leave personal issues at home. What can you do to solve their problems so they can focus and commit to their work?
  • Six Sigma training in his early career at GE Capital made a big impact on David.  He has adapted the discipline successfully to a service industry giving everyone transparency on companywide projects on the company intranet and the mind-set that every small change influences the bigger picture.

David’s nominations for Career Enhancing Attributes:  Be yourself and confident in whom you are, Courage to express your opinions, See beyond the job and look into people’s lives.

Nominated by Jennifer Dean and modelled by Katherine Wiid

If you know someone who has inspired you, why not nominate them as the next #leadinglight? To read about our other #leadinglights, click here.

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