Ondřej’s growing empathy makes him a better team member

A Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Development from Lancaster University Management School helped Ondřej Kalenský grow as an engineer and a team player.

Ondřej, a Design Engineer for GVS Filter Technology UK, in Morecambe – a company who produce face masks, a business which has seen a massive uptick in production as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic – has a technical background in engineering, and wanted to develop his communication skills and better understand leadership in the workplace.

He works with teams across GVS’s global span on designing new products and developing and changing existing products, as well as externally with suppliers and clients. He recognised the need to grow as a leader within these teams, and Lancaster’s PG Certificate gave him that opportunity.

“I like learning about new things, and I wanted to give it a go,” says Ondřej. “One of my closest colleagues was already taking part in a programme at Lancaster, and this was the perfect opportunity for me to do the same.

“I’m a mechanical design engineer, so some of the things on the course were completely new, things I had never considered before. It was very enlightening to see there were things I should be looking at – different negotiating methods, emotional intelligence and how people think about things – rather than just focusing on facts.”

Helped by a strong peer network that forms a key part of the programme, and guided by mentor and tutor Kath Houston, a Teaching Fellow in Lancaster’s Centre for Executive Training and Development (CeTAD), Ondřej feels that the course has helped him across his role with GVS.

He completed modules in Negotiating and Influencing Skills; Planning and Controlling Projects; Understanding Leadership and Management; Collaborative and Team Working; Creative Thinking and Problem Solving; and Personal Learning and Development (PLD), using CeTAD’s flexible learning structure to devise a PG programme that best worked for him.

“The negotiating module was my favourite,” says Ondřej. “It was interesting to consider different theories, learn how to understand the needs of the other party and, based on that, strive for a deal that works for everyone. I found it really applicable for my job.

“I really enjoyed the workshops, the chance to get together with other professional people, talk to them about their experiences, and see how things work in different companies. You see how it works, and how it could work for you. In the PLD module, in particular, we had a good network of people who provided support.”

As for how it has benefited his personal development, he adds: “It has helped me to see myself from a different perspective. It highlighted that I am low on empathy and some other specific areas I needed to work on, so this really gave me direction on what to improve.

“My biggest improvement has been with empathy: I learned to communicate better, and understand how I can collaborate better in a team. The course helped me discover that how I think of a team and how others think of a team are not the same. It has helped me to be more efficient in communication, and improved my overall performance and contentment in my role.”