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Online Communication Skills Training at Brunel

Until fairly recently Brunel’s tens of thousands of employees were mainly classically trained. This traditional approach set the organization thinking: could it be done differently? The outplacement company made the decision last year: in the future training would also be offered online, mostly based on classical training courses. Patrick Kostwinder: ‘E-learning enables our people to acquire the knowledge they need at any given moment.’

Patrick Kostwinder is head trainer at Brunel, a leading player in the (inter)national recruitment and placement of specialists in Engineering, IT, Finance, Legal, Life Sciences and Marketing & Communication. Globally approximately 13,000 professionals are active in more than 35 countries on behalf of Brunel.

Training in communication skills is essential for a company in which the capabilities of its people are its distinctive strength. Brunel wanted to make employee training more flexible, in order to react quicker to new customer requirements. Brunel needed to provide training in advisory skills and sales skills - and everything that goes with that. It was also important to make learning not only effective, but also attractive.

Working together with Cirquest, Design Thinking was applied to set up a completely new online learning program for communication skills, in a new learning environment. Now Brunel employees can acquire the knowledge they need, whenever they need it. Online training mostly precedes the live training sessions, which are focused on communication and interaction. These are high-impact sessions, with time for practice and for participants to challenge each other.


  • A customized, online training program, completely tailored to meet the learning needs of both company and employees
  • Mobile First solution: both the learning environment and e-learning content are accessible via mobile devices
  • Participants learn from each other and share their experiences during the live training sessions
  • An innovative interpretation of good employership

Why was a new learning approach necessary?
‘We observed that our clients’ problems, challenges and needs were changing increasingly quickly. This requires fast and flexible reactions from our people. Training in communication skills is therefore essential. That is where we can make a difference. Which is why we want people with good consultancy and sales skills - and everything that goes with that: the abilities to interview, negotiate, coach and conduct business conversations. The traditional learning approach, which we had used in the past, had seen better days. What we asked ourselves was whether the process could be more enjoyable and more flexible.’

Why did you request the help of Cirquest?
‘Our requirements were challenging: we understood our problem, but we did not know which solution was appropriate, or precisely what we were hoping to find. This turned out to be a difficult issue in our search for a suitable partner and caused a number of parties to withdraw. But not Cirquest - a subsidiary of Schouten & Nelissen and a specialist in e-learning. They demonstrated understanding of the fact that we still had to evolve our thinking and that we were busy exploring new ground. Cirquest is not only a coaching supplier, but also an equal partner that helped us navigate this process together.’

What methodology did you choose for the development phase?
‘As a project of this size was also something new for Cirquest, it was decided to apply Design Thinking methodology: jointly thinking the project through and setting it up. This led to many interim sessions and evaluation points.’


How did the collaboration go?
‘As a result of our close cooperation Cirquest came to know our DNA and culture very well. And because we have worked together so intensively, there are few surprises in what Cirquest delivers. This approach enables us to work well together - and to generate good solutions for issues that may initially be problematic, like misunderstandings about training course content. And when you know each other that well you can take action early, to clarify things and manage expectations.’

What makes this learning approach special?
‘We have developed something unique: a customized online training program, totally tailored to the learning needs of the company and its employees. The training program is focused on mobile first, so that our people have the freedom to switch access to the learning content as they choose - from mobile to tablet to laptop. This means they can choose where, when and via which device they want to learn. And everything they have learned is always to hand.’

More information?
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