City Index Case Study

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"My job is to ensure effective quality assurance for all software. In doing this, it is important for me to understand the progress made by each of the teams (by acting as line- manager to the QA testers) and to make sure that everyone is motivated to do their job effectively."

City Index's Quality Assurance Manager enhances skills at LCT to enable more effective supervision of staff.

City Index is a world-leading brokerage firm which provides an online trading platform for investors to buy and sell financial instruments (tradable assets). City index provides the software and technology to enable investors to undertake spread betting, Contract For Difference (CFD) trading, and Foreign Exchange (FOREX) trading. Established in 1983, City Index has grown to become a household name, with over 400 employees worldwide and offices in the UK, Singapore, China, Dubai, and Australia. More than two million trades are carried out each month, across fifty countries, using the City Index trading platform.

The Delegate

The function of the IT department within City Index is, in essence, three-fold:

  • To maintain existing software and make sure that it is both up-to-date and works effectively.
  • To make relevant and necessary enhancements to existing software to improve the experience for users.
  • To develop new software and ensure that City Index continues to lead the way as an online trading platform.

 

Working in the IT department, and as a part of the process of software lifecycle development, the Quality Assurance / Software Testing team is responsible for testing software to make sure that it works as required. There are 20-25 people in 8 sub-teams testing different pieces of software at any one time. The Quality Assurance manager has the responsibility for overall Quality Assurance. His role is to manage the QA department and includes duties that are traditionally associated with the HR function:

  • Overseeing quality assurance.
  • Managing the QA testers (the person who is testing the software) in each of the different software sub-teams.
  • Hiring staff.
  • Managing performance.
  • Making improvements tot he way we do things.
  • Automating tasks.
  • Business process improvements to quality assurance.
  • Resolving people issues.
  • Formalising training requirements.
  • Managing large projects.

 

The Quality Assurance Manager , having worked in a technical capacity before promotion to management, was conscious of the importance of developing strong people management skills. Having had no

formal training, he initially turned to popular books on the subject. However, he eventually turned to LCT to provide the requisite training through a short and intensive course:

"I’ve been quite a technical person in my career and I’ve also worked as a consultant for several years. This transition into a manager has been for the last two and a half years but I’ve never really had any proper [formal] training in that. There are quite a few areas within my management style on which I have been trying to improve by reading books or going through material but I still felt the pace at which I was learning by going through material was not as quick as I really needed to be doing. So I thought it good if I could take a step back, go for a week off, focus on some skills and get some professional training. I could then go back and reflect and then maybe make some changes to my style."

The Course

The five day training course she attended was designed for public sector officials with responsibility for the state management of oil and gas resources, the course covered:

  • Financial management and cost control systems
  • Effective budget preparation and management of expenditure
  • Cash-flow management and forecasting
  • How to interpret key financial statements and elements within the balance sheet
  • Financial ratios and analysis
  • Global treasury models and their structure and management
  • How to structure return, income, and defensive portfolios
  • The roles and impacts of financial instruments and traded options over time
  • Risk management and minimisation 
  • Financial modelling and scenario planning

 

It was an intensive one-to-one course facilitated by an experienced and personable training consultant who has worked extensively in finance and the oil and gas industry. Consequently, the participant felt very much at ease during the training: “I really liked the consultant. He was friendly and knowledgable.” The fact that the course was one-to-one meant that discussions could be tailored to the individual needs of the delegate, making the training much more relevant and effective. Asked how significant this was, she commented: “I really liked the consultant. He was friendly and knowledgable.” The fact that the course was one-to-one meant that discussions could be tailored to the individual needs of the delegate, making the training much more relevant and effective. Asked how significant this was, she commented: “I think it was really useful. We were able to cover aspects that are particularly important to my job role.” The initial stages of the training focused on the delegate herself to enable the consultant to understand her job role, responsibilities, challenges, and what she wanted to learn from the course. Once known, it took the form of consultancy, with instructor-facilitated discussions using real data. “We had financial statements and went through what the numbers said to us, what we can work out (and how), and what it shows us.

In order to ensure effective learning the consultant blended theory with practice in two ways:

1. Firstly, case studies were provided in order to help demonstrate how organisations have adopted various forms of best practice.

"The real world practical examples were really informative and interesting. we looked at different organisations to see what they did, where they succeeded, anything they did wrong, and the results of their activities."

2. Secondly, when it came to important calculations, the consultant provided practical, scenario-based, problem-solving exercises where the participant had to apply what she had learned in order to find solutions.

"The exercises where I had to interpret data to obtain a result were really useful."

The Result

Following the training, the QA Manager felt he had developed as a manager in a number of key areas:

  • Improved confidence. Over the course of the training he had learned the importance of confidence in the workplace, particularly when assuming the role of supervisor or manager. “I’m going to reflect on this and return with greater confidence which should help me in carrying out my responsibilities.”
  • Assertiveness. Having spent a day understanding what assertiveness really means, and its importance in the workplace, the delegate felt comfortable incorporating it into his management style so that he would be able to give more effective feedback to the staff he supervises: “I felt there were a few changes I could make there.”
  • Positivity and motivation. This was also a key learning as he came to understand the profound link between positivity and motivation on both yourself – and on other: “Usually I am very positive but I realised I could be even more positive. If I’m motivated automatically, I can motivate others.”
  • Effective people management. This was regarded as one of the most important objectives, and a skill-set that he was keen to develop: “I asked the consultant for some feedback in this area and he was able to give me some good guidance. I now have ideas to take with me on my return to the workplace.”
  • Time management was an unexpected avenue of growth for the QA Manager. Left unchecked, many daily activities can end up stealing valuable time away from more important work. Following this module, which focused on prioritising and organising according to goals, he came away with the ability to view activities through a time-management sense. “I have also learned there are times when I need to close my emails as they are a distraction to the important work at hand.”
  • Insight – the course also gave him greater self-awareness. Discussions with the consultants made him aware of the importance of not allowing emotions to interfere with the logic of the task: “I knew there was a problem in that area but I could not specifically say what it was until now. That’s something I need to practice.”

 

Taken together, these changes amounted to a larger change in management style that the participant will take back with him to the workplace. With training complete, he summed up his experience at LCT: 

"I'm really happy with the course. I will definitely recommend LCT to my friends and colleagues. As for the future, It's all in my hands now really."
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