Stories from 25 years of Steps

25 April 2017

In April 2017, Steps celebrates its 25th Anniversary. To launch our year of celebrations, Founding Director Robbie shares some of his favourite moments from the past 25 years…

When the Steps marketing department asked me if I would write a blog for our 25th anniversary year, my first reaction was “What! 25 years? You’re joking!” But it’s true. Where did all that time go? Well, casting my mind back, these are some of the highlights – here we go!

1992 – A motley collection of actors are brought together at Guy’s Hospital Medical School to roleplay patients for the medical students’ communication skills course – meeting on the steps of the hospital. Steps was born. On one occasion I played a man who required cancer treatment. The med student I was role playing with told me, without any preamble or empathy that I needed chemotherapy and all my hair would fall out. I responded by holding my head in my hands and crying. Tearfully I asked “All my hair is going to fall out?. “Yes” replied the med student and then added in a voice ringing with authority, but which was also extremely patronising “Don’t worry. We have a wonderful collection of wigs”. I’m afraid I got the giggles, which I disguised as uncontrollable sobbing. Thankfully Steps was there to help, and I have no doubt that the med student become much more empathetic when delivering bad news.

1997 – Steps exhibited for the first time at the Human Resource Development conference organised by the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development). We were asked to pitch our stand in the newly created Activity Zone. To demonstrate ‘activity’ we acted out scenarios and role-plays, to order, from the suggestions made by the people who visited our stand. We were very popular as everyone experienced our live drama – and we won an award for Best Stand!

2002 – NatWest Bank and HM Treasury sponsored the Inner City 100 awards. The awards recognised the one hundred fastest growing businesses in the UK Inner Cities over the five year period 1997 to 2002 – and Steps came 22nd! The Award Ceremony was hosted by Gordon Brown at Vinopolis in London Bridge and we had an exciting (and alcohol rich) evening!

2007/2008 – Steps pull together and we survive the Credit Crunch. Despite our turnover nose diving, we keep the team intact and make no redundancies. We rode the storm together as only a business with a community feel can. We pulled through!

2010 – We deliver our first programme in India with a combined London and Indian delivery team. One of the Indian associates, Mohan, tells us that we should set up a Steps company in India. We have detailed and exciting discussions over the following months, and Steps India is launched later that year!

2013 – I go on the largest ever Trade Delegation to India fronted by Prime Minister David Cameron. I chat to him on the flight out, and tell him about Steps. He suggests that we should “come and do some drama for the Cabinet” I decide it’s too cheesy to say “But Prime Minister, surely there is enough drama in the Cabinet already!” Robbie wrote a series of blogs about his adventures on the Trade Delegation to India – read Chapter 1 here.

2016 – We win our biggest ever contract from Transport for London. Over a two year period all 26,000 London Bus Drivers and Managers are to attend our Customer Experience Programme. TfL have provided us with a custom made training centre in Blackfriars as the delivery venue – and we employ a full time team of 20 to handle logistics and delivery Steps continues to grow!

And then here we are: 2017. For me, the biggest development over the years is that we now take a multi media approach to providing solutions for our clients. Twenty five years ago we steered clear of producing videos of any sort – our unique selling point was ‘live drama’. Over the years, we’ve wholeheartedly embraced a multi media approach to our learning and development solutions – due to the advances in technology and the increase in number of employees our clients wanted us to reach (thousands!).With the amazing development in media technology, I do not even dare to predict what solutions we will be coming up with even next year, 2018, let alone further in the future!