FAST food giant McDonald's Vice-President of People returned to Manchester Metropolitan University Business School last week to launch a new centre specialising in people management and development.
David Fairhurst, who graduated from the University in 1996 with an MA in Strategic Human Resources Management, joined Geoff Armstrong Director General of the Chartered Institute for Professional Development (CIPD) as a guest speaker at the opening of the Centre for Professional Personnel and Development (CPPD).
The Centre will link HR academics and professionals in the North West and offer training, continuing professional development, consultancy and short courses across the region and beyond.
Mr Fairhurst, who will chair the Centre’s advisory board, said he was looking forward to returning to the scene of his studies: "It was Manchester Metropolitan University that acted as the springboard for my career and I hope I'll be able to share with them not only my own experience as a HR professional, but also 30 years of outstanding HR practice I've found at McDonald's.
Speaking ahead of the launch at the Business School's Aytoun Building, he said that the Centre would provide a "bridge" between academia and cutting edge practice.
"For most organisations today the primary source of competitive advantage is people but, unlike machinery and processes they must be inspired and developed, and treated with respect and dignity," he said.
"Just as engineers, process specialists and IT professionals have had their turn at the forefront of organisational change, it is now HR professionals who hold the key to success or failure. That’s why it’s so important to build links between academia and the profession."
Mr Armstrong added his backing to the Centre: "People management and development is rapidly emerging as the critical differentiator between successful and less successful organisations," he said.
"This Centre at MMU Business School will demonstrate that people management is routed in a systematically learnable body of knowledge and practice which is every bit as important as the other disciplines of management."
The MMU Centre is lead by Sue Shaw, Head of the Business School's Human Resource Management and Organisational Behaviour Division.
"We have more than 60 years experience of working with HR professionals, which is reflected in our designation as a CIPD Centre of Excellence," she said. "This new Centre enhances our reputation as a provider of high quality training, consultancy and applied research, and we’re looking forward to working even more closely with the profession."