This case study profiles action learning at Eurest, Mid-Atlantic Region, USA and highlights the learning outcomes of Eurest-GULL participants who reported back in September 2008 and in May 2010. Eurest is a member of Compass Group North America, a leader in foodservice management and support services with associates throughout the USA, Mexico and Canada. The parent company is UK-based Compass Group PLC, which was named as the world’s 20th largest employer by Fortune magazine in 2008. Launched in 1996 to serve the Business & Industry sector, Eurest marked its first year of operations in North America by winning the IBM account. This was the largest contract ever awarded in the history of the industry. Since then, Eurest has grown rapidly -- adding new clients, and major national contracts.

Header photo by: Renée S


1. Eurest-GULL highlights, September 2008
In September 2008, a group of Eurest line employees and managers met together to reflect on their experiences of the GULL system. They reported significant personal, professional and organizational benefits arising from sustained use of a narrative style diary format. All the participants had started their journey by completing a personal learning statement so that they could review their learning needs and then customize their own agenda for learning. The group cited examples of how they had been able to develop skills in self analysis, self help (augmented by a learning coach/web of support) reflection and professional development (e.g. new and modified behaviours, skills and enhanced team working). Furthermore, all the participants said that they now have a better understanding of themselves and what they need to accomplish in order to progress their respective careers at Eurest. They also reported greater self-belief, confidence, enthusiasm for their work and self motivation.

"We have chosen to be part of a huge opportunity which may have far reaching implications for the rest of the Group and I feel very fortunate to be part of this at the ground level."

CT (learner initials), B Dip.

This sequence of videos provide learner, leader and sponsor insights and perspectives on the value of establishing a corporate business school, especially for lower paid workers with few (if any) prior qualifications.


Learner case study
I’m happier and more productive at work: "I used to be quite negative and now I look for the positives. The relationships with my co-workers have improved dramatically. We now listen to each others’ suggestions and work more effectively as a team. My co-workers have told me that that I smile much more now than in the past and I have been able to step up the pace at which I work." SW (initials), B Cert.


Leader highlights
In the ‘top 2’ experiences of my career: "The GULL pilot was a ‘top 2’ career experience. From a succession planning standpoint, I learnt more about the people in this room in eight short weeks than I probably would have done in eight long years. You did this in your own time and with the purest of intentions – to learn even more. I see terrific things for each of you – as leaders of tomorrow and as future GULL facilitators so that we can take this process all the way through our entire organization."

Nancy Arnett, Regional Vice President, Mid Atlantic Region, Eurest, USA.


Sponsor highlights
"Today we are celebrating the passion, spirit, commitment and outcomes that our GULL participants have demonstrated. I am delighted by what you have achieved and excited about all that lies ahead. Our CBS initiative is designed to support the Group’s five dimensions of HR: Attracting, Retaining, Developing, Engaging and Performing. It is clearly working. Thanks to Nancy Arnett and her team, and to Yvonne Brown. They have given their time, commitment and energy to make life better for our people."

Mark Maloney, President, Eastern Region, Eurest, USA.



2. Team members: Learning outcomes
Professional Bachelor Level 2 Certificate (Hospitality Operations)
Five team members reflect on their learning experiences, the outcomes and the benefits of the Eurest-GULL process.


Team member 1
I feel smarter and sharper: "The learning process has enhanced my capabilities by enabling me to try different ways of achieving a better outcome. I can clearly identify changes in my own behaviour. I think I perform more effectively at work, especially in a team. In terms of the future, I feel smarter and sharper. I really do feel that I can and will come out on top." PC (initials), B Cert.



Team member 2
This is very powerful self-help: "You learn a lot about yourself and you learn it from yourself. This is great for Eurest – when you have your people taking care of themselves it generates so much more productivity and it helps with work and life. I know many people who would benefit from this journey – and I’ve been talking about it!" MF (initials), B Cert.



Team member 3
I’m a more confident professional: "I have been able to learn new things and I feel that I am a better professional. I also feel more confident and I now know I can do more. I can think more effectively too and I have (for the first time) been able to help my kids with their homework. They are encouraging me to keep going! – I too want to keep going." IG (initials), B Cert.



Team member 4
I’m better equipped for my new role: "Each person is different and the process has helped me with the transition to a management role. I feel that I am making better decisions at work too and in everyday situations. It gives you the chance to do something important - I wouldn’t have had the time or the opportunity to do it on my own. The learning and the reward (certification) has given me a real boost." AI (initials), B Cert.



Team member 5
I’m better at communicating and motivating: "I am learning from action and reflection and putting into practice – every day – the new things I am learning. The process has also helped me to change my way of communicating with and motivating others. Action learning helps you to see everything more clearly. It will yield benefits for you in this company and also in life." MR (initials), B Cert.



3. Managers: Learning outcomes
Professional Bachelor level 3: Diploma (Hospitality Operations)
Three team leaders reflect on their learning experiences, the outcomes and the benefits of the Eurest-GULL process.


Team leader 1
I’m more confident and ready for the future: "I’m surprised by the change in me – my family have noticed it too. I’m much more confident and ready to embrace the future. I enjoyed the process so much that I couldn’t wait for Nancy’s phone call with feedback on how I did. I could see the Eurest/GULL process working on a big scale ... This could definitely be a great tool for a lot of people." BS (initials), B Dip.



Team leader 2
I’m wiser and better organized: "This process has helped me to become more organized. By reflecting on the past week and forming new solutions to the issues arising, Eurest/GULL is making a big impact on my career and the people around me. I’m not making the same mistakes twice and I’m coming up with better game plans. It can only mean a better future for me and for the company." CT (initials), B Dip.



Team leader 3
I’m a more analytical and effective manager: "I found that by analyzing my actions I can create a positive change. My learning coach was invaluable in helping me to change. As I evaluate my actions, it also helps me to remember the most successful behaviours. This process has enabled me to develop myself and this can only help me to become more valuable to my employer too." KW (initials), B Dip.



4. Eurest-GULL highlights, May 2010

1. Eurest Pfizer | 2. Eurest SAP | 3. Maggie Fisher RVP

In May 2010 several clusters of employees and managers working at two large Eurest contracts in the Philadelphia region (Eurest Pfizer and Eurest SAP) met together and they shared their learning outcomes during a roundtable discussion. Their highlights are contained in the following videos, with a concluding comment from Maggie Fisher, Regional Vice President.

From my perspective, this is inspirational...we were working and interacting with each other in a different way and we can cascade GULL and build stronger teams by helping each other. We hope that you'll continue with the pathway and that you'll bring in some of your co- workers. "

Maggie Fisher, Regional Vice President, Eurest, Mid-Atlantic Region, USA


Mark H Maloney, Eurest Division President, Eastern States, USA has led the Eurest with GULL work for a continous period of 14 years. Mark was convinced that a self-directed action learning process would enable Eurest associates to expand their technical knowledge and develop their personal and professional skills. In 2022, this 16-week programme was adopted by all four Eurest divisions (Eastern, Western, Southern divisions and National accounts) with seven online graduation events in February and seven more in June and July 2022. All at GULL would like to thank Mark for his vision, passion, commitment and leadership – enabling hundreds of Eurest associates to develop themselves and advance their careers with the company.


How can my organization get involved?
Thank you for reading this case study. Do please think about what you can offer and how you might inspire others in your organization to get involved. Together, we can bring hope and opportunity to the many people around the world who do not have access to lifelong learning. GULL works with organizations that share our vision for universal access to learning in the workplace and in the community. If you would like to affiliate with GULL's network movement, please review the 'Affiliation' section at the GULL website - There are no membership fees or other barriers to participation - we'd like to work with you to harness all the skills and abilities that your organization can offer in order to help others to learn, grow and develop. Please note though that GULL does not have the resources to support individual learners and it is for this reason we can only correspond with organizations via their nominated representative(s).


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