Designing an award-winning learning programme

The IPA’s CPD Gold award scheme recognises companies that “demonstrate a genuine culture of learning; bettering the professionalism, development and reputation of the industry, enhancing clients’ brands and agencies’ worth as a result.”

Put simply, you have to design a kick-ass development programme that not only helps people to learn and grow, but has a demonstrable ROI. That means proving that our learning efforts resulted in more money for the business.

Our approach

  • Learning that leads to business outcomes: We started by working with the Managing Director and CFO to identify a number of overarching business objectives for the year ahead. Our learning plan listed all the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to help achieve each objective and the learning activities we could design to support the development of these.
  • Building a culture of learning around company values: We wanted to show how the culture of learning we had built around Gravity Road’s core value of curiosity was an essential part of their success.
  • Domains of expertise: We created a framework called GROW that sat behind all development. There were two core GROW pillars which were relevant to everyone in the agency and each department expanded on this framework with their own specific departmental pillars.
  • Clear progression paths and departmental training: Core competencies were then devised around these department pillars, designed to help people understand what is required of them in their role. Departmental training plans were designed around the core competencies.

Learning activity

As you can imagine with a year long programme there’s far too much detail to capture it all here but, as the judges put it, there were: “brilliant examples showcasing creative and innovative thinking to encourage their team to learn and grow.”

We ran Games Nights where we played video games together to encourage people to explore gaming, we hosted virtual hangouts to get people familiar with Discord, we set internal creative briefs around Twitter; gave prizes for employees with the most TikTok views…

There was also still a need for formal learning opportunities. Some of this looked like self-directed learning, such as the Studio team setting up their own learning discussion groups for Skillshare courses they had opted into. Other times this took the form of a course, or inviting experts in to talk about a certain topic.


The CPD Gold award recognises learning with an ROI. So for Gravity Road, we were able to show that the energy and effort put into employee development resulted in a better bottom line!

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