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SAS has been awarded the Computer Education Management Association (CEdMA) Europe 2016 Innovation Award for its work with HSBC to create the Retail Risk Analytics SAS Academy. The Academy is an established programme, already into its fourth year, designed to support the personal growth and training requirements of staff via a dedicated mentoring scheme.

CEdMA is the leading organisation for training executives, managers and professionals involved in education services leadership within high tech companies. This was the first year the Europe Innovation Award was held, with the RRA SAS Academy being recognised for its innovative approach and successful delivery. The Academy was previously awarded a Bronze award for External Learning Solution of the Year by the Learning Performance Institute.

The programme was originally developed to resolve the recruitment and retention difficulties faced by HSBC Retail Risk Analytics (RRA). Faced with insufficient onboarding, lack of SAS enablement, and uncertain prospects for personal development, promising talent was leaving RRA after a limited time at the business. This affected the team’s performance and its ability to innovate and contribute to the wider organisation.

Over a three-year period, SAS Education and the RRA worked jointly to develop and deliver the programme for improvement. The joint team created the RRA SAS Academy, a mentoring programme developed to support the short, medium and long term training requirements and morale of recruits. The plan followed an innovative ‘flipped classroom’ approach, driven through the sasprofessionals.net social network platform, and culminated in an intensive, week long boot camp where mentors were trained on soft skills and specific SAS tools.

RRA has now stemmed the flow of leavers with staff attrition rates reduced to less than four per cent. Total headcount has increased by 20 in the last year and RRA can now comfortably recruit internally while the careers of its trainees are enriched. Business processes are now reviewed with a full understanding of the tools available, and each team member has a personalised learning plan to support their development. The induction process for staff has also been reduced from six months to six weeks.

In its current iteration, the academy’s focus has shifted towards deriving business efficiency. All nine original mentors have achieved promotion within the organisation, with many acting as ‘gurus’ to their analytics teams. A Data Team has been formed to enable analysts to concentrate on uncovering business insight with SAS. Many data models that once took days to process have also been optimised to run in a matter of hours.

Myles Hannon, Director of Education at SAS UK & Ireland, said: “We are of course delighted with the success of the academy. An organisation’s staff are the lifeblood of innovation. However, they must be confident in their abilities with the latest technologies and feel assured of their future development. We believe that the RRA SAS Academy empowers mentors to take control of their learning, to drive creativity and innovation within their teams. We look forward to watching the programme develop and continue to encourage growth and innovation as an established part of the enterprise.”