Evolution-U Limited was formed in 2009 in direct response to market demand for high-level, professional, corporate soft skills training. Since its inception, it has trained upwards of 10,000 corporate executives globally in disciplines including Collaborative Communication Skills, Conflict Management, Sales Effectiveness, Negotiation Theory, Persuasion Psychology, Performance Excellence, Building Trust and NLP Personality Profiling.
During a conversation with Global Business Leaders, Neil Orvay (Founder and Managing Director) shared his inspiration behind establishing the company as well as crafting the products while narrating the experiences which motivated him to found Evolution-U. Following are some snippets from the fascinating conversation.
Almost by accident. I started learning NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) in 2008 for my own personal development, and after 18 months of traveling the world to train with the best, friends started asking me if I could train them. That led to requests to train their teams which led to word of mouth and my first three clients in Hong Kong which were Credit Suisse, BNP Paribas Asset Management, and Hong Kong Cyberport (a government entity).
In 2011, I was approached by a Shanghai-based agent (once again he heard of me through word of mouth) to deliver training in China. We worked together until the pandemic delivering both open and client-specific training across China in cities including Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, and Qingdao. Many of the clients I started working with in China 10 years ago continue being our clients today and we have trained their teams globally across Asia, US and Europe.
Currently, there is a huge need for soft skills training in all sectors of industry and at all levels of the organization. The pandemic only heightened the needs as skill gaps especially around communication and sales effectiveness became evident. There are many companies offering such training and standing out from the crowd is always a challenge. One of our differentiators comes from our background which allows us to take on a quasi-consulting role with clients. Many trainers come from a corporate background and have no entrepreneurial experience. Most have not developed their own content and few lecture at universities. We tick all these boxes which allows me to work with clients to develop customized content relevant to their industry and workflow. The theory is agnostic but the application is specific. I love learning about new industries and have developed role plays and case studies specific to my training content in partnership with clients from industries as diverse as insurance to timber, luxury retail to hydrogen production.
Our most popular trainings are the result of client demand and have been developed and finessed based on client input. Our most popular trainings (not in any specific order) are (i) collaborative communication and managing conflict; (ii) how to persuade and influence people (influencing without authority); (iii) strategic negotiation skills; (iv) sales effectiveness; and (v) developing and delivering compelling pitches/presentations/public speeches.
All of these are very business-result focused and relevant for our clients.
Let’s be honest, there is no exclusivity in soft skills training. While our content is unique, so is that of every other trainer and there are many good trainers out there. What differentiates each of us is our personal experience and client references. We possess a unique skill set and I position myself accordingly. We might not be the right trainer for every client, however, when we find that fit it works well and relationships that make a difference are built.
Our team is small but focused. It is not easy to train other trainers to the level required by clients and to manage delivery standards, I admire companies who have managed to build large networks of trainers – it’s a huge amount of work. My focus for building the company is very much directed towards online content rather than a large team of trainers. I believe that there is a market for sector-specific business psychology-focused content and that this gives the greatest opportunity to scale the business. The physical trainer-led sessions will always be an important part of the business and the door opener for most corporate clients; however, the growth will come online. This approach offers our corporate clients a cost-effective and rapidly scalable approach to rolling out our training content.
Currently, we have over 200 client testimonials on LinkedIn. This is an important metric for measuring client satisfaction. Fortunately, I can say that negative feedback has not been a real problem however, for team-specific training with a long rollout over multiple sessions, we always run a pilot, review the feedback and make tweaks where necessary. We also review post-training feedback which is usually captured by the client and discuss where improvements can be made. For our larger clients, this tends to be part of a year-end review. Most of Evolution-U’s clients have been with us for many years which hopefully means they are happy with the service we provide.
Currently, our top three goals for the future are:
And if I can have a 4th: To publish my first book in Communication and Influence in 2023!
In our opinion, Evolution U is currently leading the industry at the forefront by