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Drama for Sun’s directors


Steps Role Play, the drama-based training specialist, organised and ran a bespoke team development event for the 27 Directors of Sun Microsystems’ Europe, Middle East and Africa region. Featuring a themed creative teambuilding exercise, which reinforced the importance of effective working relationships, the three-day event also included skills-building workshops on handling media interviews and advanced presentation techniques.

“There is an overlap of business interests across each of our divisions, so it is very important that we work closely together,” said Paul Harrison, Sun’s HR Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). “Once a year the Directors like to do something different, to maintain the levels of good cooperation we have.”

Past events have included outdoor activities such as sailing and canoeing but this year the senior team requested an event themed around communications, presentations and media interviews.

Steps Role Play was appointed to help organise and run the event, after the Head of Training for the EMEA region researched appropriate suppliers.

“We chose Steps because of their theatre and presentations experience and because we felt we had a cultural fit with them,” said Paul Harrison. “They met some of the key executives to brainstorm the event; they listened, they contributed and they worked hard to incorporate the ideas. It was the opposite end of the scale from an off-the-shelf programme.”

The resultant three-day event - which comprised three separate workshops, mixed in with evening social activities - was held in a hotel in Istanbul, a location which fitted well with the travel plans of some of the executives. All 27 EMEA Directors attended.

For the first workshop, Steps had invited a senior producer from London Weekend Television to give authoritative tips on handling media interviews and dealing with reporters. Throughout the next two days, a camera-wielding TV news reporter stalked the delegates and called on each to give an interview. The Directors had to provide informed opinion about a fictional news event that had repercussions for Sun Microsystems.

In the second workshop, two presentations experts from Steps Role Play highlighted advanced presentation techniques and each delegate gave a short, pre-prepared presentation on their favourite cause or charity. The delegates then received personal coaching on how to enhance their existing skills and the effectiveness of their performance.

In the last session, the Directors were split into three teams and, working with Steps’ professional theatre practitioners, each team had to devise and deliver a 15-20 minute sketch based on the story of the Wizard of Oz. The challenge was to use characters from the story to highlight a certain aspect of Sun Microsystems.

“It was a hugely enjoyable and beneficial event,” said Paul Harrison. “It highlighted some important skills, reinforced the importance of relationships and proved to be a highly memorable experience. When these things go well, particularly with the very top team, the benefits cascade down throughout the organisation.”

For more details, please call Richard Wilkes at Steps Role Play on 020-7403 9000 or see

Michael Dawson


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