BLC Leather Technology Centre, a leading light in leather research, run a variety of training courses at their headquarters in Northampton, UK. As a relatively new recruit to the Leather International team, it was decided that it would be a good idea for me to attend a three-day seminar entitled ‘a comprehensive understanding of leather’.

The course is aimed at product technologists, designers, leather buyers, quality assurance and customer service specialists.

The purpose of the seminar is to give participants an in-depth understanding of the unique characteristics of leather, product performance, quality and testing.

Christine Powley Williams, leads the proceedings and her energy and sheer enthusiasm for leather make her a compelling instructor. She has a long history in the industry and began her career by training as a leather technologist at the BSLT at the University of Northampton, where she graduated in 1984.

Powley Williams went on to become general manager of Carr Tanning Co Ltd, a sheepskin garment tannery in Stroud, Gloucestershire. She then relocated to Australia and worked in production management at Packer Leather.

She has been a crucial part of the BLC team for the past eleven years where her main role includes training manager and bidding for public and private research funding. Powley Williams is a native of Northampton and was the first female tannery director in the UK in the 1980s.

‘A comprehensive understanding of leather’ is a very intensive course with a huge amount of information packed into the three days, but Powley Williams recaps the key issues and asks questions to check participants’ comprehension. The training was certainly never dull and Powley Williams kept the tone light and humorous with a fascinating collection of props and anecdotes to illustrate the technical information.

The majority of the course is held in a comfortable, spacious air conditioned room. A number of locations are visited to break up the classroom based learning including the British School of Leather Technology and the BLC labs. Other speakers included Amanda Michel on types of leather and Janet Hardwick, who explained testing techniques.

Chris Barnard adds anecdotes garnered over his long career in leather to his tour of the BSLT tannery, giving background information on the historical progress of leather machinery such as the pinwheel machine.

My fellow students hailed from a variety of countries and professional backgrounds ranging from a teacher from a Danish textile design school to buyers and technologists from Sweden, USA and top UK department stores.

New CBA Leather course at BLC

The BLC’s training programme has recently expanded to include a post graduate qualification; CBA certificate in business administration. In credit terms, the CBA is one third of an MBA. The programme is due to start in April and will run over eight months, comprising six modules with classroom attendance for two days per module.

The CBA is an intensive management development programme, customised towards the needs of the organisation and the individual. The programme is delivered at master’s level and contains many of the key MBA tools, techniques and principles.

The course was designed by Nottingham Trent University and BLC Leather Technology Centre for people wishing to develop their management and business skills, acquire a greater understanding of leather and the leather industry and advance their career and personal development.

The CBA is accredited by Nottingham Trent University and contains a direct route whereby participants can progress on to the Diploma in Management and the MBA.

There are no formal educational requirements for the course but several years of relevant management or business experience is required.

Modules covered include analysing strategy, business finance, leather – global supply and sourcing, managing people and organisations, strategic marketing, leather compliance and quality.