Building a Professional Workforce

With an ambitious strategy in place, this large, well renowned University identified the need to invest in the development of its professional workforce in order to be recognised as the number one University in the Asia Pacific region by 2020.


In 2014, the Human Resources (HR) function conducted a review of its talent management strategies to ensure that the HR function was meeting emerging challenges and supporting the achievement of the University’s strategic objectives. The review identified that a targeted approach to building organisational capability was required, which included ‘professionalising’ their professional and administrative workforce. Up until this point, the University’s HR processes were not underpinned by a core capability framework and the small number of existing functional capability frameworks were inconsistently designed and applied.

Curve Group was engaged to develop:

  • A core capability framework for professional staff and a number of functional capability frameworks for specific functions.
  • A capability self-reflection tool, linked to guidelines on how staff could develop their capabilities
  • Guidelines for staff and managers on how to use the capability framework
  • A map of existing staff development programs to the capability framework


Curve Group took a highly consultative approach with senior stakeholders and subject matter experts to build awareness and ownership and ensure the capability framework was University aligned. With 13 professional functions and a large number of stakeholders to engage, a staggered approach was taken to the development of the capability frameworks. First, a thorough desktop review of broader University strategic plans, functional plans and existing capability frameworks was undertaken. This data was coupled with an external scan of best practice capability frameworks in the field. The data was synthesised into an initial set of capabilities and tested in a ‘capability selection interview’ with senior stakeholders. Capabilities were prioritised and selected on the basis of alignment to broader University strategic goals and functional priorities. .

Subject matter experts were brought together to support the build of their functional capability framework, where capability names, definitions and core proof points and proficiency levels (foundation, intermediate and advanced) were designed in an interactive and engaging workshop. Throughout the process of functional capability framework development, data was gathered and tested to inform the build of the core capability framework, which included those capabilities that emerged consistently across most functions and considered essential to all members of professional staff.

At completion of detailed design and validation, all core and functional capabilities were packaged to ensure the capability frameworks were simple enough for easy application. Finally, enabling tools were developed including a self-reflection tool to ensure each professional staff member could understand the critical capabilities relevant to their function and could reflect on their current capability in partnership with their supervisor. This was accompanied with a ‘how to’ guide for staff and supervisors on how to use the capability frameworks to support identification of development opportunities and options. Finally, existing learning options were mapped to all new core and functional capabilities. This activity supported thinking and decision making around priority areas to fill gaps in learning options.


Through a highly consultative and engaging process, Curve Group developed a core capability framework and 13 function capability frameworks. Enabling tools were also developed to support implementation. The capability frameworks are set to feature in a newly procured learning management system and will underpin recruitment, on boarding, capability assessment and development and career development across the University.

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