Dad-of-two lands top job at the training company his late father founded more than 30 years ago

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Dad-of-two Dan Canavan has landed the top job at the training company his late father founded more than 30 years ago.

Sean Canavan set-up Stoke-on-Trent-based PM Training – which was then known as Project Management Training – in 1982, after being inspired to create a training organisation which combined classroom learning with on-the-job experience.

Today PM Training is Staffordshire’s largest independent provider of apprenticeships for young people, supporting around 2,500 people every year and holding partnerships with more than 1,600 organisations.

Now Dan has been appointed as PM Training’s new executive director following Will Nixon’s decision to step away from the business after 12 years.

Dan said: “Will has done incredible things for PM Training and taken the company so far.

“I was sad to hear that he was leaving, but it was an opportunity that I couldn’t miss.

“Over the past 24 years I’ve worked in a number of positions across the business, most recently as director of training operations, and I love what the company stands for and what it does in our communities.

“I didn’t know how I’d stack up against other candidates going for that kind of role, but I was confident that I know PM Training better than anyone. It just felt right.”

He added: “It means the world to me to be able to carry on the legacy that my dad started. Obviously, it’s a strange time to take on this role with everything that’s going on. But I know I have fantastic colleagues to support me and we’re doing everything we can to continue the education of our learners and apprentices during lockdown.”

Dan first started working for PM Training in 1996 as an 18-year-old gardening supervisor.

Dan’s father and PM Training founder Sean Canavan

He said: “I first started working for my dad by chance. I’d finished my A-levels and was taking a year out before a planned start at Manchester Uni.

“I’d set up a small gardening business with a couple of friends; dad heard a radio appeal to help tidy an elderly council tenant’s overgrown garden in Bentilee, and we made a snap decision to respond and help them out as PM Training’s first gardening team.

“This led to our property maintenance division Homeworks being created to work alongside Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

“Homeworks has come on a huge way since then. We now have over 60 teams in the area, providing invaluable work experience to more than 250 young people every year.”

In 2008, PM Training joined Aspire Housing, with Sean Canavan retiring and handing over the reins to Will Nixon.

In 2016, Sean lost his battle with lung cancer and sadly passed away at the age of 69.

As a fitting tribute, PM Training’s main Atlas Works training centre was renamed The Canavan Centre.

Dan, who is a dad to twin girls, said: “My dad had a massive impact. Not just on me and my family, but on so many young people and colleagues at PM Training.

“He was a huge character: hardworking, honest, funny, and dedicated to trying to help as many people as he could. He will always be my biggest influence.”

Sinéad Butters, group chief executive at Aspire Housing, says she was delighted to offer Dan the executive director role at PM Training.

She said: “We’ve known for a long time just how important Dan is to the success of PM Training, and just how much the education and wellbeing of young people in our communities means to him.

“Last year we adopted a new philosophy across all our businesses – to build better futures by putting people first.

“Dan is the embodiment of this way of working. He’s caring, ambitious, and he puts learners, apprentices and colleagues at the heart of everything he does.

“From the moment he walked into the interview we could see how passionate he is about the business his dad set up, and what a great asset he’ll continue to be to PM Training. “Sometimes things just work out right.”

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