From education to employment

Cambridge Education Group transforms its Global Reach

Since 1952, Cambridge Education Group has been delivering the highest quality academic programmes, providing a valuable stepping-stone for thousands of students to progress onto the world’s leading universities and maximise their career opportunities.  

Adopting MHR’s iTrent HR and Payroll functionality – including recruitment, onboarding, data insights and flexible international payroll – gave Cambridge Education Group the tools and impetus to grow the business internationally, without adding to their overheads despite the impact of coronavirus. 

The project worked so well that Cambridge Education Group were recognised as winners of the Global Payroll Association Transformation Project of the Year 2020.

“The business has never had anything like this before.” said Andrew Finch, HR & Payroll Operations Manager, Cambridge Education Group. 

Organisational Objectives 

  • Streamline HR and payroll processes
  • Grow the business internationally
  • Efficiently recruit and onboard
  • Increase employee engagement and use of self service
  • Use data to gain operational insight


  • Phase out inefficient and inaccurate payroll practices and reducing pay enquiries 
  • Automate HR and Payroll removing all paper-based activities 
  • Roll out of core HR services across eight territories without the need for additional HR resources
  • Improve and accelerate recruitment and onboarding experience
  • Configure self-service for a diverse workforce

The case for change 

With 700 employees served by offices across the world – in the UK, Netherlands, Sweden, US, Russia, China, Dubai, Malaysia – Cambridge Education Group’s international workforce was proving time-consuming to manage. 

With employees teaching across a number of different sites across the world, the Digital Learning business wanted to expand quickly and introduce remote workers.  

In 2019, Andrew Finch, HR & Payroll Operations Manager, joined the organisation to help transform the ways of working across all locations. A sign of the challenge was that, at the time, Cambridge Education Group struggled to quickly obtain a listing of all employees with HR information owned by separate offices.

“iTrent is our intranet” 

Cambridge Education Group now uses iTrent to run its core HR functions in all countries which integrates with all other in-country payroll services, as well as operating as its intranet.

As Andrew confirms: “iTrent keeps everyone in the loop. We use it internationally, enabling our teams to upload all relevant information – which has been really useful during the time of coronavirus by making everything easily accessible. iTrent is branded for our business, and we feature lots of video and checklists to answer questions and get the most out of what iTrent can bring to our employees alongside a range of benefits offered by the company. It’s really easy for people to use.” 

Creating growth by proving the iTrent model in Hong Kong 

“We wanted to prove to the business that iTrent would support a fully integrated recruitment journey to support growth during COVID-19 and to further improve our business as usual process. Opening our new Hong Kong office proved to be the ideal opportunity. It had to be done quickly to recruit and bring on 20 new people”.

“The recruitment process ran through iTrent and enabled us to monitor the selection process right through to hire. Once they accepted their offers, we sent an email, welcoming them to Cambridge Education Group, providing a link to a video explaining how to log into the onboarding portal with their access details.” 

“Through iTrent, they can access training guides, their account details, payroll and HR documentation all in one place. We have had really good feedback from Hong Kong around it being a smooth, easy and paperless process. Everyone was able to start working right away. The first time we did it end-to-end was in Hong Kong. Now it’s been rolled out across all territories.” 

“COVID-19 really accelerated the need for the transformation. iTrent has given us the tools and momentum to grow our business even during these challenging times. Recruitment used to be a long process. Now we have applicant tracking which has significantly sped up the process. We’ve now integrated other countries, using the recruitment portal wherever they are in the world.” 

Building trust to enable change 

As a result, trust in the HR and Payroll team has strengthened considerably and that has been demonstrated by HR and Payroll being instrumental in transforming the business.

Using insight tools through one central data repository enables the business to take information from iTrent Business Objects. This includes tracking impact of COVID-19 and enabling the rota of people across different offices.  

“Business Objects enables us to make better business decisions based on budgets and spend levels. We have been able to build tools to allow budget owners to make decisions quickly on future spending based on being able to quickly review current spending without delay.” 

iTrent has also delivered savings into the business. Andrew comments:

“We previously had nine people working on the HRIS project – once correctly scoped we were able to bring this down to just four. Our HR & payroll teams have been able to remain static in number despite working partly on the HRIS implementation project while the business continued to rapidly grow”.  

Tailoring iTrent for future business needs 

iTrent has helped us transform HR and Payroll and will continue to do so. “We used the MHR consultation sessions to learn about the deeper functionality and what’s possible. We ask: how does iTrent solve these issues? Each new release brings new functionality we can add to our list.”

“We actually push for new functions – like holiday pay to ensure we don’t fall foul of holiday legislation for zero-hours employees in the UK. We’ve not seen this in any other HR or Payroll tool.” 

Improving data accuracy 

“iTrent has helped us remove errors in HR and Payroll and centralise our people data” states Andrew. 

“This all used to be paper-based, and the errors were a problem. Being a global business, GDPR is a huge concern for Cambridge Education Group and we needed to feel confident, with how we handle and protect our data across the globe. When things change, MHR works with us to accommodates our needs. The iTrent solution is powerful enough to accommodate our future growth and ambitions.” 

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