How old are you and where do you work?
I’m 35 and I work for the fashion store Wallis, which is part of the Arcadia Group. My office base is just off Oxford Circus in London but I like to spend most of my time out in the field.
What does your job involve?
I write, deliver and evaluate L&D strategy for more than 330 retail teams. I work very closely with the senior retail team to determine development needs and formulate effective training solutions.
Describe a typical working day
I’m not sure I have one of those. It could involve some training delivery, a meeting with the retail team to discuss future initiatives, visiting stores to evaluate ongoing training programmes, writing materials, or indeed all of the above.
What course/training are you working on now?
I’m in the early stages of formulating a more structured development route to fast track some of our more ambitious store managers. Leadership and commercial skills are also high on the agenda.
How and why did you get into training?
I spent six years working as a restaurant manager and one part of the role that I loved was training managers and watching them move on and become successful. My first training role was as part of a new-openings team – we lived out of suitcases, worked extremely long hours but had
a ball training all the new staff. I then studied for my CIPD qualification and secured a more general HR role within restaurants for several years before falling into retail.
What’s the best or most memorable training event you’ve attended?
Gung Ho delivered by the Ken Blanchard Co. The training was interactive, fun and appealed to my values. Gung Ho is based on the principles of managers clarifying a goal, empowering their team to be in control of achieving it and praising outstanding performance – not rocket science
but extremely effective.
And the worst?
A personal effectiveness course – the trainer was the only one to laugh at his jokes.
How do you measure the impact of training?
I tend to ask some open questions at the end of the course, agree with each delegate some meaningful and measurable objectives and follow up what they have achieved as a result of the workshop.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A policewoman – it may have had something to do with men in uniform.
What’s your biggest bugbear in life?
Narrow-mindedness and people who won’t try something different.
What career advice would you give to someone setting out on a career in L&D?
Don’t operate in isolation and think that you are expected to have all the answers. Build effective relationships with key players and draw on their expertise. Also, make sure you understand the business that you operate in and don’t get carried away with the latest fad.
By Alison Gardner, learning and development manager