Career file: Keeping faith with online methods

Oliver
Couchman, 26, a training consultant at Standard Life, invites readers to hold
on to the dream of e-learning, yet surprisingly, forecasts a rosy future for
classrooms

How long have you been doing this job?

Six months.

What does your role involve?

I am an in-house business partner to our internal account managers. They
require a range of soft-skills, process and FS-technical training to improve
the value-add and relationship they offer to independent financial advisers.

What are the best and worst things about this job?

The best is the wide spectrum of the collective training need, which
continually enhances the quality of our training interventions. The most difficult
task is to quantitatively justify training – it comes with the job, but there’s
a world of qualitative benefits and we need to widen the lens.

What is your current major training project or strategic push?

I am project managing the initial launch of an online study guide, which
provides substantive product knowledge and technical training to our base of
IFA account managers. I am also delivering time management and presentation
skills courses and manage external providers of advanced learning solutions.

What did you want to do for a living when you were at school?

I wanted to write music for film and television.

What was your first job?

Crowd steward at Chelsea and Wembley Stadium.

How and why did you become a trainer?

I had a chance to join PricewaterhouseCoopers’ behavioural change management
team after my initial accountancy and legal training with them.

What was the best career decision you ever made?

Moving into an in-house role with Standard Life – I now get to ‘be there
when it happens’.

And what was the worst?

Putting 95 per cent of my time into e-learning, thinking it was this
mystical thing that would transform life as we know it. It has a very valuable
place, but we are humans and like to network and seek assurance from smiley
faces.

Which of your qualifications do you most value and why?

My law degree – it gave me a balanced view of natural law and the wider
concept of equity.

What was the worst training course you have experienced as a delegate?

I went on a tax-calculation workshop which spent zero time gauging the
audience’s knowledge and ongoing energy levels.

Do you think that evaluation is a Holy Grail or an impossible dream?

Good evaluation of 50 per cent of training solutions is entirely attainable.
The remaining 50 per cent requires some reality – in many agreeable outputs to
bottom-line, it is impossibly hard to distinguish the training input from the
others it has bled into.

How do you think that your job will have changed in five years’ time?

The audience will continue to be more demanding with their e-learning
expectations; solutions will need to be more enthusing and more involving.
Shock-horror, we will still have classrooms.

What do you think will be the core skills for your job in the future?

Interpersonal skills; global, regional and sector commercial awareness.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in training and
development?

Keep an open mind; know your place as part of a project but challenge all
the time – the best trainers have directed passion and it shows through their
work.

What is your preferred terminology?

‘Appropriate training’, ‘business-partner’ and ‘hand-holding’. I also like
the word ’empathy’ and the phrase ‘duty of business care’.

Which buzzwords do you loathe?

Centric (as in learner-centric) – I’m cutting down on my usage and will wean
onto learner-centred

Are you good at self-development?

Do hairdressers have bad hair? But, I have begun over the last 18 months to
set aside time for my own progression.

Up close and personal

How do you network?
Courses are great for networking. I also travel between London and
Edinburgh and around the English branches. It’s good to meet people at their
place of work.

If you could have any job in the world what would it be?
I would like to act in a Merchant Ivory/Working Title film, or play for a
Premiership team.

Describe your management style?
Demonstrative, participative, trusting.

Do you take work home with you?
Yes, but I’m dealing with my problem.

What is your motto?
Understand, then contribute and care.

How would you like to be remembered by your colleagues ?
As approachable, someone who is calm under pressure and delivers.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
Still on ‘planet training’ but with my wife, two children and a better car.

Which courses and learning experiences have been most useful
for you?
 I have been on some great
soft-skills courses, however, it is my own course responsibility which is
honing my experiential learning.

Which is the best management book you have ever read?
The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen R Covey (Published by
Simon & Schuster)

Which training gurus, management experts or business people
do you most admire?
I happen to believe that Bill Clinton is the greatest public speaker of our
time.

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