Careerfile: Wendy Atkinson, training manager, AVC Media Enterprises

Wendy Atkinson organises training for staff at a media company – a very far cry from her days working under extreme pressure in advertising sales management in the newspaper industry.

What does your job involve?

My role has two main functions. First, to identify training needs for the 90 people in our organisation and to fulfil them by planning relevant training events. I put a lot of emphasis on induction training. The second part of my role is to promote our training centre to potential clients. We sell the complete training package, where we provide specialist trainers and state-of-the-art training facilities so clients can hold their training events on site.

How many courses/events do you organise?

About 20 over a year for the people in AVC.

Which of them is the most challenging?

The most challenging training I have sourced and arranged is camera skills and editing training. We have to send our camera crew and editors to London for training. This frustrates me greatly as the costs are so high.

What course/training are you working on now?

I am working on a management development plan for people we have identified with potential to manage and develop the business.

How and why did you get into training?

In my younger days, my background was in advertising sales management with newspapers and I just loved seeing the people in my team develop through the training I gave them. I suppose it was a natural progression for me to focus on training as time progressed. If I had stayed in newspapers, I would probably be dead by now due to the stress.

What’s the best or most memorable training event you’ve attended?

It’s probably one of the management development programmes with Thomson Regional Newspapers. These were residential five-day courses that really put you through your paces – no time to enjoy the spa facilities as it was all about team work, with homework every night.

How do you measure the impact of training?

Through post-course evaluation and appraisal. Also monitoring behavioural change – the way the person is communicating, perhaps. Practical measures too – for example, how well someone can operate an IT programme after training.

Where do you see yourself (career-wise) in five years’ time?

Who knows? I know that whatever I will be doing I will be dealing with people. I do see myself as a bit of a ‘mother hen’ – I like helping people.

When you were a youngster, what did you want to be?

An air hostess. I am now too fat to get down the aisle on a plane, however!

What, in life generally, really annoys you?

The main one is this that I absolutely hate unfair and critical treatment of people.

What was the first record you bought?

Virginia Plain by Roxy Music. I was the biggest Bryan Ferry fan.

What book are you currently reading?

Nothing very cultural – Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Rising – I like horrors.

Who’s your hero?

My father, who will be 90 this year. He was a PoW in Poland for five years. He was captured in France and was marched to Poland. He escaped from different prison camps six times and was always recaptured, until the seventh time, when he escaped, walked to Odessa, and managed to get on a boat back to the UK. We really don’t appreciate the freedom and good fortune we have in our lives.

What’s the best piece of training/L&D advice you’ve been given?

Practice makes perfect

How do you relax?

I love to plan a dinner party. I am in my absolute element in the kitchen making good food for good friends and family. Eat, drink and be merry – that is my motto.

Wendy Atkinson is training manager at AVC Media Enterprises, a media and communications agency based in Aberdeen.

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