How Loop will lap up learning

Nicola Wilson, age 34 and head of HR at Loop Customer Management, which
handles client interaction for organisations such as Yorkshire Water and
B&Q, shares her aspirations

How long have you been in this job?

Just over two years.

How long have you been with your organisation?

Two years, ever since Loop was formed by parent company Kelda plc.

What does your role involve?

Supporting managers to bring out the potential in their people, by
recruiting employees who initially have potential, through ongoing personal
development and skills training, and having people policies and processes that
enable this to happen. I have a very capable team which keeps things running.

What are the best and worst things about this job?

Seeing people develop and try new things is the best, the worst is not
having enough hours in the day.

What is your current major project or strategic push?

To truly make this company a great place to work. We know that we are
already good, but we have two specific initiatives in place to make us even
better. We are building development programmes around empowerment which feature
feedback – I believe that empowerment only works when feedback is given. The
other initiative, in partnership with the Chartered Management Institute, is a
two-year programme for 60 managers. We want our managers to know that managing
people is the most important thing they do.

What was the best career decision you ever made?

To continually push the boundaries of my comfort zone and try new things, whether
a new role or a new organisation.

And what was the worst?

Not pursuing a secondment to Australia in my early twenties. Sydney seemed
so far away, a risk I wasn’t ready to take at the time. Having been since, I
wish I’d been braver then and had a go.

Which of your qualifications do you most value and why?

In this type of role, building relationships with others and the ability to
make things happen have been more effective than my qualifications alone.

How and why did you become a trainer?

It seemed a natural step as part of broadening my HR experiences, and I
believe effective training is key to a successful HR team. When I was offered a
training role, not having a go was never a consideration.

Do you think that evaluation is the ‘Holy Grail’ or an impossible dream?

A combination of both, in reality. Effective evaluation is so important and
as most trainers will appreciate, it can be the hardest thing to get right.

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

The differences will involve attitudes to working in general and delivering
a continued excellent service to customers who want more every day, and rightly
so.

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

The ability to think about the future differently and engage more with
people on an individual and emotional level.

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

Try as many different things as possible and have the confidence to take
risks. Even if you fail, you will learn from those experiences, which is far
more valuable than not having tried at all.

Which buzzwords do you most loathe?

Those that people use just because they’re the flavour of the month. Belief
and passion are more important than the latest hype.

What self-development have you undertaken in the past 12 months?

I have started to look at situations from different perspectives and
recognise that on the whole, most people here come to work wanting to do a
really good job, and my role is to help them be their best. I upgraded my CIPD
membership this year and found it was a very effective way of reflecting upon
what I have actually achieved.

Up close and personal

How do you network?

By keeping in touch with people either through network meetings
or phone and e-mail. I also enjoy meeting contacts for a drink or for lunch.

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?

Easy – the job I have now. If it wasn’t available, I’d love to
be a judge on Pop Idol – there is so much energy and belief within the
contestants and their enthusiasm is amazing.

Describe your management style in three words

Stretching, focused and rewarding.

Do you take work home with you?

Only in my mind, as I mull things over. I would much rather
stay late at work than turn my home into a second office.

What is your motto?

Live life to the full.

How would you like to be remembered by your colleagues?

As someone who made a positive difference to their working
lives and the success of Loop.

Which is the best management book you have read?

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach (published by Pan
Books). It’s not really a management book, it’s a short story about how
valuable faith and personal belief are. If we truly believe in ourselves and
have ambition and goals, we can achieve things as wonderful as the character in
the book when he learned to fly.

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