What’s your true vocation?

The New Year invites reflection on career, life choices and the challenges
we’re likely to face in the months ahead. 
Margaret Kubicek asks training professionals to take stock

Research from the Training Foundation indicates that many training managers
‘fall’ into the profession almost by default rather than by following a
distinct career path in the field, particularly if they started in their role
by delivering training.

Maybe their subject matter expertise enabled them to fill an unexpected gap
on a programme, they were the right person at the right time, or perhaps they
were initially attracted to the idea of retreating from an operational role.

We ask what importance a trainers’ route into the profession has on their
performance, and how practitioners can know training is right for them.

David Goodson
Director of training, Marriott Hotels, UKI MEA

The majority of our training is delivered by managers who are not full-time
trainers. Marriott has set up a network of managers from all over the world to
facilitate specific Marriott management development programmes.

Once certified, each manager facilitates three or four programmes each year
and there is quite a kudos to being part of the network.

Because managers are from within the business, it gives the programmes even
more credibility, and participants often comment on the value of the ‘real
life’ experience that an operations manager brings to the programme. They think
it is great their trainer spent the previous week dealing with the same issues
they are learning about – and will be back dealing with them the following

Natalie Beckerman
Head of quality and development, The Places for People Group

I’m not interested in how or why people chose to go into the profession.
What I want to know is can they relate to the client and can they relate to the
needs of the business. It’s also about being creative and flexible to find the
right solution for each client. Influencing, persuasion and negotiation skills
are critical to any training professional because a lot of it is about being
able to get people to sign up to what you’re telling them.

Simon Cutler
Learning and development manager, Dunlop Aerospace

I made a conscious decision 12 years ago to go into personnel and training
after being in hotel management and, basically, I fell in love with it and then
progressed – I found my vocation in life. It felt natural being able to deliver
the training and I felt I could reach people’s level – you’ve got to have the
desire to do that.

I think trainers are getting better but I think they need to understand
their target audience more. You’re on stage and you’ve got to deliver something
that participants retain and use to enhance their skillset.

Liz Dean
Management development consultant, Abbey National

I was an account manger in sales and, to be honest, I didn’t want another
winter on the road. I had got involved in making presentations to clients and
colleagues as well as in cascade training. I got interested and looked for
opportunities to move into training. Now I’m very much involved in coaching and
one-to-one personal development. I didn’t fall into it – I knew it was where I
wanted to go. For me, developing people is how I get a buzz and seeing someone
you’ve helped achieve their aspiration makes me feel quite proud.

Because I didn’t have previous training qualifications or a typical training
degree like psychology, it was much easier for me to move within the company
because I was a known quantity. My business skills and knowledge were a big
advantage to Abbey National, and it felt the skills I would need in my new role
were trainable.

Pat Ashworth
HR manager, Co-operative Insurance Society

I entered the learning and development field after having spent several
years working in almost every other area of HR and having spent six months on
secondment to the business. I know its right for me because I am in a position
where I can add value to the business by helping improve their performance and,
more importantly, their contribution to the bottom line. I can really make a

Some of our most effective trainers are those with a business background. It
helps them focus on the real issue and instinctively know what will work.
Consequently, a combination of experience in both would be my preferred route
into training. Trainers know its right for them when they finally begin to
connect with people and realise that they have changed hearts and minds.

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