Bringing talents into bloom

David J Walker, 56, recently picked to be training and development manager
of flower relay company Interflora, displays his plans for nurturing staff

How long have you been in this job?
Three months.

How long have you been with your organisation?
Three months.

What does your role involve?
Initially, to assess current training activity within Interflora. To make
recommendations for improving and enhancing the range, quality and availability
of training and development to meet its business and strategic objectives.

What are the best and worst things about this job?
The best thing is the challenge of identifying the issues and implementing
the solutions. There is no worst thing.

What is your current major training project or strategic push?
To put in place a programme of training and development ,first with headquarter
staff and then with the florists who subscribe to our services, which reflects
Interflora’s objectives of:

– One team

– Pride of people

– Working in partnership

– Open communication

– Trust

What did you want to do for a living when you were at school?
To be an architect. I got as far as Art College but, it was the 60s, and
there were too many distractions.

What was the best career decision you ever made?
Moving into training and development with the Post Office in 1979. This
gave me an excellent grounding in the core skills and the opportunity to grow
within that career over the next decade.

And what was the worst?
The two years I took out of training and development activities in 1990/92
when I worked in financial services.

How and why did you become a trainer?
The move into training with the Post Office was a natural progression. I
was fortunate to be able to build on that experience and develop a career in
training and HR over the past 20-plus years.

Which of your qualifications do you most value and why?
When I started working as training manager for an insurance broking company
in London, I wanted to encourage the staff to undertake a Chartered Insurance
Institute qualification to improve their knowledge and understanding of the
industry. I agreed to study for the qualification and exam if they would. With
very little knowledge of the industry, I was pleased to successfully complete
the study and, pass the exam.

What was the worst training course you have ever experienced as a
I was invited to be a team facilitator for a five-day ‘prestige’ management
programme. I walked out after 24 hours. I found the lack of organisation,
elitism and ‘childishness’ of the process totally unprofessional.

How do you think your job will have changed in five years?
There will be more emphasis on development rather than training. An older
workforce (including me) will have the core job skills and will be required to
maintain and update them.

What do you think will be the core skills for your job in the future?
I believe there will be a greater need for the design and implementation of
e-learning as a practical means of making training more available and
accessible in the workplace.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in training and
Patience is a (very necessary) virtue.

What is your preferred terminology?
People development. I start my courses by explaining that I do not train
people. My role is to bring people together to share their knowledge, skills
and experience. I will contribute mine, which will also reflect the
organisation’s objectives. That way, everyone benefits and develops.

What are your favourite buzzwords?
No train, no gain. No gain, no good. No good? get trained. Got trained,

Which buzzword do you loathe?

Are you good at self- development?
Yes. It has been an integral part of my career. I am presently attending
night school for the Introductory Certificate in Counselling Skills. I felt the
skills and concepts of this course would be of benefit in my people development

Up close and personal

How do you network?
I am a member of the local CIPD branch. I am the branch professional
adviser to Lincoln College CIPD Cert. and Dip. in Manage-ment programmes and
external examiner for University of East London PG Dip. in Management. I find
these activities keep me up-to-date with people and ideas.

Describe your management style in
three words or less?
Honest, accessible, professional.

Do you take work home?
Yes, but don’t tell my wife, she thinks I am doing the ironing.

How would you like to be
remembered by your colleagues?

Which courses and learning
experiences have been most useful for you?
Undertaking (and achieving) NVQs at level 4 and 5. As previously, I
embarked on these qualifications to encourage others to consider the NVQ
process as an option for their personal development, while increasing and
enhancing my own development.

Which is the best management book you have ever read?
The Gower Handbook of Management by Dennis Lock and Nigel Farrow. I bought
a copy about 12 years ago and find it a useful reference for a wide variety of
management and training issues.

Which training gurus, management
experts or business people do you most admire?
Charles Handy has had the most realistic, relevant and pertinent input on
people development in recent years.

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