Career file: Clement O’Donovan

This month: Clement O’Donovan, workforce development advisor, Middlesbrough
Social Services

Age 50

How long have you been in this job?
I have worked in the training unit since 1980.

How long have you been with your organisation?
I have almost 28 years’ continuous service.

What does your role involve?

I am responsible for the training and development of more than 1,100
employees who either provide direct social care services or manage and support
care work.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The dedication of the people I work with.

What’s the worst thing about your job?

My 90-mile round trip drive every day. I live in the Durham Dales and I
estimate my return journey over the years is almost equivalent to a trip to the
moon and back.

What is your current major project or strategic push?

Applying the new Social Care National Training Strategy to the entire
workforce. The strategy is a challenging but much-needed initiative.

Preferred terminology

As Tony Blair would say, "Development, Development, and

Favourite buzzwords

"Clem, we are going to raise your salary" (which I have never

Most loathed buzzwords

Downsizing. Top-down.

Are you good at self-development?

I need no encouragement. Individual learning is a very good personal example
of perpetual motion.

What self-development have you done in the past six months?

I have taught myself how to use PowerPoint and am slowly becoming an
Internet anorak.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

Still doing the 90-mile round trip to the room with "Workforce
Development" over the door.

What was your most useful learning experience?

Becoming a father to two daughters taught me a great deal about women’s
rights and equal opportunities.

What was the worst course you ever went on?

I don’t believe there is such a thing. You can learn even from a bad course
or experience – you just have to look and think more beyond the experience.

What did you want to do when you left school?

At 15 I wanted to become a driving instructor. Perhaps that showed my
naïveté but my careers advisor was even more naïve – he said he would get me an
application form. I guess the desire to teach and train was in the embryonic
stage even at that age.

What was your first job?

I was a cost clerk for a drilling company and a few years later I went to
work on the rigs. It gave me a very good wage and an insight into life no
school could ever teach.

What was the best career decision you ever made?

Transferring into the social services training section following the closure
of the school I worked in. The move enabled me to get paid for a job that I
really enjoyed doing.

Which of your qualifications do you most value and why?

My diploma in management studies because I had such a wonderful time
achieving it and it helped me help my daughter achieve her post-graduate
management award. I also cherish my Football Association Treatment of Injuries
Award achieved in 1999 because it reinforced my belief that you are never too
old to learn something new.

How many minutes is it since someone senior in your organisation said,
"People are our greatest assets"?

Don’t you mean seconds?

Evaluation – Holy Grail or impossible dream?

Or the Ark of the Covenant.

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

Working for a strategic partner in a 100 per cent commissioning role.

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

Communicating through the keyboard and screen. And even more distant

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

Be creative, inventive and never lose the desire to be part of another
person’s development.

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

First choice would be my current job (honestly) and second choice would be
chairman of the International Olympic Committee.

Do you take your work home with you?

Yes – in my trusty old school satchel because it puts a limit on what I can
actually carry.

What is your motto?

"Make sure they know more when they leave than they did when they
arrived." My family motto is, "A man above an enemy".

Describe your management style in three words or less

Platonically laid back.

How would you like to be remembered by your colleagues?

As the happy one who scored a perfect zero on BBC TV’s Telly Addicts. I
persuaded my training administrator, Sue, to appear with me on the show. No-one
else has ever matched our standard. The experience taught me you can always
squeeze success from abject failure.

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