Careerfile: Our man in a suitcase runs training worldwide

Andy Shaw is head of the regional learning and development team at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

What does your job involve?

I manage the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) network of overseas regional training centres (RTC), which include locations in the US, Peru and India. It also involves some training delivery and lots of overseas travel.Courses I deliver include performance management and assertiveness.

How many courses/events do you organise?

Last year, the RTCs collectively delivered in excess of 500 courses, ranging from half a day to two days. These included customer focus and presentation skills. All posed challenges – such as tailoring courses to specific needs and supplying courses at short notice.

What course/training are you working on now?

I’m organising a three-day course to help managers develop their leadership skills. I’m also working with two RTCs to develop a couple of new modules of training focused on different aspects of change.

How and why did you get into training?

I have always enjoyed presenting to an audience and was keen to develop my skills in this area. Training has been a different direction for my career, but one that I have enjoyed. This is my first training job. Before that I was on a career break in the aviation business. I’ve also worked at FCO missions abroad.

What’s key to putting on a successful course?

Thorough preparation and effective communication with key stakeholders – before, during and after.

How do you measure the impact of training?

Usually through some form of follow-up a few months down the line to test what people are doing differently or better as a result. This would also involve line managers as part of the process, which is very important.

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

It was an external course aimed at equipping participants with key skills to help them cope with hostile environments. I spent four days running round the Oxfordshire countryside trying to stay alive. It was great fun.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Possibly on another overseas posting – hopefully heading up a small team somewhere in the Caribbean.

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

A fighter pilot in the RAF. I have learnt to fly,but sadly not fast jets.

What, in life generally, really annoys you?


What career advice would you give to someone setting out on a career in training/learning and development?

Get some sort of professional qualification relating to your field and enjoy it.

What was the first record you bought?

Hotel California by The Eagles.

Who’s your hero?

John ‘Aldo‘ Aldridge – the man who gave Tranmere Rovers their finest hour by getting them to the League Cup final in 2000.

What’s the best piece of training/learning and developmentadvice you’ve been given?

Fail to prepare – prepare to fail. It’s my motto.

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