Force for change

What does your role involve?
Kent is the European trading arm of global part supply business Premier Farnell. My role was created in 2003 to bring a co-ordinated focus to the training and development of our 500 staff, in both head office and field sales functions, split across nine different European countries. As a result, I helped to launch our Kent Academy in early 2004.

In 2004, the focus was on developing the core skills of our team leaders and product trainers. We are very keen to ensure learning is thoroughly transferred before moving on to the next initiative. We run one-day modules, with time in between to apply new skills in the workplace. This is backed up with one-to-one coaching, teleconferences and e-mail support.

What is your current major training project or strategic push?
This year, we are continuing with the above initiatives – you don’t become a coach or trainer after just one workshop. We have also identified a change in the market and the need for our sales team to work with larger customers, so we designed an advanced selling skills programme to equip them with the competence and confidence to do this.

What impact would you like to have on your organisation?
At my former company, we had a slogan, which I think sums this question up – ‘Raising awareness to achieve potential’.

What is the best thing about the job?
Being part of Premier Farnell, our parent company, I enjoy the regular networking and support from training and development colleagues across the group. We have a global training network [for around 5,000 staff], which is a forum for sharing tips and best practice as well as making sure we are all aligned with the strategic direction of Premier Farnell.

And the worst?
Being split across nine countries, with different languages, certainly provides a challenge and has made me think creatively about the way we offer training – such as teleconferencing and webcasting for some of the more knowledge-based components.

What did you want to do for a living when you were at school?
I wanted to become a language teacher -and I certainly think that there are elements of this job in which I am now using this.

What do you think is the greatest challenge facing the training profession?
Making sure we really understand our customers, their business and strategic goals. As part of my induction I spent more than two weeks in the field with our sales managers in France, Germany and the UK, which helped me immensely with the subsequent design and delivery of relevant training.

How do you think your job will have changed in five years’ time?
With the support of the leadership team, the academy faculty and local HR managers in each country within the academy, I would expect to take much more of a back seat in the actual delivery of our workshops.

Describe your dream job…
I’ve recently started to apply some of these training tools in a completely different context – my local church. My dream job would be where I could continue to do both the day job and lead church services at the weekends.

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