How a word in the right ear led to a training career

What courses and/or events do you organise?

I recently developed and ran a two-day learning community conference for 150 RBS learning professionals at our global headquarters to meet the strategic learning needs of the organisation. On a much smaller scale, I designed and delivered a two-day upskilling workshop for new learning consultants within one of our major divisions.

How and why did you get into training?

I have a genuine interest in children and people, supporting them to develop their potential and making a difference. From the first training course I attended within RBS, I set a personal goal to be part of the then training department. After getting a good grounding in retail banking and spending some time in a coaching role, a word in the right ear at the right time led me to a role in the training support unit.

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

Many years ago, I attended a ‘train the trainer’ course. After running my demo session on designing a garden in a stuffy hotel room in July, the facilitator asked: “Why didn’t you run the session in the hotel garden?” That taught me a strong lesson on ‘thinking outside the box’.

And the worst?

A dreadful project management course, facilitated by a very unprofessional trainer, who didn’t – or couldn’t – answer any challenging questions, and focused on his set way of doing things. He wouldn’t consider any alternative ways of tackling issues, leaving all the participants de-motivated and frustrated.

What’s key to putting on a successful course?

Do your research thoroughly ensure you know your target audience and the subject matter make it relevant and keep it simple and engaging.

How do you measure the impact of training?

Validating whether learning has the required impact requires different methods. These are often referred to as evaluation, testing, assessment, validation, measurement, return on investment,etc. We found that these terms hold different meanings across the RBS learning community, sowe are currently defining the differences and outlining how these should be applied to ensure the learning functions and the business can equally justify investment and demonstrate impact.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I will still be in a learning and development role continuing to develop my own professional skills and knowledge by operating from a global multi-cultural standpoint.

What’s your biggest bugbear?

Bad manners.

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

Do your homework, set your personal and career objectives, and find a role that gives you as close a match as possible to both,or you’ll spend your energy trying to meet them all. Be prepared to be flexible, don’t be afraid of technology, and never forget the recipient of your work.

What was the first record you bought?

A double A-sided 7-inch vinyl single by T-Rex called Midnight/The Groover.I started young and was ahead of my time, just like Marc Bolan.

What book are you currently reading?

Freakonomics by Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner.

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

Don’t lose your sense of humour.


Eleven effective questions for coaching and mentoring


We asked what questions should be used when coaching and mentoring. University researchers came up with the following:

1. What is the issue you wish to discuss?

2. What makes it an issue now?

3. Whose issue/problem is it?

4. How important is it?

5. What have you tried so far?

6. Imagine this issue is resolved – what do you think you would you see, hear and feel?

7. What is standing in the way of the ideal outcome?

8. What are the options for action here?

9. What criteria would you use to judge these options?

10. Which option seems best against the criteria?

11. What is the next best step?

Source: Researchers at the Institute of Education, London University

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)


Institute of Education, London University

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