Keeping pace with the business

Royal & SunAlliance national information services training manager David
Burgess-Joyce. 37, tells us why his new job requires some fast thinking

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

How long have you been with your organisation?
18 years.

What does your role involve?
The strategic roll-out of internal and external technical training to a
newly unified population of 1,500 IT staff and exploring new ways of learning,
while maintaining cost effectiveness.

What’s the best thing about your job?
The challenge of delivering high quality, focused and timely training
packages to an audience of technicians who dot every "I" and cross
every "T".

What is your current major project or strategic push?
We are looking to be a centre of excellence in project management. That is
priority number one, closely followed by the development of unified procedures
for the delivery of training across numerous UK sites populated by a diversity
of people.

Preferred terminology – training, development, education, learning?
Although the products offered by my team are technical and would best be
described as training or education, I prefer learning and development as they
conjure up much more than just classroom training.

Favourite buzzwords?
Integrity, kindness, enthusiasm, savvy. Maybe not buzzwords, but they’ll do
for me. Without these, what is the point?

Are you good at self development?
No, like most training people, I do not practise what I preach. However, I
do challenge myself all the time by undertaking tasks that take me outside my comfort

What was the most useful learning experience you ever had?
360-degree feedback. It is good to look inwardly at yourself and to see
what others you work with feel about you. It certainly changed the way I
interact with my colleagues (and friends).

Which is the best management book you have ever read?
The One-minute Manager by Ken Blanchard.

What was the worst course you ever went on?
All courses give you something – even the poor ones.

What did you want to do for a living when you were at school?
Be a barrister, but I wasn’t clever enough.

What was your first job?
I worked for a bank and hated it.

What was the best career decision you ever made?
Applying for this job.

What was the worst career decision you ever made?
Applying to that bank.

Which qualification do you most value?
A degree in psychology. It has proved invaluable in negotiations and
getting past "no".

How many minutes is it since someone senior in your organisation said
"People are our greatest assets"?
Nanoseconds, if that doesn’t sound too Trekky! Royal and SunAlliance
leadership is very committed to that ethos, and that’s why I enjoy working here
so much.

Evaluation – holy grail or impossible dream?
You have to evaluate in order to have some handle on return on investment,
but I feel we go overboard at times. We should occasionally just stand back and
ask, "What did we really gain from that?"

How do you think your job will have changed in five years’ time?
There will be much more outsourcing by then, and a greater emphasis on
supplier and relationship management training will be required, together with a
need for resource planning to identify training requirements sooner.

What do you think the core skills for your job will be in the future?
As the IT world increases in speed every day, it is essential that the job
can identify trends in languages far quicker than it does now. We need to be
able to identify training needs before our competitors.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in T&D?
Start in behavioural skills areas before moving on to technical ones. You
will learn a great deal about how skill in the former ensures delivery of the

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
Home Secretary or opera singer.

What is your motto?
I have two: "Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness" and "If
I can’t do you any good, I won’t do you any harm".

Describe your management style in three words or less?
Innovative, sharing, patient.

How would you like to be remembered by your colleagues?
I’d like to be thought of as a person who didn’t take himself, or the world
in which he worked, too seriously.

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