Leadership developer Rachel Burlton

What challenges does your job pose?

Talent spotting and recruiting the group. Our programme is intended as a cross-sector succession plan for London, but not every firm understands succession planning nor their stake in it. Then, designing and delivering the programme that brings together a like-spirited group of leaders from across London with diverse backgrounds, experiences and jobs. Building group trust and creating a positive climate for learning in such a diverse group, while being sensitive to individuals’ learning needs, is an exciting challenge.

What areas of leadership development concern you most?

Helping emerging leaders build their confidence and leadership credibility through developing their leadership talents. Also building self-perpetuating and self-managing peer networks that help delegates after the programme finishes.

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

The Common Purpose emerging leaders training in the North West in 2005. As a young upstart, I didn’t appreciate the magnitude of its impact. But it helped change my life. It was such a powerful experience that I made a career change into learning and development and moved to London.

And the worst?

When I was a graduate management trainee I was learning how to run a food convenience store. I had a 60-minute, computer-based, one-to-one training session with the store manager on the cashing-up procedure. He was an ex-army officer and treated it like a drill with a recall test at the end. Numbers are not one of my strong points and I was petrified.

How do you measure the impact of your leadership development programme?

We use quantitative and qualitative measures. All participants complete immediate feedback at events as well as pre, mid-point, end and post questionnaires to track their development against set criteria. We survey our graduates to assess the value they have derived from the programme.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I will be helping people realise their potential, but across different demographics and in different fields. I will be able to do this through multiple methods, not just experiential learning, but coaching and counselling as well.

What really annoys you?

Those who close their minds to the new and different.

What book are you reading?

Blink by Malcolm Galdwell

Who’s your hero?

My Mum and Dad, for successfully raising two (reasonably) well-adjusted children.

What’s the best L&D advice you’ve received?

Throw yourself into all sessions with the wide-eyed inspiration of your first session. Make doing and learning new things a habit. Learning and development professionals need to keep themselves new through regular and fresh stimuli.

How do you relax?

Red wine, good food and good conversation.

What graduates really want

Graduates and final-year students still expect more than a bowl of meusli from employers. And training is at the top of their wish-list, according to a poll by recruiter TMP Worldwide.

  • 71% wouldn’t compromise on getting the training they want as it’s very important to them
  • 52% wouldn’t accept a job with a poor work-life balance
  • 47% would be prepared to accept a job with a poor work-life balance in current market conditions
  • 1% weren’t sure


  • 68% would lower their salary expectations to get a job
  • 31% wouldn’t lower their salary expectations


  • 66% would move to where the jobs are
  • 33% wouldn’t relocate to get a job


  • 4% the percentage of final-year students who want to work in investment banking
  • 14% the percentage of final-year students who would work there if there was no credit crunch
  • 4% the percentage of final-year students who want to work in retail
  • 14% the percentage that ends up working in retail


  • 53% of recent graduates and final-year students said they were not very, or not at all, confident about finding a job
  • 37% are confident of getting a job

Source: TMP Worldwide surveyed 1,047 final-year students and recent graduates from its database by an e-mailed questionnaire in November 2008. 60% of respondents were female, 40% male.

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