What does your role involve?
I am responsible for a team of legal, soft skills and IT trainers who deliver all of the company’s training and development [covering 1,800 staff across five sites]. I also manage the firm’s graduate recruitment function, recruiting 20 trainee solicitors a year.
What are the best and worst things about the job?
The best and worst thing is the same: the volume and breadth of the work is great because it provides me with the creativity and adrenaline rush I crave. But it is also the worst because at times I feel like I’m on a roller coaster speeding out of control.
What is your current major training project or strategic push?
Developing a core competency approach to training and identifying bottom line results, and a wholesale, strategic review of recruitment.
What impact would you like to have on your organisation?
To demonstrate that learning and development can be fun, and to show bottom line results. I would also like to reach the point where myself and the team are regarded as adding real value to the business by demonstrating real return on investment. And seeing the trainees I recruit become partners and run the firm would be a real testimony to the work I have done.
Which of your qualifications do you most value and why?
I value my business studies degree. I achieved a very high 2.1, which is not what would have been predicted by my A-level results. It also gave me an insight into business issues, which have proved useful in my whole career.
How do you demonstrate return on investment from training interventions?
This is one of the most critical areas that I want to work on this year. The project will start by improving management information, and will end with some real financial analysis of the impact that training and development has brought to the business.
What do you think will be the core skills for your job in the future?
Business and financial skills, influencing skills and consultancy skills.
How do you think your job will have changed in five years’ time?
I think I will have a more fluid role with fewer barriers and distinctions between the various disciplines within the HR and training teams.
As my firm’s international strategy gathers pace, I am hoping to broaden my exposure to a wide variety of new cultural HR and business issues. I will certainly be a more strategic manager, leaving operational detail behind.
What is the essential tool in your job?
My Blackberry. That aside, the negotiating skills to manage the often competing demands on myself and the team.
And the most overrated?
E-mail as a time-saving form of communication. It doesn’t save time, and it can ruin working relationships!
Which gurus do you most admire or find most inspiring?
Richard Branson – if I can call him a guru. I find him inspirational due to his unconventional approach, attitude to staff and the way that the Virgin Empire constantly evolves.
I also find the work of Meredith Belbin fascinating. I have used it both with my own teams and as a trainer. It never ceases to amaze me how powerful his simple messages can be if the session is expertly facilitated.