A reader with international responsibilities, Debbie McCallion, 31, software
firm Intentia’s Training and HR director North-West Europe, explains her
commitment to coaching others
How long have you been in your organisation and this job?
Four and two years respectively
What does your role involve?
Training and HR responsibility for UK, Ireland, Holland and Belgium. This
covers both strategic and operational issues.
What are the best and worst things about this job?
I love the fact that nothing ever stands still and I really enjoy exploring
the coaching side of my role. I work closely with people who give me direct
feedback on what’s working well and what could be better. The worst things are
the massive amounts of paperwork and keeping on top of new HR legislation.
What is your current major training project or strategic push?
The management team are all working hard at getting our key values ingrained
in our culture across four countries. This involves looking at everything we do
and making sure we reinforce the behaviours we want to see.
What was the best career decision you ever made?
To move into HR. I originally began life as a trainee accountant, but after
six months decided it wasn’t for me and I was lucky enough to be able to
What was the worst?
I was in HR at another company, but responsible for other support functions.
Despite the value this group brought to the company, it did not receive the management
How and why did you become a trainer?
I am probably more of a coach than a trainer. I love translating theory and
trying out new academic models. At the moment I am looking at combining
performance coaching, life coaching and counselling ( active listening ,
facilitating people to find their own solutions.)
Which of your qualifications do you most value and why?
I value all of them. The most important thing for me is to feel that I am
What was the worst training course you ever experienced as a delegate?
I’ve been lucky that most training I have attended has been of a high
quality. One frustration is to have a mix of delegates with different
expectations of what a course is trying to achieve. That is why it is important
to set clear expectations and training objectives.
Do you believe that evaluation is the Holy Grail or an impossible dream?
I prefer to measure the success of the entire business and training
strategies together-they cannot be separated. Evaluation has a part to play but
you must measure the success of the entirety.
How do you think that your job will have changed in five years’ time?
The role of HR and training is becoming broader, and, as a consequence, we
need to think of ourselves as general managers with an HR focus. It is
important that we are not seen in a bubble just as HR people.
What do you think will be the core skills for your job in the future?
There will always be a need for business understanding and developing strong
What advice would you give to someone starting out in T&D?
Focus on understanding the business and think carefully about how you can
influence and improve business performance through others.
What is your preferred terminology?
I like the words personal development, the individual and feedback.
What are your favourite buzz- words?
I prefer to stay away from buzz words.
Which buzzwords do you most loathe?
The words staff and appraisals sound so old fashioned.
Are you good at self-development?
Yes, I work hard at constantly learning new things.
What self-development have you undertaken in the past 12 months?
I have recently completed a Diploma in Performance Coaching and I am just
starting a Diploma in Counselling and Certificate in Life Coaching. Also, at
work we have gone through a fairly intense team development process. This
taught me a lot about my style and how others perceive me.
Up close and personal
How do you network?
In everything I do. My first choice is always to pick up the
phone rather than send by mail.
If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
Describe your management style in three words or so
Energetic, involving, high standards.
What did you want to do for a living when you were at school?
It changed over the years from a doctor, to a journalist, to
then not having a clue.
What is your motto?
Live each day to the fullest
Do you take work home with you?
Mentally work comes home with me, but I’m getting better at
cutting it off.
How would you like to be remembered by your colleagues?
Energetic and passionate, and always there if they need me.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
I couldn’t be specific but it would need to be new, fresh and
Which courses and learning experiences have been most useful
Reading the Tony Robbins’ books and attending his seminar.
Which is the best management book?
Unlimited Power by Tony Robbins
Which training gurus, management experts or business people
do you most admire?
Tony Robbins and Stephen Covey