As well as an eLN director I’m a Digital Learning Developer at Mencap. I’ve worked in learning and development for almost 15 years across lots of different industries and it’s taken me from surgical theatres to construction sites to driving forklift trucks around warehouses! I’m from Liverpool but live in Warrington with my partner Jay, our dog Sadie and a bearded dragon called Gerry. Outside of work you’ll normally find me in a live music venue, doing some boxing training, or finding design inspiration in random places. I have a somewhat unhealthy obsession with fonts. The text kind, not the water kind…
What do you like most about the L&D field?
I often think of my role as a bit like being a translator. I love to take a topic that’s maybe complex, confusing, or even just a bit dry and present it in a way that’s easy to understand. I live for seeing that lightbulb moment – “ahh, I get it now!”.
What made you decide to stand for the eLN board?
I’ve been a member for a long time and I’ve been to the events, acted as a mentor, and judged the Learning Technology Awards. I feel like it’s time to give something back and help others to benefit from the community in the same way I have.
What would your dream job be?
Running my own doggy daycare! I love dogs and I can’t think of anything more fun than being surrounded by them all day.
If you could change 1 thing about the world of L&D, what would it be?
I want us to be braver. To push the boundaries more and not carry on doing the same thing we’ve always done.
What does a typical workday look like to you?
I work from home and start each day with a 15-minute catch-up with my team. It’s really important to stay connected with each other when we’re not in an office together. I have a great team and that conversation always really sets me up for the day! The rest of the day is usually spent building courses or meeting with stakeholders. Occasionally I still get to deliver some workshops too and it’s great to still have that face-to-face interaction with learners.
What is your favourite type of training to either build or deliver?
Controversial opinion… compliance learning is actually pretty fun to design. It hasn’t got a great reputation but that’s why I enjoy the challenge. I just can’t accept that it has to be boring.
If you could give yourself advice when you were first starting out, what would it be?
Surround yourself with like-minded people and learn as much as you can from them.
What has been your proudest moment?
Winning gold at the Learning Technology Awards (then the eLearning Awards) in 2015. To have our hard work recognised by others who are highly respected in the field was the best feeling ever.
If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?
2019 – I want to tell my past self to make the most of that year before everything went a bit crazy in 2020.
If you were a superhero, what powers would you have?
I’d love to be able to travel anywhere in the blink of an eye. Such a big world and so little time to explore it all!
If you could share a meal with any 4 individuals, living or dead, who would they be?
I don’t think I’d invite any famous people or celebrities for dinner. I can’t imagine I’d have anything to talk to them about and I’m sure they wouldn’t want to be there talking to me either! I’d probably invite four total strangers – the conversation would be far more interesting and we might make some new friends.
What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?
Applied for a Masters degree without having an undergraduate degree, or even A levels for that matter! I’m still not sure what possessed me to do that, but I was accepted onto the course regardless based on my professional experience and I was so proud to don my cap and gown.
What three items would you take with you on a deserted island?
Sunscreen – I would most definitely burn on a desert island.
Something to play music on (I guess that would have to be solar powered!)
A friend for company
Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without?
Definitely cuddles with my dog. It’s the absolute best form of therapy.
Finally, what would be your top 5 tips for someone new to L&D?
- Be organised – you’ll have a lot of plates to keep spinning, so find something that helps you stay on track.
- Don’t scrimp on the prep work – Be clear on what the purpose of the learning is, the audience, the measures of success. The goal of learning is to improve performance and rushing straight to a solution without any analysis rarely delivers that.
- Don’t take critical feedback personally – it’s hard not to when you’ve put lots of hard work into something but look at it objectively and start a conversation.
- Practice what you preach – it’s easy to neglect your own development when you’re so focused on supporting others to learn.
- Make use of the eLN community – go to the events, join the webinars, maybe get a mentor. You’ll learn so much from your peers and we’ll learn lots from you too.