Get to know the LN Director: Paula Hughes


Paula has worked in L&D since 2010 and she’s on a mission to become a better learning professional who adds value for the clients and stakeholders she works with. Paula is a teller of stories, a presser of buttons, an asker of “what ifs?”, switcher on of the lightbulbs in your head. 

What do you like most about the L&D field?

The people. It’s a lovely community, so welcoming and people are very generous with their knowledge and expertise. 

What made you decide to stand for the eLN board? 

I’ve been a network member for a couple of years and it’s given me and my career such a boost. I stood for the board so I’d get a chance to give something back to the network. 

What would your dream job be?

An archivist. I love fragile, old, smelly, dusty manuscripts and parchments. It’d be a dream to preserve them for future generations. 

If you could change 1 thing about the world of L&D, what would it be?

Give ourselves a break some of the time. We’re incredibly hard on ourselves. How many posts have you seen decrying the state of L&D or telling you what you’re doing wrong in the past week? What’s that doing for the overall confidence of L&D folk? Most of us are doing the best we can with what we’ve got. 

What does a typical workday look like to you?

Bucketloads of coffee, some writing, calls, more calls, coffee and biscuits, more writing. 

What is your favourite type of training to either build or deliver? 

Something that I know absolutely nothing about. My favourite ever piece was about mobile network signals early on in my telecoms days when I knew nothing. I had some brilliant subject matter experts who gave me the best analogies and ideas for activities. 

What are you currently obsessed with? 

Figma. I’m on secondment just now doing UX for a career development app. As much as I’m loving learning UX design methodology, I’m loving even more being able to stretch my technical design skills. Never prouder than the day I broke my prototype and figured out how to fix it all by myself.  

If you could give yourself advice when you were first starting out, what would it be?

Hold onto the “I’m new here” attitude for as long as you can and stay curious. 

What has been your proudest moment?

Winning the silver award for Learning Designer of the Year at this year’s Learning Technologies awards gala. Still can’t believe that happened! 

Who inspires you?

Right now I’m in complete awe of Vikki Ross (the copywriter). She’s at the top of her industry, is incredibly generous with her knowledge, and uses her platform to give up-and-comers a boost. Her work is spectacular too. 

If you were a super-hero, what would your name be and what powers would you have?

Lady Dreamsalot, because my superpower would be falling asleep anywhere. 

What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?

I’m not telling you that! My mum might read this.

What three items would you take with you on a deserted island? 

A Kindle (fully loaded with books), a power supply, a fully-stocked and self-replenishing fridge. 

Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without?


Finally, what would be your top 5 tips for someone new to L&D?
  1. Understand the basics of how people learn
  2. It’s more important to ask the right questions than have all the answers
  3. Look for ways you can add value, even (or especially) when you just have to take the order
  4. Outcome is more important than output
  5. Listen, listen, and listen some more