How did you come to work in training?
By accident! I studied a BA (Hons) in Hospitality Management at Strathclyde University before becoming Personnel & Training Manager at the Beardmore Hotel, Glasgow, for a year-and-a-half. I was happy to continue working at the Beardmore, however, I knew that I would not stay there long-term as it is a stand-alone hotel and there were no promotion opportunities. I had been in contact with an agency for full-time positions at The Beardmore and had said off-the-cuff to the agency to bear me in mind if a good position in a nice hotel came up, not expecting anything to come of it.
Then a month later the agency contacted me to say that there was a training officer’s position going at Turnberry Hotel, Golf Courses and Spa, would I be interested? Of course I was as the golf courses alone are among the most famous and prestigious in the world. At the time I thought the role involved the co-ordination of training suppliers to conduct the training on the resort until I realised that it would actually be me delivering the training! Once I started training I loved it and would never go back to a pure HR role.
Describe your role.
My current role of Learning and Development Manager very much focuses on one-to-one coaching with the managers of five of the Ramada Hotels on the West Coast of Scotland. There is also Learning and Development Manager for the East Coast of Scotland. However, at the moment we are in the middle of rolling out a leadership development programme that involves a series of courses to improve the soft skills of the managers. These courses are: two-day Train the Trainer, one-day Coaching Skills, one-day Managing People Performance, one-day Financial Awareness and one-day Grievance & Disciplinary. After each course the manager has to do a work based assessment to demonstrate what they have learned. This has involved a lot of co-ordination and designing how the courses are going to run to have maximum effect.
What activities do you spend most of your time on?
Coaching the managers on a one-to-one basis and administration to support that.
Is training in your organisation mainly organised according to a strategic plan, or mainly arranged when a need has become evident?
Both there is a plan devised for each quarter and if a need becomes evident it is reviewed and actioned if necessary.
Is any of your training accredited by external bodies?
No, unless it is health and safety training – all our managers have to do a four-day First Aid course which is done by St Andrews.
Do you feel that training has a high enough profile in your organisation?
It does now especially as we have spent a considerable amount of money and time developing our managers to be more effective.
How do you demonstrate the value of your department to your organisation?
By ensuring that we are always visible and working only on the objectives that have been set for the managers in order to drive the business forward.
What influences do you think have had the greatest impact on the training sector in recent years?
E-learning and coaching are becoming ever more popular.
Do you think that training professionals should have a greater say in planning national training policy?
How do you see your work changing or developing in the next few years?
I believe I will be doing less of the stand up delivery training and more one-to-one coaching that is more focussed on the business objectives.