How Did I Get Here? Katherine Davison, Freelance Trainer

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As part of our feature on trainer development, we asked TrainingZONE members to tell us a bit about how they came to be involved in the training profession, and offer some thoughts on what it means to be a trainer today. We received a fantastic selection of responses, which will be published throughout the month. Here, Katherine Davison, a Freelance Trainer and Consultant responds.

  1. What's your current job role? I am currently a freelance trainer who occasionally does consultancy work, including creating templates, designing databases, and assessing delegates for course levels and training needs.

  2. What did you do before this job? I worked for a large training company as a staff trainer, before training I was a Central Registry Clerk.

  3. Describe your route into training I was with the Canadian Forces for 6 years as a soldier, during that time I worked at a CRTC (Communication Reserve Training Centre), where I had to learn how to fix the lesson plans that were on the computer and train the other clerk as we went along. From there I became a database manager and had everyone in the office asking me questions about how to use programs. When I moved to the UK I got a job with Amstrad in their Finance department, but they moved be to IT very quickly, and most of the personnel would ask me more application questions than networking. When I was working as a clerk for the Canadian Defence Liaison Staff (London) my colleagues were sent on training and when they came back they had quite a few questions on how the program worked, I answered them all. It transpired that the trainer was only a Word Intro trainer training the PA’s and could not answer any of their questions. The PA’s convinced me to apply to become a trainer, and I took 2 MOUS (Microsoft Office User Specialist) Exams. The company I took the exams with took my CV and after the usual interview and mock training session they turned me down. The PA’s were not happy and made me write a letter asking what skills I lacked, the response I was given was that I had a job if I wanted it.

  4. Did you always want to work in training and development? I never knew it was a profession, I always wanted to be a war zone correspondent.

  5. What would you say has been the most significant event in your career to date? I know it is not career-related, but the September 11 terrorist attacks. I was training graduates, and one young girl's whole family, mother, father, sister and brother all worked in the World Trade Centre. So I had to keep her busy and organise the other delegates. Career-wise it has to be something that happened when I was on leave. I took a day off while working on a rollout (a contract with one company) so a freelancer had to be called in. We specified that the trainer must have Advanced outlook knowledge, but when I returned I was told that the freelancer spent most of the day in the training room learning how to customise outlook views (something that is sometimes seen on Intro courses). That was the biggest push to quit at the training company and become a freelancer.

  6. How do you think the role of the trainer has changed since you began your training career? It seemed that anyone could take training, companies seemed to throw their money at training, not caring if it was appropriate or not, I once trained an Access Intro to someone that did not use a computer, at all. Trainers were not really respected as professionals because anyone seemed to be able to become a trainer. Now with the economic climate as it is quite a lot of trainers have left or are leaving the profession. Freelancers can no longer be as demanding as some were, and some who would fudge their level of knowledge will no longer be called back to companies as there are ten more waiting for work.

  7. What single thing would improve your working life? More delegates completing TNA’s. When used properly, it can ensure that the delegates are placed on the appropriate courses, instead of the person who has never used a mouse on an Excel Advanced course. It also can give the trainer an insight into what the delegate is wanting out of the course.

  8. What's your favourite part of the TrainingZONE site? The Home Page, because it has so much information. It always has good articles in the news section, and I can see what the latest hot soft skill course topics are.

  9. Do you have any advice for those looking to embark on a career in training? Never think you know everything. There is always more to learn.

  10. What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the trainer today? Proving yourself against those who are flash with no substance, and some people (it is getting rarer) still have the misconception that the only good trainer is a man. You now have to convince companies that training is worthwhile.

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