As part of our How Did I Get Here? series, Natasha Goggin, who works for a small training consultancy, outlines her career path with roles including Training Co-ordinator role with Birmingham City Council and training and development manager for Unipart Automotive.
How did you come to work in training?
I took a year out before university, during which I taught horse riding. I continued to teach at weekends and during my university vacations, while I was studying Medical Biochemistry.
After my degree, I had the common problem of being unable to find a graduate position, so I took a riding instructor role at the Pony Riding for the Disabled Centre, until I got a job working “in science”, as a quality assurance assistant, at Bass Brewers in Birmingham. Unfortunately, although the job paid well, it was not really using my degree nor providing me with much mental stimulation.
However, the advantages of working for a large company include internal vacancy advertisements… and I applied for a training advisor role. Although I was unsuccessful, I was offered a secondment and projects within the training function, including setting up an open learning centre. I was working continental shifts at the time (two 12-hour days, followed by two 12-hour nights, followed by four off) and decided I could fit in training work on the weekdays that I wasn’t scheduled to work … which is when I (not surprisingly) ended up with severe sleeping problems and ended up having to look for another job, which didn’t involve night shifts.
Key Learning Point – take up offers of experience, whether or not they are paid, and emphasise them in your CV.
So I ended up taking the first training job I was offered in another company. I didn’t have a training or HR role on my CV, so I was very pleased to be offered such a job. But the job didn’t end up being what I’d been lead to believe it was going to be, and the company culture was completely at odds with my own philosophy on life.
Key Learning Point – Don’t accept the first thing that comes along. Know yourself and what you believe in, and make sure the company you work for has the same values as yourself.
I managed a year there – long enough to be able to put a training role onto my CV (despite it not being a training role, that was my job title), which enabled me to get a Training Co-ordinator role with Birmingham City Council. I felt much more at home with the organisation’s values, and developed my training experience a lot. But I didn’t feel sufficiently stretched, and within two years, I had gained a position as a training and development manager for Unipart Automotive.
In that position, I gained a lot of experience, both in management development and in e-learning. I could see the writing was on the wall there, and started looking for another position, preferably in a small consultancy, where I would have the opportunity to work with multiple companies and so expand my training and development experience more quickly.
As for qualifications, I took my CIPD Certificate in Personnel Practice while working at Bass. Then, during the last four years, I have managed to do the first two years of the CIPD PQS. Although the CIPD qualifications are useful, I’ve managed to get to where I am while only part-qualified. The exams aren’t really a test of whether you will be successful in the workplace. I think experience is much more valuable.
Describe your role
I now work for a small training consultancy, Metis Training & Development Ltd. Currently, my primary function is ensuring the instructional integrity, and timeliness, of e-learning courses, which are written by self-employed writers, for our clients. I also write e-learning courses, and liaise with clients.
As the company I work for is young and dynamic, my role is likely to change in the short and longer term. In the short term, I expect to become more involved in delivering face-to-face training, and also in scoping projects with clients.
What activities do you spend most of your time on?
Reviews of e-learning courses that are being produced.
Ensuring e-learning courses will be produced on time and to the required standards.
Is training in your organisation mainly organised according to a strategic plan, or mainly arranged when a need has become evident?
Metis is a training consultancy, which provides training to clients who have already identified what they think is their need.
Is any of your training accredited by external bodies?
Yes. Our e-learning courses for our main client, Skillsoft, are all NASBA approved (a US Accountancy accreditation).
Do you feel that training has a high enough profile in your organisation?
How do you demonstrate the value of your department to your organisation?
We offer to demonstrate return on investment of clients’ training interventions. This is easier with selling skills courses, but value added can also be measured fairly easily for health and safety training and other legislation training (such as anti-money laundering)
What influences do you think have had the greatest impact on the training sector in recent years?
e-learning (when you get beyond the hype)
demonstrating financial value (let’s face it, it’s got to happen… and it is do-able)
Do you think that training professionals should have a greater say in planning national training policy?
I firmly believe that schools would release better-skilled individuals into the world of work, if those training and development professionals who know what skills are missing from industry influenced education policy more.
This could lead to higher national productivity, happier young people (who feel they have more sense of purpose and can contribute to society), therefore less youth crime and safer communities.
How do you see your work changing or developing in the next few years?
I would like it to involve more liason with companies at an early stage of their planning their training strategy.