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How Did I Get Here? Gary Cookson, Mid-Cheshire College


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, Gary Cookson, manager of the staff development department at Mid-Cheshire college responds.

  1. What's your current job role? Currently managing the Staff Development department at Mid-Cheshire College in Northwich, Cheshire. Department has 3 people - me, IT Training Officer (0.5) and Administrator (0.5), and we support the development of 600 staff across three main sites.

  2. What did you do before this job? I was Training & Development Officer for Broadcasting Support Services, based at their learndirect helpline offices in Manchester. A standard training role, designing and delivering whatever was needed to whoever needed it.

  3. Describe your route into training I fell into it. I trained as a teacher and tried that for a bit, realising that in theory I enjoyed teaching but in reality hated it, mainly because of the additional work which came with it and took up your weekends. I took a contract job at ICI in Runcorn doing some quality management work, and through the implementation of a new quality system based around processes gained responsibility for training in the new processes and procedures, aswell as consulting around business improvement projects. Saw this as a natural release of my talents and decided to try training full time.

  4. Did you always want to work in training and development? Not really. I'd say its only in the last three or four years, maybe since I was 24, that I have really begun to appreciate what training is. Now I can't see myself doing anything else.

  5. What would you say has been the most significant event in your career to date? Aside from career moves which are always significant, I'd point to a chance meeting with then-Chair of CIPD Manchester branch Wyn Llewellyn which developed into doing some work together at ICI and sparked my interest in a career in training, and has developed into a good friendship since.

  6. How do you think the role of the trainer has changed since you began your training career? In my own experience I've moved away from direct training delivery to a more behind-the-scenes consultancy role, and any work I do now is more based on facilitating learning rather than training.

  7. What single thing would improve your working life? Aside from money and additional admin support? Managers who view training & development as a key strategic function and have respect for the professionalism of people working within the HRD field.

  8. What's your favourite part of the TrainingZONE site? Any Answers - a valuable source of information and help.

  9. Do you have any advice for those looking to embark on a career in training? Get some informal experience first before making the leap into full-blown qualifications and demanding roles.

  10. What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the trainer today? How to demonstrate bottom-line results to a sceptical organisation.


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