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How Did I Get Here? Gillian Thompson, Academee


Gillian Thompson

Gillian Thompson recently joined Academee’s consulting team from BSkyB, where she was head of HR for supply chain. Gillian’s first role at BSkyB was head of training and development, managing a team of 220 trainers. Following this, she became head of people and change, leading a cultural change programme for 10,000 people across the contact centre and supply chain areas of the organisation. She also has extensive experience in banking and finance.

All the previous career profiles can also be seen in the special How Did I Get Here? page.

How did you come to work in training?
I have been interested in training since I attended the induction programme in my first role for Barclays Bank – then whilst working for TSB a few years later I had the opportunity to move into a personnel and training role.

Describe your role
My role as a consultant at Academee, the consultancy and learning specialists, is a great combination for me – it enables me to combine training design and delivery with the opportunity to build and manage client relationships.

What activities do you spend most of your time on?
My primary role is to develop and manage a number of key client relationships. I work closely with them to understand their needs, to help facilitate their organisational and learning strategies, and to help create tailor-made training and development solutions to meet their goals.

Is training in your organisation mainly organised according to a strategic plan, or mainly arranged when a need has become evident?
It’s a bit of both. We are very good at practising what we preach! Regular company-wide communication and get-togethers encourage input into our strategic planning and ownership of our strategic goals. We have an excellent, very well-used performance management system in place and as individuals we each take responsibility for defining our own goals in line with Academee’s overall strategy. Managers act as catalysts and coaches to help make this happen.

Is any of your training accredited by external bodies?
Yes – Academee has developed a unique online version of the Chartered Management Institute’s Cerificate and Diploma in Management, consisting of a series of accredited e-learning courses. We also have an excellent Chartered Institute of Marketing accredited e-learning course, ‘How to Create a Web Marketing Plan.’ These have been developed primarily to meet the needs of our clients but of course they also offer immense learning opportunities to our own people. An additional benefit is that this also gives Academee people the opportunity to understand more about the products and services we offer clients.

Do you feel that training has a high enough profile in your organisation?
Of course - training is what we do. As I’ve said, individuals are encouraged to take ownership of their own training and development, and the organisation supports this. We are an Investor in People and regular IiP assessments have praised Academee’s commitment to people development.

How do you demonstrate the value of your department to your organisation?
Academee considers itself very much a learning organisation so we feel training is an integral part of what we do and a key factor in our oranisation’s overall performance. The real measure of the value of training is demonstrated by the excellent client feedback we receive.

What influences do you think have had the greatest impact on the training sector in recent years?
Many things - blended learning, ‘different’ training environments and approaches, and the ability to really link training to business results.

Do you think that training professionals should have a greater say in planning national training policy?
Yes! And we have to be better at making ourselves heard.

How do you see your work changing or developing in the next few years?
Continued focus on the individual, encouraging and supporting people to reach their potential in their own way. To enable this, we need to ensure that each individual can take responsibility for their personal development and has access to a range of learning opportunities. Coaching is also becoming increasingly recognised as a key factor in helping individuals to achieve their goals, and I believe we’ll see e-coaching and telephone coaching become increasingly common.


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