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How Did I Get Here? Lisa Hodges, Human Resources Department Supervisor


How did you come to work in training?
I originally wanted to become a primary school teacher, so I went to university with the intention of training to become a teacher, with a strong leaning towards children with special needs. I became very disillusioned very quickly after I qualified. I was spending more and more of my time completing needless paperwork and less time actually teaching! I got out whilst I still had my sanity and went to work for AXA PPP Healthcare. I became a training officer, specialising in induction, soft skills training and health and medical training. I stayed for four years, then was made redundant. Good things always come out of the bad, and I ended up taking time off to start a family. I did some recruitment consultancy work during my pregnancy to keep my skills up to date.

After our son was born, I decided I wanted another challenge, so I took an 18-month contract with our local NHS Trust as a Learning and Development Advisor. It has been a real eye opener for me, as so many staff had been ‘forgotten’ when it came to personal development. This was seen as something for the doctors, not the ‘lower paid staff’, so going about changing that perception has been a real challenge. My contract recently ended, so I have just taken up a new role for a wonderful company as their HR Supervisor. 2 months in and the job just keeps getting better and better. I also teach GCSE English once a week and also try to fit in private training work. I definitely prefer the busy life!

Describe your role.
I like to think that I am here to help all staff achieve the best they can, in a supportive environment. The company has never had dedicated HR staff before, so I am spending a lot of my time updating their HR and training processes, looking at helping the company become more ‘flexible’ in their work, introducing new policies and dealing with day to day issues such as induction, training and recruitment. I work part time, so it is a challenge fitting it all in to three days!

What activities do you spend most of your time on?
At the moment, I am spending a large amount of time arranging technical and soft skills training for the staff. Our company is committed to helping staff succeed, so we offer lots of different training packages – linked to appraisals – and also offer incentives for staff to complete recognised qualifications. The other big area at the moment is recruitment. We are an expanding company so looking for the ‘right candidates’ takes up a lot of time. We do have difficulties in recruiting because of our location, so I have been looking at our benefits package to see if we can make ourselves even more attractive to potential employees.

What are the best and worst aspects of your role?
Making a positive difference is definitely the best part of the role. If I can take some of the day-to-day stress away from staff and help them become more effective and happier employees then I know I am half way there. Sometimes the simplest things make the biggest difference, like helping staff through maternity leave. I am more of a ‘glass half full’ girl, so there aren’t really any bad aspects of my job.

What is your most over-used phrase?
I have a horrible tendency to say ‘Does that make sense?’ when I have finished explaining something. I really should stop it, but for some unknown reason I can’t help myself! Whilst we are on the subject of phrases, the over-use of the phrases ‘synergies’ and ‘blended learning’ drive me to distraction! If we must use the latest buzz words, then lets try to be original!

What is the best lesson you can pass on?
Never assume course delegates know less than you! A fatal mistake, but thankfully I learnt this early on in my career.

What has been your worst training moment?
Whilst training medical terminology, I was explaining a particular medical condition in depth, with all the details of its associated operations and procedures. One of my delegates burst into tears and left the course. It turned out a close relative had recently died of the same condition and my course brought the memories back. What did I learn from this? Do your background work, and don’t assume that because you are comfortable discussing a subject, that your delegates will feel the same.

What influences do you think have had the greatest impact on the training sector in recent years?
Training is breaking down barriers. Over the years, I have seen a big change where training was traditionally seen as something for senior staff only, and for staff with a certain level of educational qualifications. Now, we are starting to focus more on people who need assistance with Basic Skills. I think this is such a positive move, as not only does it help people in their working lives, but in there home lives too.

How do you see your work changing and developing in the next few years?
I think as a country we are becoming more in tune with having a good ‘work-life balance’, which is something I am passionate about. I hope that my training and HR work will not only assist staff with improving their working lives, but make a real difference to their personal lives as well.

I hope that as training professionals we will become more confident in our abilities and not be swayed by every new ‘fad’ that comes our way. I am not resistant to change, but I think we need to remember that not every new idea is a good idea!


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