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How Did I Get Here? Margaret Hacking, Aim 2 Succeed

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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, training provider Margaret Hacking, responds.


  1. What's your current job role? I run my own Training & Development Consultancy Business “Aim 2 Succeed” based in Cheshire.


  2. What did you do before this job? Immediately before - I worked in the T&D department of ICI for 12 years.


  3. Describe your route into training First role in training was managing an Open Learning Centre for ICI. Then moved to become a Training Officer, then Training Manager and ultimately a Development Consultant.


  4. Did you always want to work in training and development? No, when I left school I almost went to University then at the last minute, went into Hotel Management for many years and ended up as the buyer for all food, drink and associated equipment in the UK for ICI. I then had a long think about what I wanted to do next and realised the parts of my job involved with training were really rewarding so decided to pursue this area.


  5. What would you say has been the most significant event in your career to date? I am going to cheat here and mention two. The first was attending a Making Learning Happen course run by Professor Sylvia Downs that helped make the distinction between learning being an internal process and it not about being lectured or taught at. The second was the first time I said no to a customer. I still smile now about that memory although at the time, it was not an occasion to smile. I had been asked to facilitate an event the customer had designed to change the thinking and behaviour of his staff. I realised the event as designed would not give the results the customer needed so I refused. I then spent a long time helping them to define exactly what they wanted the staff to know and to be able to do afterwards. I then designed an event to make this happen. It was a tremendous success and the management team were delighted with the results. I subsequently have had a very close working relationship with that manager ever since.


  6. How do you think the role of the trainer has changed since you began your training career?

    · The move from training to learning gives the trainer a different focus nowadays. It should be about ensuring events are well designed to enhance learning then ensuring the learner is totally involved throughout the process. Building in all aspects of NLP, adult learning techniques, keeping it relevant to the job and having lots and lots of fun is something I aspire to.

    · Also ensuring clear success criteria are established before the event is designed, rather than chasing after it with evaluation sheets, helps managers and trainer to know what is expected and how to measure it.


  7. What single thing would improve your working life? All the bureaucracy and paperwork to take half the time. And can it please coincide with rainy days so I don’t mind spending time on the computer instead of out in the garden doing my preparation work.


  8. What's your favourite part of the TrainingZONE site? I like getting the updates with the latest news as this helps me keep up-to-date and I can follow the links to find out more on any subject that winks at me. I also like the “Any Answers” section as a fabulous resource to tap into and to share best practice with others.


  9. Do you have any advice for those looking to embark on a career in training? Do it. As long as you are committed to help the customer learn not just share your knowledge it can be a really rewarding career and tremendous fun. I have met some wonderful people over the years both as customers and colleagues. There are a great many talented, generous trainers out there to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude.


  10. What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the trainer today? Ensuring people really define what the needs are. Very often they leap to conclusions about what they think they want. Trainers should spend time helping the client really define their needs, then find the appropriate solution - even if it isn’t one they offer.

    Customers have tremendous budgetary and time constraints. This means the learning needs to be in bite size chunks close to the workplace. (Goodbye to those luxurious 5-day residential courses.) It’s a great challenge to make this happen and is now rightly expected by the client. Makes costing a challenge as they only see the two – three hour event you run not the lengthy process you went through to get it down to this length. It often takes less time to design a two-day event than an effective two-hour one.

    Keeping up-to-date with content and with latest learning techniques. Don’t forget to invest in your own development would be a tip for us all to bear in mind.

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