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How I learn: Claire Walsh


As part of TrainingZone's CPD month we are asking training professionals to share how they learn. Here Claire Walsh shares how she keeps up-to-date with the latest thinking in learning and development.

As people who earn a living sharing and transferring knowledge it is essential that trainers and other learning and development professionals keep up-to-date with the latest thinking in organisational, team and individual development. I would also argue it is essential to keep abreast of what’s happening on a wider scale such as technological advances as well as the latest economic and political influences.

For me continuing professional development (CPD) is about being curious, but the danger is there is so much out there that you can get lost in it all and keeping CPD records then becomes a chore rather than a learning tool. 

"I belong to a number of groups on LinkedIn and follow and participate in a variety of business and L&D related discussions."

As a partner in a learning and development consultancy these are some of the CPD activities I undertake on a regular basis; they are in no particular order as I find them all beneficial to my ongoing development.

Business support groups

I attend a number of business support groups on a monthly basis to keep up-to-date on business, consultancy and HR issues. I regularly attend three different business support groups that meet monthly.

One is for business owners and directors and provides seminars on topics related to running a business as well as small work groups where owners from a range of sectors can discuss and ask for input on business-related issues. This group is fantastic for keeping me up-to-date generally as well as providing informal mentoring from people who have “seen it, been there and worn the t-shirt”.

The next group is only for consultants and coaches who support local businesses. This group is more specific to my line of work and is great for challenging my thinking as well as introducing new approaches, models and theories related to personal and organisational development.

Members of my final group all work in the HR field and are mainly practitioners. We share information on the latest thinking and discuss how we are applying things in practice; an example would be how people are using social media to support L&D activity.

Professional bodies

I belong to professional bodies and take advantage of the support they offer in terms of publications and meetings.

I belong to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and attend relevant meetings, read their online and offline publications and use their library resource which is great to research topics and find out the latest thinking.

Being a graduate member of the British Psychological Society (BPS) I regularly read their online and offline publications relating to organisational psychology.

Subject experts

In this line of work I am lucky enough to meet a variety of incredibly talented people working across a range of areas from using the arts to develop leadership capability through to supporting sustainable learning through social media. In my experience most people are more than willing to share their expertise with you and I have learned lots from leading thinkers in their fields.

Colleagues and clients

There’s nothing like learning "on the job" by sharing knowledge and working with great clients and colleagues. A large part of my expertise has come from experiential learning.

Social media

I use social media tools to keep informed of what’s happening in my field. I belong to a number of groups on LinkedIn and follow and participate in a variety of business and L&D related discussions. People are very generous with their time and support and there are a lot of practitioners who will share their experiences and expertise which I find invaluable.

Twitter is my other favourite tool which I use to keep in touch with leading thinkers, great HR bloggers, relevant research and whitepapers and I have to also add I have made some good friends on it. Online activity has led to me attending face to face events such as the Connectinghr unconference and meeting up with contacts.

Blogging and writing whitepapers are other great development tools as I need to research topics to ensure they are referencing current thinking.

Seminars and conferences

I attend seminars and conferences to meet and network with other L&D providers. In the HR and L&D field there is a wide variety of conferences and seminars to attend. The World of Learning is a good event to see what L&D providers are offering and the CIPD run a number of events both nationally and locally at branch meetings.

I try to attend one to two seminars, workshops or courses per year as I think it is important to be in the
role of delegate and see development activities from their perspective.

Time to reflect

When, it’s busy it can be so easy not to reflect on and embed the learning and I try to build in time to think about what I have learned and how I, my clients, my colleagues and my business can benefit from it in practice.

Claire Walsh is managing partner at Learning Consultancy Partnership, a Brighton-based management training, leadership development and business coaching provider. You can also find LCP on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Share how you learn: if you would like to share how you learn then please add your comments to this blog post or email your thoughts to [email protected]

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