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Fiona McBride

Fiona McBride Consulting Ltd

Learning and Development Consultant (Freelance)

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“I believe we need to be ensuring learning is practical and real for those in the workplace.”


We're always curious to hear how our members and contributors tackle the challenges that the ever-changing world of L&D throws at them. We've got a wealth of experience and knowledge across the site, and what better way to showcase the diversity of our community than to get them to walk us through an average day

Want to tell us about your way of working? Email us at [email protected], or let us know in the comments below.

Fiona McBride is a freelance L&D consultant, Vice-Chair for CIPD's Central London branch, top Tweeter and #LnDcowork advocate. 

So Fiona, tell us about your day...

As a freelancer I really do enjoy such a varied work life, I guess most freelancers say that though! Some days I’ll be working from my office at home, other days I’ll be working out of my favourite co-working space in London (The Office Group, 24/25 The Shard) and others I’ll be working at client sites advising on learning design, facilitating workshops and running sessions with managers to explore learning needs. 

08:30 – When I am working at home I tend to have a relaxed start to the day, grab a coffee and get my desk ready for the day ahead. I do like to have a tidy workspace and so a few minutes to get my papers in order and turn on the MacBook etc.. is usually what I’ll start by doing. I recently moved and I now have a lovely little office in our flat which I do enjoy working from. 

09:00 – I am a fan of to-do lists and using my calendar to plan my day, so once I’ve settled down I’ll check through both of these and see what is on the agenda for the day. 

09:30 – This morning I see I’ve planned in some thinking and design time for a new client I am working with. I am designing workshops for their staff, which explore social media, and its use for professional development and career growth. It has been really interesting getting to know them, as it’s an industry I wasn’t hugely familiar with initially. The L&D/OD team there are really lovely and such a pleasure to work with. 
11:00 – I do find it is easy to sit and work away at the desk, then suddenly before I know it a couple of hours have gone by and I haven’t moved much! So I’ll get up and go for a walk, I might make the most of the time and leave my phone at home, enjoying some peace and quiet and explore the local area that I live in. Or I might use the walking time to call a friend or colleague for a catch up. It depends on my mood!

12:00 – Lunchtime… I try and be healthy as much as possible. At the moment typical lunches when I’m at home are fresh soups or salad. If I’m out and about in London then you’ll find me in an Itsu - I love their chicken & coconut noodle pots and vegetable gyoza, super healthy but also super tasty! 

I notice how much we L&D professionals often support and help others to reflect and grow, but don’t always take the time for ourselves.

12:30 – Getting back to work after lunch and at the moment I am spending time focusing on the CIPD Central London Branch. In the summer of 2016 I was voted in as the Vice-Chair for the Branch committee. I am really enjoying the role, it gives me the chance to get involved in a variety of CIPD professional events and really give back to my profession. I love volunteering. I’ve volunteered in various roles all my life, with local community groups, Girl Guiding, British Red Cross, Age UK, and the Women’s Institute. However, this is the first time I’ve done something that is linked to my professional work. It is going really well so far, and I’m definitely looking forward to what 2017 will bring. 

14:00 – Next on the to-do list is time to plan a workshop for a networking group called the Extra Mile. They’ve asked me to come along to their January meeting and run a session, they wanted something a bit different for the start of 2017. I’ve suggested a ‘World Café’ style session; this will give attendees the opportunity to spend time reflecting and planning for themselves in an interactive and engaging space. 

I notice how much we (learning and development professionals) often support and help others to reflect and grow, but don’t always take the time for ourselves. The session I’m designing is going to help provide that space for everyone that attends.

15:00 - I am a huge fan of social media. I am active across a number of different social platforms but my real favourite is Twitter. I will dip into Twitter every day, I’ll be reading and looking to see what the people in my network are talking about, I’ll contribute to discussions that are taking place, I’ll post a question or a comment and ask for feedback, I’ll be reviewing who I follow and making sure I have a good variety of viewpoints and voices. 

I have been able to really expand my professional network by being a part of Twitter; this has enabled me to learn so much more. I am growing this wonderful network of very smart and interesting individuals. When you’re a professional I really believe it is important to keep learning, keep looking for different perspectives & viewpoints, and make time to hear from others. 

16:00 – Admin time.. I’ve always got messages and emails to reply to, so at the last part of the day I’ll catch up on those. Emails back to clients confirming bookings, emails to a training company I run workshops for confirming course details, invoicing and expenses logging. Also I’ll be looking to the weeks ahead and making sure I have all my workshops prepped and travel booked. 

#LnDcowork is a get-together of L&D/HR/OD professionals coming together to work on our own stuff but in the company of colleagues.

17:00 – A bit of planning for the last bit of the day. I co-host a monthly meet up group with my colleague Michelle. We started #LnDcowork (learning and development cowork) over a year and a half ago. #LnDcowork is a get-together of L&D/HR/OD professionals coming together to work on our own stuff but in the company of colleagues. It is a wonderful space for sense checking, learning, working, and networking. Plus there's always someone to share a coffee with! So I will spend some time looking for possible venues and also planning the Tweets we need to send out as the whole thing is organised via Twitter. Check out the webpage for more information if it sounds like something that is of interest to you:

17:30 – Time to step out of the office and relax for the evening. I’ll go a check out what is in the fridge for dinner, make a cup of tea and sit down with a book for an hour or so. Currently I am taking time to learn more about emotions and how they affect us at work. To help grow my understanding of this topic (which is a huge area!) I have a couple of books on the go at the moment, firstly Emotional Awareness: A conversation between the Dalai Lama and Paul Ekman and also Liespotting: proven techniques to detect deception by Pamela Meyer. 

Now, tell us...

What would you say are your main passions within L&D?

Making sure learning and development is real and practical. When I’m designing sessions and working with clients I always come back to the place of: What can be actioned immediately? What can the learner / my client take away from this and use? I believe that we need to be ensuring learning is practical and real for those in the workplace. 

What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

Meeting new people. I really am a ‘people person’. I love meeting new people and new organisations and taking time to find out what they do and what is important to them. Everyone is so different and organisational cultures are so varied, one of the main reasons I became a freelancer was to be able to gain greater insight into different organisations and different industries. 

One of the main reasons I became a freelancer was to be able to gain greater insight into different organisations & industries

What keeps you up at night?

This is an interesting question.. I rarely have trouble sleeping if I’m honest.. once my head hits the pillow I pretty much fall straight to sleep. But on a more serious note, the night before I’m due to work with a new client or group of learners I’ll have things running through my mind, mentally checking I’ve not forgotten anything and running through the plan for the day. 

One tip you’d pass on to your peers?

Keep listening and learning. Don’t stop seeking and listening for feedback on how you are doing, from yourself as much as other people. And never stop learning! The world, organisations and individuals are constantly changing so we need to be ready to support them as best we can and therefore we need to be at the top of our game to do that. Seek out different perspectives, try something new, ask more questions and practice what you preach. 

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Fiona McBride

Learning and Development Consultant (Freelance)

Read more from Fiona McBride

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