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My training career – Phil Deer


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, Phil Deer, a Skills Training Consultant in the General Insurance arm of Norwich Union gives his response.

  1. What's your current job role?

    I'm a Skills Training Consultant in the General Insurance arm of Norwich Union. I've been in the role for just under two years.

  2. What did you do before this job?

    Before coming to NU, I worked for Barclays Bank for 11 years in various roles, culminating in a job as a Trainer for the Branch Network, which I did for the last two years of my time there.

  3. Describe your route into training

    I'd always wanted to be a teacher when I was at school, as I enjoyed standing up in front of a group (I was into amateur dramatics in a big way!) and helping people to learn new things. After my Careers Master told me "don't be so bl**dy stupid, Deer, you can earn far more money out there than by teaching!", I kind of fell into Banking. However, when I got in the Bank and found that it wasn't the instantaneous route to fame and glory I'd been led to believe(!), I increasingly found myself giving presentations, training and coaching people
    - both one-to-one and in groups. Every time I went on a course, the Trainers seemed to encourage me to go into training more and more, and so when a job came up, I jumped at it and I've never looked back.

  4. Did you always want to work in training and development?

    See above.

  5. What would you say has been the most significant event in your career to date?

    Apart from meeting my future wife on a course, I'd say making the jump from Barclays to Norwich Union. Barclays' training team had given me an excellent grounding in training and trainer skills, but their setup was such that you either consulted, designed or delivered - there was no crossover and therefore limited opportunities to develop my skills across the full Training Cycle. Having done my Certificate in Training Practice, I found that I needed that opportunity to practice the full range of skills, and that I'd changed from being a Bank employee that did training, to become a Trainer that happened to work for a Bank. Now I'm a Trainer that works for an Insurance Company - and I do the full range of training and development work.

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

    Nowadays there is much more emphasis on "added value" - some of the work I did in Barclays had 'entertainment value', for want of a better way of putting it. Here, we focus on ensuring that the delegates get something that they can use in their real life, at the lowest cost - even if that means moving away from face-to-face delivery into e-learning or Workbook-based training.

  7. What single thing would improve your working life?

    If delegates' Line Managers would brief their staff in detail about the course that they are about to undertake, and help them to set development objectives both before and after - this would consolidate the learning that I am trying to impart with only a relatively short space of time to impart it.

  8. What's your favourite part of the TrainingZONE site? My use of the site tends to be prompted by reading the Newsletter and Any Answers, so I'd have to say that they are the most useful part of the service.

  9. Do you have any advice for those looking to embark on a career in training?

    Look for opportunities to train, coach and develop people as part of your day job. Not only does it help to prepare your own skills for the role, it adds value to your existing team and role, could lead to better salary progression and bonus payments (if you're doing more than is expected of you), and it may give you some fantastic examples to use if you have to do a Competency-Based Interview as part of the selection process for a training role.

  10. What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the trainer today?

    Striking a balance between cost-effectiveness and meeting the delegates' needs, based on their own learning style. There is a temptation to push all training onto CBT or Distance Learning - we need to make sure that this isn't seen as just a cost-cutting exercise, nor that we exclude those that cannot learn effectively that way.


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