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Spotlight: We shine the light this week on Jooli Atkins


Photo of Jooli AtkinsJooli Atkins talks to about her passion for trainer training, the challenge she often faces in 'proving' the benefit of her work, and her fear that IT training may become even more impersonal than it already is.

Name: Jooli Atkins
Age: Old enough to know better than to tell you (47, if you must know)
Job title: IT training professional

Brief description of the job that you do:

I run an IT training company designing, developing and delivering performance-based training to end users for system and process projects as well as providing project management for training projects. My passion is in developing and delivering our trainer training programme, which incorporates the best of accelerated learning techniques in a structure that allows performance to be enhanced whilst learning is made enjoyable and effective.

What do you love best about your job?

Making a difference to system users and subject-matter experts who are asked to train them. In-house systems are often developed without users in mind but focusing on the technical solution rather than its impact on users. Internal subject-matter experts are then asked to train users on a new system because they understand the business process. I love helping them to be better learning facilitators and developing learning events that are totally user-focused to really make a difference to the user's performance.

What do you find most challenging?

I am technically competent enough to provide a bridge between the technical IT solution and its end users but my work in that area is rarely valued by 'technical' teams. I find the challenge of 'proving' the benefit of my work with end users most satisfying.

What's the best advice that you would give to someone new to training?

In IT training particularly, focus on outcomes that will increase performance and benefit the organisation, avoiding training for the sake of training. Consider the benefits and not just the features offered to us by IT solutions.

What's the best advice that's been given to you that has helped you in your career?

"It's not about you, it's about them." Presentation is only part of the skill of a trainer, making the learning live for each individual is what is really important.

How do you see IT training developing over the next few years?

Sadly, I think that it will be become even more impersonal than it is already with learning events being delivered remotely. Only if the industry remembers that on the receiving end of its interventions is a human being, will remote delivery become what it is capable of being. On a better note, I believe that the industry appears to be moving towards training for performance rather than simply task-based training, with business outcomes clearly in mind.

What's the best career help book that you've ever read?

'The Trainer's Pocketbook' by John Townsend. My love of Management Pocketbooks began with that one and culminated with my writing of the 'IT Trainer's Pocketbook' in 2003.

What's the best event within the training community that you've ever attended?

The IT Training Awards when a project I had worked with for some time won Bronze in the Internal Project of the Year category and one of Matrix FortyTwo's trainers won the Trainer of the Year Gold award. These awards, run by the Institute of IT Training provide the recognition that IT training deserves in the training community.

Who do you think is the most inspirational member of the training community and have you ever met them?

Colin Rose, the founder of Accelerated Learning – never met him but would love to.

What else would you like to share with our members?
Believe in your learners. Learning is a voluntary activity and if you trust people to learn and give them an environment in which they feel safe to do so, they will.


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