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Ten questions for a training manager – Peter Charlesworth, Freeserve


Peter CharlesworthFreeserve logo

Peter Charlesworth, Training Manager - Customer Contact at PLC, answers our Ten Questions.

1. How did you come to work in training?

I first got involved as a Customer Service rep, being interested in training new starters, purely because I had the most knowledge! I got an opportunity to join HR as a Development Consultant, my first foray into management! It was a steep learning curve but I think I had the right aptitude otherwise I wouldn’t still be doing it! After 3 years of that I moved into IT as communications & training manager and now, 8 years on from those first CSA days I am Training Manager for Customer Contact at Freeserve.

2. Describe your role.

My role is to ensure that all Freeserve people in customer contact have the skills they need to be able to delight our customers. It involves setting a training strategy and lots of TNA! I also ensure that communications are what they need to be into customer contact and that all training required is of a requisite standard, whatever that might be.

3. What activities do you spend most of your time on?

TNA, Strategy & Planning training programs & training design. Setting groundwork for building a training team!

4. Is training in your organisation mainly organised according to a strategic plan, or mainly arranged when a need has become evident?

A combination of the two! Currently there are some strategic requirements, but primarily there is a lot that just ‘comes up’. I expect to change this to be a more strategic approach to development / training.

5. Is any of your training accredited by external bodies?

Not at the moment, it is something I will look at in the future though.

6. Do you feel that training has a high enough profile in your organisation?

Probably not. As a whole, I think people development is fairly high on the agenda for individuals. What I think is missing is the awareness of potential impact on the business of new projects and initiatives and their training requirements.

7. How do you demonstrate the value of your department to your organisation?

Difficult to say at the moment as I am still building my ‘department’ but I expect the benefits will become evident. I would expect to demonstrate enhanced customer satisfaction, reduction of overall training costs and greater productivity.

8. What influences do you think have had the greatest impact on the training sector in recent years?

I would say E-learning has a big impact, it is a cheap(ish) solution to delivering training using the web to many different sites. It’s not ideal for all things, but can be really effective if used in the right context. I also think that training professionals' awareness that classroom style presentations are not the holy grail has helped a lot. Development should be fun and not a chore!

9. Do you think that training professionals should have a greater say in planning national training policy?

Absolutely, we are the people with lots of hands on knowledge, it seems foolish not to take full advantage of that.

10. How do you see your work changing or developing in the next few years?

Tricky one, as I’m only at the beginning of this role I can’t see a huge amount beyond the next year! I would suspect that I will take up more of a strategic and planning role in the business, influencing future programs and projects at the beginning. It will be more of this and less delivery/design I would expect, assuming of course, my current plans go through!

TrainingZONE is interested in featuring more personal experiences of what the role of Training Manager or Training Officer involves. If you'd like to share your experiences or answer our questions, let us know!.


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