Thanks so much for your time for this short interview Susan – let’s fire away…
Where you are based for work and what do you do?
Edinburgh. I lead the Learning and Development team in an investment fund management company.
Did you specifically train for a specific job?
Yes, I deliberately chose psychology to study because I’m interested in why people do what they do and their context. In those days it was called Personnel Management and a general personnel role. Then I moved into Learning and Development and then Training Manager and then People Development, helping with new jobs, career development and so on.
What are you doing now? What’s a typical day?
I’m currently re-designing an appraisal process – it’s something completely new and I’m using illustrations to bring the appraisal to life. Other part of the day involve making sure the team have what they need – mostly objective setting at this time of year. It’s about making sure they get what they need. In the past it was face-to-face workshops, but now learners want it when and how they need it so therefore mostly via technology – there are far less workshops now. I’m interested in how we create the environment for learning – it’s transforming for the team, so we are at an early stage.
What are your aspirations for your career in the future?
That’s an interesting question. I don’t know what I want for the next step – if I stay where I am I don’t want the Head of HR job as it involves employment law which is not my specialism or interest. So, I’m not sure. I would like to continue to coach people in the organisation – I enjoy doing this.
Can you tell me about a defining moment of your career?
A long time ago I met a consultant who challenged me by asking why I wanted a job – it helped me realise I wanted to get the next job up to affirm my capability. This realisation made me think about what I really, really wanted to do – and the result was that it was for more important for me to be taking on more interesting work than just the next big job title.
Who helped you along the way? Did you have any other formal or informal mentors?
That same person has mentored me on and off over the years. He recently gave me a book about ‘being’ and not ‘doing’ – and funnily enough 15/16 yrs ago he gave me the same book! Perhaps I needed to be reminded. He has impacted my working life the most – and this has affected my attitude to life.
I should also mention that a friend and I provide coaching swap for each other. This has been really useful for both of us.
What a great idea! Have you changed direction in your career? Did you ever swerve off?
There was a time when I took time out and studied nutritional healing. I had got to a point when I felt work was just about making big businesses more money. But in the end I decided I missed the commercial side of my work and I returned to Learning and Development. I have kept the nutritional healing as a hobby.
Have you ever considered non-exec roles or boards?
No, I haven’t at all.
What helps you to stay interested/excited in what you do?
What keeps me interested and motivated is the learning of new things.
Thank you Susan – it was great to get a little insight to your career!