L&D QuestionTime – Sheena Whyatt

In your opinion what is the biggest anxiety within the world of learning and development at the moment?

Making sure you are getting the best bang for your learning development budget buck.

Without a doubt, learning professionals are having to prove their worth ten times over just now, particularly in the intensively competitive world of training provision that I occupy.  Proving to potential buyers that your services as a learning professional can add value to their business is a key skill to ensure that buyers want to engage with boutique training providers, and there are other anxieties that weave into that, such as quality control, engagement, range of scope & ability, and programme management.  Reassuring buyers that you have the ability to work with them to find a learning solution instead of just providing a quick fix is essential to establishing those learning partnerships, establishing relationships with trusted suppliers to create an environment which proves that their investment in learning is well placed, well provided & well serviced.

Who or what is informing your thinking around L&D?

This is hard question to answer.  There are not many leading figures out there that are relevant to my section of the learning world – but, there are plenty of folks I admire, like Denise Hudson Lawson, Greg Pearson, Kim George, Julie Wedgewood & Martin Baker, just to name a few – it would be great if smaller training providers had a bigger voice, and weren’t overshadowed by the bigger corporates, so maybe I need to start shouting louder!

What is the most exciting innovation on the horizon for learning?

I can see the potential of wearable gadgets to help provide a sensory learning experience, particularly in the development of personal Heads Up Display devices that interact with your environment – but how this would be implemented and the level of engagement from end users?  Not sure.  Despite constantly being asked for ‘cutting edge learning techniques’, ‘blended solutions’ & ‘innovative delivery’, when it comes down to it, buyers want what they know – dynamic & interactive delivery from subject matter experts who know their stuff.  Not some whizz bang set of PowerPoint slides rebranded as eLearning.

What “game changers” would you like to see and why?

Now – there’s a question!

I would love learning buyers to engage with their providers as solution managers, not just order takers.  I would love to see relationships being created and trusted partnerships developed between internal buyers & teams and external suppliers.  For this to happen, another game changer would need to take place, and that is for buyers to look past the big corporates and recognise that smaller providers can offer them a more personal service and solution.

I could actually bang on about this for hours, but in a nutshell – that’s it!

What do you think the world of L&D will look like by 2020?
I think we’ll see a shift towards personal learning rather than corporate learning – addressing individual needs through ‘anytime, anywhere’ learning – but without a general shift in thinking towards solution provision I don’t see radical change in the next 5 years.

What advice would you give your 21 year old self?

Blimey.  Loads.  Not least of which to avoid the fright perm.  But that’s another story.

When I was 21 I was working as a receptionist for a social services department.  And I hated it.  So I’d have told myself not to worry about the small stuff so much and say yes to more opportunities.  I’d also have told myself to hang on in there – marrying my RAF pilot husband at 23 was the start of an adventure that eventually brought me to where I am today – and not all of that was easy – but here I am, and still enjoying the journey!

About Sheena Whyatt

Sheena is the founder and Managing Director of Lightning Training Limited  and leads the company with a firm belief in the importance of using training as a valuable tool to bring benefits to clients, new and old.

Connect with Sheena on twitter @lightningtrain 

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