Q&A with Nicola Eastwood, Head of Learning & Development
What inspired you to start a career in L&D
My first job – I joined a business in a sales role and attended my day one induction. I was inspired by the energy, passion and positivity of the person delivering the session. She was knowledgeable and engaging and confirmed my decision that this was the job and place to work. I wanted to create that environment for others – I have never forgotten it, so I know memorable training is also a plus!
Do you think sector experience is important when joining a businesses L&D team?
I believe that a passion to drive people development is a must and of course sector knowledge is key to set you up for success. You will learn each and every day as you emerge yourself into a business, build relationships and call on the expertise to develop this further. Everyone has their craft and in L&D, it’s about enabling people to fulfill their potential, facilitating the right environments to bring out the best in people, and providing the relevant resources to reach goals – this for me is the gold.
How has technology changed the way you work?
Technology has supported and blended the approach to learning, it provides the ‘just in time’ learning for those that want it now or just a short burst of learning. E-learning, virtual sessions and social learning are all part of the package to embed and influence how we develop knowledge, skills and change behaviours.
Working for a European company, do you see any differences in your approach across different languages/countries?
I have worked in two international businesses and experienced a variety of cultures. For me it comes down to recognising differences, creating a common language and immersing teams into the business culture. Bringing teams together to share is key, you may set the agenda or you may have them decide, but just be clear on the expectations. The dynamics of a multilingual and international business provides so many wonderful learning opportunities on a professional and personal level.
What is the biggest challenge L&D professionals face?
Maintaining involvement of management teams. The manager’s role ensures that any training or development is a success, it needs to be supported and encouraged pre and post any development activity. Emphasis on management development is key in any business to ensure it supports and gets the return on investment, training is not a magic solution to fix anyone.
How do you anticipate the market changing over the next 3-5 years?
One thing 2020 showed organisations is the need to be agile with the right skills and knowledge to work in different environments or support a variety of workloads. L&D teams must continue to create learning opportunities that support their organisations in increasingly dynamic business conditions. Focus on social learning and prioritising personalised learning paths that keep everyone involved through good communication and collaboration channels. L&D can facilitate the opportunities and use technology to provide interactive and blended learning approaches. L&D is central to supporting the people strategy and is the key to success for staff engagement, retention and business growth
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in L&D?
If you are driven by variety and working with people, L&D is for you. L&D is more than just ‘training’, it should be part of any successful business’s strategic success. If you enjoy enabling, developing and witnessing personal and professional growth of individuals, teams and business, you should go for it.