Life after Study!

My dissertation was finally submitted a week ago now. I can’t quite believe it is all over. Seems like yesterday since I started this degree and now I’ve finished. It’s a great feeling though and I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my career.

Before I move on – a big thanks to everyone who helped with my research. The project was a lot more challenging than I had first anticipated and finding participants was difficult, but I think my findings were interesting and I hope it will prove useful for those trying to understand why many computer science graduates end up unemployed. I now have a couple of months to wait for the results before I can share my report with those who are interested in reading it and then a few more months to wait before I get to finally graduate (assuming I’ve passed of course!). Continue Reading…

#SocialHRMcr – The Weapon of Mass Inclusion

Perry Timms speaking about the Weapon of Mass Inclusion

This post was originally found on my business blog and has been reposted here in May 2015.

On Thursday 16th March, Manchester’s CIPD Branch held a fantastic event #SocialHRMcr at Lancashire County Cricket Club. Many HR professionals and other interested folk gathered together to discuss the use of social media in the workplace.

An innovative combination of conference and unconference, it was great to not only listen to some of the leaders in the exciting world of social HR, but I also enjoyed the opportunity to share my love of social whilst participating in the lively discussions that followed.

Weapon of Mass Inclusion

One of the key moments in the conference for me was @PerryTimms declaring Social Media as the “weapon of mass inclusion”.

I completely agree. The accessibility and inclusiveness of social media and social technology is one of the reasons I believe it has so much power to bring about change and why I believe we should adopt a social mindset in the workplace. Continue Reading…

Finding a Focus

Ever since I started my master’s back in November, I’ve been thinking about the impending dissertation and the topics I might like to research. Whereas I dreaded my undergrad dissertation, this time around I have been looking forward to the research element most of all. There is so much about the world of work and talent that I want to understand better and the opportunity to spend three months looking at some of these issues in depth is exciting. I have worked on research projects over the past few years, but rarely have I had time to really dive deep into an issue and try to truly understand it. The ‘real world’ moves quicker than academia and often demands answers and insight in a few days, rather than a few months.

Now the taught part of my course is behind me, it is time to make a decision on my research focus. The only problem is I can’t decide. Continue Reading…

Further Focus on Future Talent (Part 2)

This post was originally found on my business blog and has been reposted here in May 2015.

My last post Focussing on Future Talent gave an overview of my morning at the Future Talent Now conference on 9th July. Here is the follow up to that post giving a recap of the afternoon’s sessions.

After lunch, Rushanara Ali MP, the Shadow Minister for Education stepped up to the stage to deliver a speech on ‘Developing an inclusive approach to future talent’. Considering my interest in inclusion and the skills agenda, I had high hopes for this session but was left disappointed and turned off by the party political rhetoric and pre-scripted nature of her speech. Rushanara spoke about some important issues including the lack of social mobility within our society and the need for meaningful vocational pathways into the world of work (ironic considering her degree in PPE from Oxford), but her politics and delivery overshadowed the key messages. Unfortunately I don’t think she was helped by the post-lunch slump in energy and it did feel like some of the buzz had escaped through the glass ceiling at the Opera House.

Alex Lowe from Google was next. I would confess to being a Google fan girl, so perhaps I’m biased, but I enjoyed the session even if it did seem like a sales pitch to some. Alex talked about some of the key trends in workplace technology and how employers need to keep up with changes such as the rising number of people searching for jobs on mobiles or the arrival of digital natives in the workplace. Alex Lowe also showed a fantastic video from Heineken really illustrating the power of social media to tell stories to engage with your employees and potential hires. A useful introduction to the world of collaborative technology, I think this was an important session.

Before the afternoon break, Marc de Leyritz gave some of his insights into good leadership. I sadly can’t remember the exact thread of Marc’s speech and it seems people were too busy listening to actually tweet, so I can’t rely on the twitter feed to fill me in, but I know he spoke about authenticity and humility, both qualities I expect in the best leaders. I think he also spoke about how the outside image, may not always be the same as the inside one. This is another session I would like to watch again, so I could reflect upon it some more.

Matthew Hancock MP, then minister for Skills and Enterprise, now Minister of State for Business and Enterprise, was the second politican of the day to stand up behind the lectern and deliver a pre-prepared speech. Less party-political than Rushanara Ali, but delivered with all the passion of a potato, his speech on ‘Fostering inspiration in young people about their future employment’ was less than inspiring. Largely a collection of sound bites, he did talk about the importance of employers engaging with young people and some great work in this space by organisations such as Movement to Work and Plotr. He spoke about positive changes within education, which include the inclusion of post-school outcomes in league tables. He also talked about the return of the apprenticeship and how they will be a route to success for young people. It was good to get a sense that progress is being made, but it would be nice to hear someone speak about these issues with passion and deep knowledge and understanding, rather than another politican parroting a dull speech with little substance.

The panel discussion with CEO of Changeboard and Plotr, Jim Carrick-Birtwell, the CIPD’s Katerina Rudiger, who leads the Learning to Work Campaign and Kirstie Mackey, who is head of Barclays’ LifeSkills programme, seemed to end up being less a panel discussion and more a basic introduction into the three different programmes, with each speaker talking in turn. However it was interesting to hear about some of the great work being done to tackle issues related to employability and careers advice for young people and although I was already aware of all three programmes, I am glad more is being done to raise awareness of these resources.

Finally the day was brought to a close with a round of “thank yous” to those involved and most people headed upstairs and onto the balcony for an opportunity to network and discuss the highlights of the day. I left a while later and headed towards my train, weary but excited about the opportunities to make an impact upon these issues.

Overall, I found the day really engaging and inspiring. These are often words which get over-used when talking about events like these, but it really was one of the best events I’ve been to.

I do think the afternoon was let down a little by the two politicians. The room lost its buzz after Rushanara Ali and struggled to get it back during the rest of the afternoon. I really think both MPs could learn a lot from the other speakers about how to deliver an engaging keynote without having to resort to a script. Someone on the LinkedIn group suggested that I shouldn’t bash the politicians because they need to be engaged in the debate and at least they came. My response to that was I agree they need to be at these events – they are elected and paid to do just this, but I didn’t see them engaging in the debate. They both turned up to deliver a pre-prepared speech full of sound-bites and party political campaigning and then left. When they were asked questions at the end of their session, finally having a chance to show they are listening and engaged, one was visibly shaken by it and the other just dodged around the subject. I suggested it might be nice to organise a panel discussion at future events in the format of Question Time, with politicians banned from using pre-prepared notes, taking challenging questions from the floor. Then they would have no choice but to truly listen and engage with the topic. I expect this actually could scare them off though!

That aside, the day really got me thinking about the big challenges around youth unemployment and the mis-match between employer expectations and young people’s skills. I realised how interesting I find working in this area. Prior to leaving Accenture earlier this year, I worked on the Skills to Succeed team and was involved with the Movement to Work campaign and also conducted research alongside e-skills UK, thinking about how the IT industry could encourage young people (digital natives) into careers in technology. Some of this work is now being brought to life with the foundation of The Tech Partnership by a number of leading technology employers. I find this hugely exciting and hope this is another sign that employers will be playing a greater role in helping young people into the world of work in future.

CIPD L&D Show 2014 Thoughts

This post was originally found on my business blog and has been reposted here in May 2015.

I had a fantastic time this week at the CIPD L&D Show and have enjoyed tweeting my reaction over the last couple of days. You can read my live tweets from the show over on twitter – @lellielesley. I hope to gather the key highlights together on storify soon.

Sadly the first day felt a little disappointing. Some of the workshop sessions did not live up to high expectations and I was a little disappointed by the lack of innovation on show. There was a lot of good practice, but nothing which really struck me as truly innovative or impressive. It was all a bit predictable.

Thankfully I was revitalised by the CIPD and #LDConnect tweetup on Wednesday evening. Meeting fellow learning and development professionals who share my passion for innovation, social learning and collaboration was energising and I had some really interesting conversations. I was not the only person there who had recently left the corporate world to embark upon self-employment and it was also good to share experiences and learn from others who had gone it alone a long time ago. Overall, it was clear there was a supportive community and I hope to develop stronger links within this community in future.

I went into Day 2 feeling re-energised and hoping it would deliver beyond my expectations. Thankfully it did.

The day got off to a great start with an inspiring session from Google. Their culture embodies everything which I am passionate about at work – innovation, collaboration and authenticity. People are encouraged to be themselves and to follow their passions. They are a social organisation, learning from each other. The session was really interesting and it was great to hear about the scientific approaches Google apply to encouraging collaboration – the idea that the dinner queue needs to be an exact length to encourage employees to talk to each other was fascinating.

After this, I enjoyed a session from Visa and Telefonica on their early talent programmes. It was great to hear practical examples of how Visa have made their apprenticeship programmes work for them and it was nice to see two organisations presenting a coherent presentation together, rather than two separate case studies delivered without any thought to how the presentation should work as a whole.

The final session I attended was focussed on one of my favourite subjects – social learning and technology, looking at how two organisations (Bromford Group and SantaFe Group) had introduced enterprise social media for learning. I was particularly impressed by Michelle Parry-Slater’s presentation as it was clear from the energy and enthusiasm in her voice that she shared my passion for this way of learning. The platform she introduced, Fuse looks to have a lot of potential and I hope to learn more about it in future.

After this, I found myself stood in front of a camera crew talking about my career and thoughts upon my CIPD student membership as part of a series of members videos they were filming. I volunteered to take part on a whim after the CIPD put out a request for participants on twitter, but once I actually got in front of the camera I was starting to regret that decision. Hopefully the final video will be worth it.

The journey home was a long and tiring one, but my head was buzzing with ideas about the future of learning and development and all the exciting things I had learnt. I can’t wait to put some of these ideas into practice.