Who are we?

My picture has a city in the background representing destination, but taken from the countryside – route and options

Andrew Rea
I’m a trainer and writer with over 16 years experience in the learning and development field. Since becoming a freelancer in 2000 I have worked for a wide range of organisations in both the public and private sectors. If pushed I’d describe my specialism as being a generalist – especially in the soft skills and management. I am also the creator of the Ten Minute Trainer; helping organisations to become self-sufficient in designing short and effective bite-size training sessions.

Scariest Moment in a Training Room

Preparing a short training session for what I thought would be a group of five or six managers, only to arrive on the day and find that I was actually addressing a conference of 200+ sales staff!! I think the phrase is “winging it”!! (But they asked me back so I must have come across OK!)

Proudest Professional Moment

Seeing the first edition of The Compendium of Customer Service Training Games which I co-wrote with my friend Steven Cartrwright.
Fenman sent us the box and we took it to our favourite coffee shop to open. We were like a couple of kids oohhing and ahhhring at the best present ever.

Desert Island Luxury

A bathroom with hot water, nice soaps and fresh towels. I hope I can convince them about that being a luxury rather than being practical or useful.

Ambition Still to Fulfil

So many!! But one is to visit all 27 of the World Heritage sites in the UK and Ireland; that should keep me busy for a few years.

Traci Edwards

I chose this picture to represent allowing people to take time out when they need it, creating the space and setting to listen and of course, there’s cake, which clearly needs no explanation!

With a background in retail operations, and a move to a not-for-profit organisation after redundancy, I’ve enjoyed working in learning and development across sectors and in a range of different environments for the past ten years. Currently delivering  Coaching, Management Development programmes and Apprenticeships in Management and in Customer Service for a variety of clients, I travel about 25,000 miles a year covering  work settings as varied Care Homes in West London through to a famous Whisky Distillery in Norfolk….some days are clearly more fun than others!

Scariest moment in training

I was observing an external trainer delivering a session on Challenging Behaviour to a group of quite new Support Workers in a care organisation. She had run a high energy session, had effectively broken down some barriers and misunderstanding about the subject and had been receptive as well as informative about the subject…overall, a brilliant trainer in a difficult subject area. The closing session was a role play by the trainer who was acting out a situation with escalating levels of challenging behaviour. Having briefed the learners about how to tackle the situation in theory, I was delighted that she was offering the opportunity to try the tools in practice….until two of the biggest lads in the room decided to rugby-tackle her to the floor and restrain her by practically sitting on her, scaring everyone in the room and clearly demonstrating how little they had understood the training.

Proudest moment in training

At a conference towards the end of my last PAYE role just before I went freelance, the CEO gave a speech to the group saying that as their first ever Learning Manager, I’d helped the business move from a big – small company to a small – big company, at which point the entire room stood and applauded. Still brings tears to my eyes, thanks guys!

Luxury item

When I worked with a field based team, our measure of a great day was to be at home (for a change) and to be relaxing in pyjamas by 9pm, so my luxury item would be the full set – pyjamas, slippers and a fluffy dressing gown.

Still to achieve

Lots of things, including writing a book and saying something quotable…and on that subject, I saw this one recently which seems to fit nicely here…

“Dreams come a few sizes too big so we can grow into them. Be patient”

Jackie Clifford

I love the optimism of sunflowers and the way that they change direction to face the sun. The bee is all about sharing and planting seeds…

Back in the early 1990s I was working as Personnel Trainee for a well-known chain of department stores – they sent me on an “Instructional Techniques” course and I’ve never been the same since!!! I discovered how much I really enjoy not only delivering training, but also designing it too. Since that role I have had the privilege to work in a range of sectors and settings. I’ve trained in some fantastic places – and some interesting ones (if you know what I mean!) and I’ve met some truly fabulous people.

My greatest professional joy is to see someone believing that they can’t do something and then finding out that they can and that they may actually enjoy it  – whether that’s delivering a training session or having a difficult conversation with a member of their team.

My training style is very facilitative and I like nothing more than designing an activity where participants have time to do something and then think about what this might mean for them back in their workplace. Training is great – but if it doesn’t make a difference my question always is “what’s the point?”

Scariest moment in training

Working in the voluntary sector, four of us were on a training tour of Scotland. Two of us were sent off to the wilds of Fife one evening and we got lost… so we were late. We walked in to a room of about 30 ladies who didn’t look happy to see us – they’d all arrived on time! They then told us what they were expecting and it was completely different to what we’d planned. We then had to change the session there and then to try to cater for their needs. We did it – but it was very scary!!!!

Proudest moment in training

Like Andrew, it’s a publishing one… Sara and I have now written 3 books, but I think my proudest moment was when the lovely man at Kogan Page (thanks Phillip Mudd!) said “here’s the contract – sign here”!

Luxury item

A bath full of always-hot water, a good book and a big fluffy towel…

Still to achieve

Learn to play the piano which was a gift on my 40th birthday… and that’s a few years ago now!!!!

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Mahatma Gandhi

Sara Thorpe

For me, relaxation and rejuvenation comes from a long walk in the countryside. The sun on this picture is lighting up aspects of the world around us we might not see otherwise, giving us the choice to view the dark forest differently. The way I see it, that’s what learning is about….seeing things in a new light.

I fell into HR back in the 1980s when the Civil Service posted me as a fresh young graduate to a “Personnel Department”. A few years later, pacing the hills of Derbyshire trying to decide what to do with my career, I realised that whilst I loved people, I hated bureaucracy! I accepted a job as a trainer for an international charity and discovered my passion – helping people learn! Since then, I have worked for a range of different organisations including financial services, utilities, insurance and not for profit. I launched my own training business 6 years ago, specialising in business skills and management development; 4 years ago I added an HR advisory service for SMEs to the portfolio, which I see as an opportunity to further develop managers ability to successfully manage their people – it’s learning in the real world. It also gives me chance to use my MSc in Organisational Change. Together with Jackie, I have written 3 books and a number of articles, all about using a creative and flexible approach to learning within organizations.

Scariest Moment in a Training room

I was running an appraisal workshop with a group, who worked with a guy who had been on a leadership course the week before. The previous week had been very hot and as part of the course they had a number of outdoor leadership tasks to complete, including one which involved getting all the team members through a structure they had built as many times as possible within 10 minutes. To add a bit of motivation, we told them we gave a prize to the team that won the challenge – money to a charity of their choice. Of course competition trumped sense and several course members forgot the heat wave and their fitness levels , resulting in several course members being very out of breath and incredibly sweaty. As the appraisal group came in, I overheard them discussing this guy and that he had had a heart attack! For a few moments, I was terrified that we had killed someone! Turned out, it was someone else with the same name – and both were OK!

Proudest moment in training

Hearing one of those very difficult, awkward delegates tell their colleague a few months later what a fab course it was, how it had changed her life and what a good trainer I was! (if only she had told me sooner!)

Luxury item

I was going to have a bath, but it’s full with Jackie and Andrew! A big sofa in front of a large TV and no one arguing about what to watch.

Still to achieve

I want to go on a pottery course to learn how to make clay pots

Anne Cannings

I believe food is for sharing, and get great pleasure from cooking for, and sharing food with, others – what better way to relax and get to know people? This captures the essence of learning for me – experimenting with new ingredients, learning from mistakes, savouring the experience and enjoying the results. And there’s a few of my favourite things here too.

12 years ago I started my own consultancy to provide skills based training, learning and development services, and develop some earlier work on career coaching. This has provided some amazing opportunities to work with a wide range of sectors and people; each is different yet fundamentally the same – organisations are groups of people doing the best they can with the resources and skills available. This is the best part of my work – knowing that in some small way I’m helping someone else get more out of their job or life.

All this has given me further opportunities to develop; the career coaching and self development work is in draft for a book, there have been papers published on virtual team working and auditing the effectiveness of HR, and the consulting skills training is about to be launched for HR consultants.

Scariest Moment in a Training room

Happened quite recently; a little misunderstanding between a client and a third party meant that I turned up to run a two-day managing performance programme, only to find the overseas participants thought I was running two days on how to improve performance in the international airline industry. We managed to find some common ground and then spent a very productive two days exploring and planning for various commercial aspects of performance. The client was very happy in the end, but I did have visions of it being my shortest ever event and sending all the participants home abroad after about an hour – as that would be ample to cover what I know about airlines!

Proudest moment in training

Also happened quite recently, when at the end of a modular leadership programme one of the participants spontaneously gave a short speech, and presented me with a thank you card. They had all signed it with comments on how the training had developed them in their careers or as a person, and how much the training had meant to them. The card is on permanent display at home; I am touched not so much by the card but by the things they have all written.

Luxury item

Well everyone’s got the baths, PJs and comfy sofas, so mine is a non-stick dish, and a decent oven; I’m used to cooking popcorn on an open fire, but cakes need baking!

Still to achieve

Oh so many things………but I’ll settle for a gap year, or two; there’s still so much of the world to see and other cultures to experience.

Leave a Reply

Created by trainers for trainers