10L: Niall Gavin

About Niall

I have been many things in my life – from fruit-picker, through postman, delivery driver, barman, professional actor, office manager, IT trainer, IT training manager and latterly, Head of Technology Assisted Learning in a global corporate. I’m currently working as a part-time Commercial Learning Consultant for the CIPD and a freelance Accreditation Mentor for the LPI, my two go-to professional bodies. I have learned, and now know, a little about a lot, and a lot about very little.

So, what do you do dear? (Describe your job to an elderly relative).

I help my colleagues at the CIPD identify what their customer’s learning needs are and then help them develop, deliver and prove the effectiveness of really good training that meets them. At the LPI, I look at client training providers’ whole business service, check that it meets the LPI standards and help them identify if there are any improvements that they could make to be even better, and help them get a nice shiny badge to prove it.

What was your favourite learning experience (Could be work, personal, school…anything is valid)?  What were you trying to do? Why did it work so well for you?

Learning to swim at the age of 21, in the confluence of two rivers behind the cottage I was living in in Dumfrieshire, with the support and encouragement of my touring theater company colleagues. I had been traumatised by swimming lessons at the local baths as a child, so this was a huge achievement for me. A few years later, again with help from my work colleagues, I learned to dive in – no Tom Daly stuff, just being able to dive in from the side head-first. What a rush that was! 

Enough already…What one thing do you wish people in your industry or profession would stop doing? (What gets your goat?)

Drop the patronising, dismissive  and – dare I say, smug – attitude in social media to others in the industry who haven’t yet ‘got it’. They’ll get there in their own time and should be nurtured and encouraged, not sneered at.

Same again please…What has changed for the better in your professional world as a result of COVID working practices? Should it be retained for the future (whenever that might be and whatever it might look like)?

Generally, ‘Digital Transformation’ finally became a reality, albeit not from choice, nor initially very well done. But it became real, no longer something that could just be paid ‘lip service’ to. The resistance barrier to remote and home working – the last refuge of the micro-manager – was breached and, for those who could, the tyranny of commuting was broken. Remote and online learning broke free from the historical association with lousy eLearning. However, there is more work to do here now, in terms of reviewing and adjusting this new reality, for everyone.

For myself, I was fortunate to start work at the CIPD on the week of the first COVID lockdown and, in the last two years, have been to the office three times. I continue to work primarily from home and, enabled by good tech and good tech support, expect that to continue. Similarly, all my LPI accreditation ‘visits’ were and are being conducted online, with no dilution of communication or outcomes.

From the good old days…What do you miss most about working life from the pre-COVID world? Do you think it will return?

Not a lot. I’m very happy with my current work/life balance.

Theft is the sincerest form of flattery…Which part of which other industry or profession do you think we should learn from and adopt (or just steal)?

Theatre and television. Theatre for rehearsal and preparation, learning from each ‘performance’, then adapting & developing each subsequent ‘performance’ – a continuous learning workflow. Television for production values and attention to detail. Both disciplines focussed entirely on the end-user.

You know who would be great for this…Which famous person (live or historical) do you want to join your team and why?

Eric Morecambe. A comedy genius, who made it look effortless and spontaneous, whereas every word, gesture and step was meticulously rehearsed and perfectly delivered. I wish I had had the opportunity to meet him in person; he seemed such a nice bloke.

If only I had…What did you learn from your most recent mistake?

Don’t overthink it. It can add complication, delay and risks alienating colleagues and customers (don’t ask!).

There can be only one…Which one tool or piece of kit would you keep if you could only use one from now on?

A notepad and pens.

The picture of success…Which image or picture is a good representation of how you would like to develop your practice over the next five years?

Niall Gavin smiling outdoors on a hike.
Niall Gavin

Where can we find you?

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