This is the transcript of episode 8
Click here to visit the full episode page and listen to the interview.
Welcome to this week’s episode of the Hired Trainer.com podcast.
Did you find last week’s episode with Kevin M Yates useful? I know I certainly did.
It gave me pause to think not just about what I’m doing to convince myself that my training programs are working, but what evidence, what proof am I providing to my clients that they’re generating a return on investment from programmes which I both design and deliver.
Today, on a separate subject, we have Karen Winfield on the show.
Karen Winfield is Global Operations Director of PD Training, an international training business headquartered in Brisbane in Australia.
Karen runs a team of approximately 300 trainers across Asia and further afield, and she’s kindly agreed to give us time out of her busy day to tell us what she does and what she looks for when hiring new trainers to join her team.
This is Episode 8 of the Hired Trainer.com podcast. Thanks again for your time today.
Today’s guest is Karen Winfield.
Karen is Global Operations Director of PD Training based in Brisbane in Australia.
Let’s dive in.
Karen, thanks for coming on the programme.
Thanks, Mark. Good to be here.
You’re based in Brisbane, Australia.
How is life down under this morning?
It’s a fine early morning, a Tuesday morning. It’s a new financial year here in Australia so it’s a busy time of year.
What does that mean exactly?
So what that means for a training industry is that the end of financial year is a massive rush.
A lot of companies like to release their funds before the end of the financial year and then for the new financial year it’s all the planning and what they’re going to do with their new round of funding.
I was training in the south Pacific, including Papua New Guinea and Samoa in 2015 and I was very fortunate to spend a few days in Brisbane before making the trip back to Europe.
For the little time I was there, Brisbane struck me as a really great city and very liveable.
What it’s like to run an international training business from Brisbane?
Brisbane’s classified as a very small city compared to the likes of Sydney and Melbourne and if we were to have a Head Office in Singapore or America, but I suppose what’s very fortunate for us because we are a small city, that it’s very easy to travel.
Therefore your staff do want to come to the city to work.
Therefore we have a close knit team.
Previously we weren’t based in the city. We were based out of the city and we found that a lot of us were working from home, which is good to have a flexible work environment but it’s always good to connect again and get back face to face.
So we have a lot more connection time here in our Head Office team.
And how did you personally become involved in training, Karen?
If I was to go way back, 20 plus years when I started, I started off as an accountant and my first role was an assistant accountant.
We deployed a new accounting package called Accpac.
Now this is showing my age because it no longer exists.
The company that deployed it could see that I had quite an interest in it and I became a bit of a spokesperson in the workplace and I was educating and helping the rest of the team.
That company then said would I like to go and join them and become a trainer?
So pretty much my first year out of university, I moved into the training sphere as such, and I became an ‘Accpacer’, an accounting package trainer.
And then it moved on from there.
It was back in the IT days before the 2000’s, so there was a lot of requirement for IT training.
So, I then moved into IT training.
Then I worked on projects and I always found that I became the trainer.
I was based in the UK for quite a few years and I was a Project Manager and I was working for the QinetiQ Group.
I’ve always found, even though I was a Project Manager, the part that I loved was the training aspect, and at that point in time it was just a small part.
When I came back to Australia I decided that it was time to take my small bits and pieces of being a trainer into being a full-time trainer.
Therefore, I was lucky enough to be thrown into a role where I was a trainer of a different topic five days a week, and I did that for a good few years before I decided that I didn’t find that to be the right model for a trainer – to be a ‘jack-of-all trades’, and not a specialist.
I thought, “One day I’m going to have a training organization where I’m going to utilize training specialists to do the training.”
Are you one of the founders of the company?
I am. Correct.
So, you’re currently Global Operations Director according to your LinkedIn profile, which is where I came across you.
What exactly does that entail?
I’m a lucky one, so not only do I love training, I also love travelling.
Therefore, my role is to engage trainers globally.
We started in Australia eight years ago and were fortunate that one of our first employees was American and they moved back to America and said, “You need to bring PD Training over to America.”
So, us being very green and naïve, went “Sure, why not? If we can do it in Australia, we can do it in America. And plus, it’s a place I like to travel, so let’s put it on the radar.”
And then from there, after testing the model in a new country, we knew it was very ‘doable’.
So, then we started to set up in the likes of Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines and recently in the UK.
We found once you could do it once, the model was just replicable.
So, with technology nowadays, for me to find a global network of trainers, I do find to be quite easy.
I wouldn’t have been able to do it 20 years ago.
Technology has allowed us to work from one office and manage another country in another time zone, so technology has really helped us become where we’re at today.
My role as Global Operations Director means that I get to go to the new countries.
This is the fun part!
I set them up and I then find all the trainers to be in our network, get them ‘on-boarded’ and understand our processes and our course material and get them to work on behalf of PD Training.
Right. How many trainers, coaches or consultants work with PD Training?
At the moment we have a couple of hundred.
A couple of hundred means that there’s probably a hundred that would see us as their number one provider.
So, in Australia we would have quite a few trainers that would do four to five days a week with us and then you would have the next hundred that might get one to two days a week, and then you might have the next hundred that might get one a month or one every quarter.
Right. Where are they typically from?
We avail of trainers locally. For instance in Australia in Brisbane. If I’ve got a client in Brisbane, I will use the Brisbane-based trainer first.
It doesn’t mean to say we won’t travel, but we always say that trainers are good at training, not good at travelling and they like to get paid and they get paid for training rather than travelling.
So, we use local trainers as much as possible, so therefore in Singapore when we’ve got Singapore clients, it’s a case of hiring Singapore-based trainers.
Is it tricky managing so many trainers across so many locations?
Yes and no.
We have different operations team members managing the trainers.
The tricky part is making sure that we have the right trainer for the right client, the trainer with the right background and the trainer with the right experience.
So, we’re forever looking for more trainers to join our network, and the more trainers that come on board then it’s making sure that our sales team are familiar with them.
So, it’s just making sure that we’re all ‘on top of’ who are our trainers and in what country and what their expertise is.
So, I think we’ll come back to the trainers and what you look for later on in the conversation.
Let’s focus for a moment on your business.
What does PD Training, to give it its full title, Professional Development Training actually do?
We deliver your business skills materials.
So, for instance, it could be communication skills, time management, emotional intelligence, leadership, supervising others.
I think we offer over 200. However, we would have a better top 30 that we find no matter what country we go to, we have a top 30 set of core skills that professionals are looking for.
Our course materials are built around a psychometric profiling tool called LDP – Leaning Dimensions Profile and what’s quite unique for us at PD Training is we own this psychometric profiling tool.
We have joined forces with the creator, Professor Doug Waldo, who’s based in the US and we have built that into our course materials.
So, we’re in a very fortunate position, which I believe is ahead of other training organizations, where we can steer the research and development of our psychometric profiling tool in accordance with culture, in accordance with evolvement, and therefore our materials are built around that, so it’s continually evolving as well.
Right. You mentioned that PD Training’s in operation eight years. Is that right?
What’s the journey been like so far?
It’s been a big one!
Lots of lessons along the way.
Lots of interesting facets.
Lots of personal lesson as well.
I think that when you start off in a business you are so full of energy and nothing can go wrong and it’s full of excitement because everything’s new.
Then when you get given an opportunity like taking it to America when you’re only about 18 months old, you jump at these opportunities.
It’s a new ‘shiny thing’ – why not? We can do it.
And because you’ve got the energy at the time, you don’t really realize the impact that’s having on your original vision of what you’re trying to achieve, like we were in Australia.
So, we got a little bit sidelined and our minds were stretched too far.
We still are learning our own processes. We’re still learning who our target market is. We’re still getting our systems in place.
So therefore, going to something new was probably too soon.
I think about two to three years into the business, myself and my business partner, Paul Findlay – I’ll speak for myself perspective right now I probably had massive burnout because it was a ’new baby’.
When you have a new baby you don’t sleep until it sleeps.
So, for the first two years I was probably working seven days a week, night and day, and at this stage we’d already taken on America so we were literally doing night and day. We were the staff managing the American enquiry.t
Therefore, you can imagine you go through that burnout phase and then you go,” Okay, we’ve got to work out what’s our core again.”
So, then we had to scale back and then we scaled back to having a satellite in the US and not an office and having our core focus back on Australia because it was still growing rapidly, and we needed to make sure we were servicing it appropriately.
Once we got that into place, we brought our focus back to being very streamlined.
Then we got our processes in place.
Then we started hiring the right people to help us and we started to slow down to get everything right and then we started to grow into the Asian market.
So, I think that you go fast, you get a big learning that probably knocks your socks off for a little bit, that gets you to stop and think. Slow down and get your processes and systems right again, and then go into the next leap.
So that’s been a massive learning curve for me to sometimes say, “No,” and waiting is the right thing to do.
And your website indicates that PD Training is a New Zealand business partner, (that’s New Zealand government business partner), a Singapore registered government supplier, a Queensland (which is a region in Australia) government approved supplier, a human resources development fund Malaysia supplier.
Without giving confidential information away, what kind of work might a trainer be doing working with clients such as these?
It can be a full range.
I indicated before we have a program of top 30 courses, so when we start to partner with companies like you’ve indicated, it’s not necessary taking that course off the shelf or that course off the website.
They’re partnering with us first to go in and potentially develop materials specifically for them based off what they’ve seen on the outline on the website, but we’re partnering with them for a year, two years, three years.
So, they’re looking for a range of our products, but developed to be specifically for them internally.
You mentioned there’s a top 30 right now.
That really makes me curious because I get all kinds of opinions on this.
What is ‘hot’ or in demand right now in the training space from your perspective, Karen?
Communication skills and emotional intelligence is always there.
In Australia our number one at the moment, which is at the forefront of every conference that you go to, is resilience training. Having the ability to be resilient.
So, let’s define resilience? Just to give you a brainteaser on Tuesday morning.
Yeah, I find it interesting because I’ve got three young children in primary school and everything’s about resilience and I think they’re less resilient now than they ever have been.
It’s the ability to bounce back in a fast-changing world.
Here at PD Training we’re still a small team. We’re a global operation but we’re a team of 25.
We’re changing because the business owners, myself and Paul, are working in the business every day, we have the ability to change and you’ve got to change. You’ve got to adapt and if your team can’t come with you on that journey, you’re only as strong as your weakest link in the team.
We need to make sure they can bounce back when something goes wrong.
We need to know that they can step up when we want to make that change.
So, resilience for us, we’ve got our own material and we’ve got a training course happening today here for the internal team called PPA which is Productive People Advantage.
A lot of the course material is based about being resilient, being mindful in the work place, having some gratitude.
All of those attributes not only create a happier life for an individual, but also creates you with the skill set to be able to work in the ever-changing world that we’re in at the moment.
Do you think that resilience is in any way linked to a specific personality type? The reason I ask that is because I’m a big fan of a pretty well-known tool called 16 Personalities, which in turn is based upon the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
Do you think that resilience – I know it’s a hard topic – but is that something which is innately found in a specific person or profile?
That’s a good question and no, I think it depends on circumstances sometimes because I find myself to be a very resilient individual.
I would say I’m quite a bit of a driver and I’m used to getting the knockbacks, so therefore I’m used to going, “Well, I’m going to prove you wrong and try again.”
So, I have that innate resilience ability, but there’ll be sometimes when a certain circumstance will knock me, and I don’t find I have that same level of resilience.
This is just a personal perspective, and I think some personality types have the ability to bounce back easier than others.
From some of the training which I’ve delivered – and I had the opportunity to deliver resilience recently – I was surprised that from a group of 25 people, I reckon I could identify which individuals were more resilient.
Therefore, I do think we’re born with it. We can learn it, but I think we’re born in a certain level of it.
Or maybe it’s just that experience shapes that in some people. People literally bounce back, or they don’t, I suppose.
It’s a very important skill, isn’t it, in this day and age given the demands that professionals are put under with all kinds of things drawing on our attention every day?
For sure. For sure, I agree.
Looking at your website again, you’ve got something on there called The Three Hour Power Training Session.
Would you care to explain exactly what that is?
Traditionally, training was always one-day, two-day, three-day in (duration).
However, in a competitive market, we’re not always in a position – or companies aren’t always in a position – to have their whole team off for a day.
To be honest, sometimes in a whole day worth of training, you’re probably only getting maybe three hours of full attention from an individual.
So, the Three Hour Power Sessions concept is built on that, meaning that we’re going to give you three hours sharp interaction.
That means that these are high-energy, high-impact and therefore we’re hoping to get the best return for you and your company. And also knowing that you’re not having your whole team or certain members of your team away from the office for a full day.
So, it’s a form of micro learning, I guess?
I wouldn’t say micro-learning because they’re still getting the depth of knowledge required but in essence, in a shorter time frame, but they might just be splitting up a two day course over four half day sessions.
It’s just whatever fits with the competing needs of a business, so we just have to be more adaptable now than ever.
Right. So, an organization might take three hours in a particular subject and then the following day take three hours in something allied to that?
Is that how that works?
Yeah, could definitely be like that.
Something else which struck my fancy – if that’s the phrase – is Fish. Fish Team Building.
What exactly is Fish Team Building?
You haven’t heard of it?
No, I haven’t.
You’re taking me back a bit. Fish is a team building product that was created in the 80’s I believe.
80’s and 90’s in Seattle, so it’s still got a massive following.
It’s American. It was built in Seattle. I’m not sure if you’ve been to Seattle, but they had a fish market, I think on the sixth floor of this building. All you’re doing is working in fish blood and guts and smell all day, and so they decided, “Well, if we’re coming to the workplace every day, I’m going to choose to be happy.”
So it’s built around four elements and you’re testing me and I don’t have the website up.
One is to choose to be happy.
One is to be there for others.
One is to have fun.
It’s now become a tourist attraction. People go there and what happens if you might yell, “I’ll have one pike,” and the people behind the counter, the employees would go, “Oh, one pike to the lady in yellow up the back.” And they’ll yell out, “One pike to the lady in the yellow up the back.”
And so, then the person closest to the pike would pick the pike up, throw it to another staff member and then throw it out to the lady in the yellow, and if she catches it they ring the bell and it’s all a big Yahoo!
But it was all about having fun in the workplace.
So, the more you have fun in the workplace, the more you’re going to want to be there and the quicker the time flies and the job gets done.
So, I’m going to definitely include that in the show notes for people listening to this and I’m really going to find out more about that because that intrigues me.
I also came across on Vimeo which is a really good video hosting platform, something called The Fast- Five Series where my first impression was that you showcase some of your trainers, and that’s very interesting.
What is The Fast-Five Series all about?
As a trainer, when I was a contract trainer myself, I found that I very much worked by myself. As a contract-trainer you’re competing against every other training in the state or the country or the world and no one wanted to share.
And so, to learn, I had to go and do all the research myself.
As now the Global Operations Director with access to many, many trainers, I want my trainers to be educated.
I want them to continually grow and develop professionally, and so I created the Fast Five Series.
It’s five questions to ideally be answered in five minutes.
However, as you can see, as a trainer we like to talk and therefore the five minutes may get extended. But it’s the same five questions to every trainer.
Some of them are PD Training trainers and some of them aren’t.
The five questions are based around a particular topic that they like to deliver, so it could be communication skills.
The five questions are:
Why do people come on this (your) course?
Which ice breaker do you use?
Which module do you like?
Which activity do you like most
And is there anything else that you find that you deliver that makes your training a success?
So, the idea is that trainers are sharing their knowledge to help other trainers, knowing that you can also go and watch these fast five videos and you can learn from other trainers across the globe
That’s brilliant. I love that.
I’m quite excited. I’ve done over 30 now and I’ll get to probably 50 or 100 by the end of the year. I’ll continue videoing them.
At first some trainers can be reluctant, going “Why would I want to share my knowledge with someone else?”
I go, “Funnily enough, I used to be the same, but no one has the same knowledge as you and doesn’t matter how much you share, they still can’t deliver it the same way as you. They don’t have the same magnet.”
In some of the ones that I’ve done, there’s a particular activity that I found very interesting and I didn’t know it.
Three of the fast five trainers have shared the exact same activity, but they all did it totally different. I just find that fascinating that as a trainer, my understanding now is the more I share, the more I learn.
And so, the more I can encourage my trainers to share and be open about it, they’ll find that they’ll have other trainers being willing to share back.
Yeah, absolutely, and that’s one of the sentiments I had behind starting this podcast.
As a trainer, close on nearly 18 years now, I thought, “There must be things which I can learn from other people.”
So, one of the motivations I had for starting this podcast was to literally do that – democratize trainer knowledge, to get other trainers on the show, to get learning and development experts like yourself on the show and say, “What is it that’s out there? What is working for people? What are they doing differently?”
I find even just sitting in someone else’s class for a day, I come away with copious notes. I’m really struck by the number of things I don’t know or the things I thought that was the way to do that but someone else has a completely different angle on that particular thing.
Yeah, totally agree.
Your website states that you’re also always looking for the very best specialist trainers and we mentioned this early on in the conversation.
What kind of specialists are you looking for precisely?
The easiest way to identify what specialists we’re looking for would be starting with our top 30 courses because they’re the ones in the most need.
To identify the top-30 we have what we call our Signature Series and they’re a new range. They’re not a new range of course topics. There’ll still be your time management, communication skills, but it’s new course material that’s been written and it’s built around a reflective practice.
They’re the top-30 skills I’d be looking from a trainer.
Then when I go out to the market, it’s usually because a need has arisen. If I was going out to market looking for a blanket set of trainers, the key thing is their background, where they have worked.
So, if they’re a leadership trainer, where have they been a leader and what experience they’ve had there, because the best trainers are the ones that can share experiences.
We can all be a text book deliverer, but we need the experience to support it. We need the real-world starter to get the information to come across.
So that’s the background information I look for.
When I do my interviewing process, we’ve got a ten-step process and you can find that on our website.
The majority of my investigation work is done before I get the opportunity to interview them.
I don’t want to waste my time spending an hour interviewing them when I could have spent 30 minutes looking on the Internet and finding out so much information about individuals, which is quite scary but it’s also quite effective from my perspective.
When you can find out that already before having that face to face conversation, by the time I get to interview them I’m 95 per cent sure they’re already a calibre of a PD Training trainer.
The final touch is just getting that warmth of having that connectivity when I do that face-to-face interview.
We discuss their work experience as well as the experience which they have accrued as a trainer.
Then sometimes it comes down to why do they want to partner with PD?
How much work do they want with us?
Have they been successful as their own contractor or are they coming to us because they’re not successful, and that can play a part as to whether they’re going to be a success for us as well?
Okay, let’s flip that around for a moment.
From a trainer’s perspective, why would a trainer want to work with you, with PD Training?
What’s your sales pitch?
I haven’t asked any trainers that recently.
If I speak from Australia, we’ve got quite a good brand name so our trainers bring their fellow colleagues to come to us and the reason being that I find out is because we’re very smooth system-wise, we’re very technology based, and therefore the communication to our trainers is always up to date. They have all the information.
As a contract trainer you can be the third wheel and be missed out and just be told to go and sit and do the training.
We don’t treat our trainers like that. They’re a part of our network.
Therefore, they have all the notes that we’ve spoken with the client. They have just as good a relationship with the clients as we do.
They’re not involved in the sales process, but they do speak with the client prior to doing their delivery so we incorporate them as much as possible.
So, I think the trainers like that, feeling a part of a team, the technology that we use and that we pay very quickly.
Once you’ve done your job, you get paid. We’re not going to wait 30 days, 60 days to pay someone.
When I was a contract trainer I knew that I was good at training. I didn’t want to send my time doing debt collection or all this other paperwork.
I just want to have all the materials at hand and I wanted to go on and train, so we’re setting up to be the good trainer that they are.
And is there any kind of instructional design work involved in that as well or is just purely delivery?
It can be, and that’s on a client by client basis.
I would say 80 per cent of our work is tailoring of our standard materials and then the other 20 per cent is customizing for the client, but we also have our own internal designer here that will do the instructional design.
So let’s imagine that someone is quite keen on the idea of getting in touch with PD Training to start the application process.
Let’s just simplify this.
Do they go to your URL?
Do they contact you on LinkedIn?
What is the process that you would like them to go through to start the ball rolling?
They can come to me at any angle because I love hearing from them.
The best way though is to go to our website and there’s quite a few websites, so if you’re looking at the UK it’s pdtraining.co.uk.
Go to the ‘Work for Us’ page and down the very bottom there is a link which will indicate to become a contract trainer for PD, and the idea I like you to go there is because it’s quite a detailed form to complete, but that provides me with a lot of depth of knowledge of you.
So, it will indicate what your skill set is and what your industry knowledge is, what background you have and so I get a full feel from you before I start my investigation work.
And then having passed that hurdle, what’s the next step in the process?
Once that’s up in our system, it gets highlighted to me and my team.
If it’s a skill set that we’re needing immediately, you’re lucky enough that we’ll reach out to you on the spot.
If it’s not, then it’s a come as come needs type of purpose. It depends on per country.
However, at the moment what I’m aiming to do is a doing four-times-a-year induction or four-times-a-year-interview and then on-boarding process.
Therefore, it’s one each quarter and we’re into the third quarter now, so I’ll be looking through every country and seeing if there are any new trainers who have completed that online form that would be fitting what we’re looking for and then I’d reach out to them and start the interview process.
Is there any part of the application process which involves video face-to-face with you or even meeting if they’re locally in the area?
Yes. There are two parts to that.
There is a ten-minute video which must be provided, which gives us a lot of that information, names, country that you’re in, what your background is, what your expertise is, what industry knowledge you have.
The purpose for that is not only for whoever’s going to do the interview, but let’s say you do get through to be a PD Training trainer, that video is used internally.
Therefore, the PD sales person who works in your country and your operations person that works in your country both get to review your video.
The video effectively helps us to know which work to assign to the trainer.
So that’s one video that we do.
And there is always a face-to-face whether it is face-to-face in my office, face-to-face by Skype, but there must be a face-to-face before you are approved as a PD trainer.
Final question, Karen. I’m just conscious of your time.
What is the next couple of years going to bring then for you and for PD Training, looking into the future?
The LDP psychometric tool is very exciting for us and we went into partnership with them at the beginning of this year. So, we’re really looking at taking that globally.
On the back of that we have created an institute called The orgdevinstitute.co which you can have a look at, which is a membership based product which gives you access to industry knowledge around the HR space.
It gives you access to the profiling tool. It gives you access to some free training, but it’s not just a membership where you find out information and what’s happening in the HR world.
We’re building a more robust product for the HR people which I recommend anyone to go and have a look.
That’s orgdevinstitute.co and so we’re looking at promoting that and PD Training as a by-product of the OrgDev Institute.
Well, I’m going to put all those links to the sites we’ve mentioned and the resources we’ve mentioned in the show-notes for today’s episode.
Any final thoughts for anyone out there who perhaps is not yet a trainer but is thinking, “You know what? I fancy the idea of coming out of industry and becoming a trainer.”
Perhaps they’re not yet ready for something like PD Training, but they’re none the less intrigued about the idea of taking their expertise, their work experience over the years and jumping into the training industry.
What would you say to them?
If they’re not a massive risk taker, I would say “Dip your toe in the water and put yourself out there and go and do a delivery.”
I remember when I dipped my toe in the water and became a full-time trainer as such. I had to do a lot of preparation, a lot of hard work, but I loved it.
You really need to love it because you’re on show. Every time you stand up in front of a group you’re either going to get booed or clapped. It’s up to you.
And so, you’re only ever as good as your last show, so you’ve got to have a lot of energy and you’ve got to be prepared to do more than that which is stipulated in the training manual.
The manual is never going to bring the training to life. You and your personality and your experience alone can achieve this.
Other than that, I am always willing to interact with someone to give them my background and share some experiences if that’s of interest and to connect them with people in my network.
Another one I’ll give you as my last closing part, Mark, is that PD Training is hosting a conference in November.
You need to come to Australia for it, at the Gold Coast – the 9th and 10th of November.
There’s a lot of tools based in there to help trainers and also HR managers and it’s showcasing the LDP profiling tool and where we’re taking.
Everyone used to talk solely about the concept of IQ, which is intelligence-quotient and then everyone talked about EQ which is the concept of emotional intelligence.
Now we’re talking about your RQ, which is your reach-quotient.
This measures to the extent to which one can inspire and motivate others to follow and work with you? So, it’s not a question solely of intelligence or emotional intelligence now. It’s also a question of one’s ability to reach others.
And to influence them.
Karen, it’s been wonderful talking to you this morning.
Many thanks for coming on the show.
Thank you, Mark.