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18


Lead Interview


IT Man W


hat was the


situation when you joined FirstGroup? At first I had no team, budget or resources for


training, so I gradually built up a small team to support the company’s IT strategy. We then got more involved in learning technology and we were then headhunted into HR. That changed my focus while still maintaining my IT portfolio.


Why are you committed to learning technology in particular? Our IT training didn’t slot into general L&D, so part of my job was to remove these distinctions. Learning technology was the bridge. L&D had already implemented some eLearning and that’s gradually been developed over time into the


learningmagazine.co.uk


FirstGroupAcademy. We have approximately 120,000 employees spread across the UK and North America, so time and travel expenses are big issues for both staff and trainers. You’ll never replace face-to-face training because it’s the best social learning, but it comes with costs. So we facilitate shorter courses using learning technology. This way we can offer the same content in a variety of different formats that suits the organisation and employees. We’re changing the company’s perception of what training can be.


How do you maximise eLearning within the company? There’s a tendency with eLearning to just point people at it and tick a box without actually following it through as performance development. You have to make sure that the learning is relevant


Niall Gavin tried various roles from actor through deliveryman to training consultant before finding his niche as IT training manager at transport giant FirstGroup. In 2010 he crossed over into HR, analysing the way the company handled training, and promoting the use of learning technologies. He’s a fellow of the Learning & Performance Institute and a three-times winner of IITT National Training Awards.


and contextualised. Until fairly recently a lot of our staff could only access eLearning at work and even then not everyone had a device to log in. So we’re gradually working with our colleagues in IT to develop a 21st century infrastructure for a more social, collaborative type of learning. We also need to leverage our scale and integrate the big North American side of the operation. We need to know how we can learn from best practice across the company and turn that into a global advantage, whether that’s in engineering, procurement or governance. That’s why we’re about to go live with our new global Employee Portal.


How will the FirstGroup Employee Portal work? What will it do?


The new Employee Portal will take tentative steps into collaborative technologies that create an arena where people can comment on things,


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