Update on me

So just a quick update on me for regular readers. Four years after co-founding Ascot Communications, I will be stepping down as director at the end of August. I am relocating thanks to my husband’s promotion in the RAF and feel that now is the right time to move onto the next challenge.

Myself and Martin Belton founded Ascot back in 2011 and it has grown from two individual consultants into a thriving agency with a great team and super clients. I have immensely enjoyed building the organisation but now Martin will take the business forwards.

I wanted to thank you so much to everyone who has supported me during the last four years. As an industry, we often reflect on the importance of a personal learning network (PLN) but I have truly felt the value of mine and know that Ascot would not be where it is today without the help of some incredible people and their ongoing support. It really is so much appreciated. I remain a shareholder of mylearningworx and am excited about the potential of the new opportunities that lie ahead.

In the short term, I will be tweeting and Periscoping (is that a verb yet?) from Learning Live next month and am already looking ahead to HR Tech World Congress and Learning Technologies 2016. You can contact me via all the usual social channels or email kategraham23@hotmail.co.uk. My phone number remains the same for those that have it ;) And if you’d like to contact Martin, he can be found here on Twitter or via martin@ascotcommunications.com.

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Learning the rules #blimage

This post is inspired by the #blimage series. Read about the genesis of it here with Steve Wheeler. Thanks to Don Taylor for the challenge/invitation to contribute. Don posted a selection of images. Naturally I chose the cricket picture to write about.

2015-05-12-15-15-5610 years ago, England famously won The Ashes for the first time since 1987. I was working at QA at the time and vividly remember having a discussion with a colleague about the marketing campaigns that were running throughout that summer. He said we should have some kind of Ashes references linked to our training courses at the time – one dayers, five day tests, that kind of thing. To which I scoffed and said ‘nobody really cares about cricket’. Because at that time I didn’t care about cricket. And by the way how wrong was I given how much coverage that particular series gained at the time and ever after!

I grew up as a lover of sport. As a tomboy who wished to be like my hero George from the Famous Five, I played football with the boys, collected Panini sticker albums and, being Welsh, fully embraced rugby madness from a young age. But cricket? No thanks. How could a game where nothing happens possibly be of any interest?

But then during the 2005 Ashes series, the Edgbaston test happened. Mr G is a big cricket fan and previously I had always left him to it. But for some reason – probably as the match started getting tighter and tighter – I got drawn in. As he started to explain the rules I found myself barely able to peek out from behind the sofa as England beat Australia by two measly runs. It had been so tense, so thrilling that I found myself hooked.

Cape Town test 2010Now, as England are on the verge of winning this current Ashes series and having even travelled to South Africa on my honeymoon to watch England play, I am indeed a bit of a cricket tragic. But why this change of heart? Without wishing to sound like a headmistress, I believe it has to do with learning the rules.

When I had previously looked at cricket on the TV, it didn’t interest me because I had no idea what was going on beyond the fact that the bloke in the middle is meant to hit the ball that the other guy is throwing in his general direction. So far, so dull. But once Mr G had drawn me a map of the field placings (I still have it), started to explain the different types of bowling and shots that can be played, it became more interesting. Also the fact that the match at Edgbaston was such a tightly fought contest engaged me with its drama, so I had more of an interest in gaining a deeper understanding of what was going on. And I have been on a journey with this beautiful game ever since. It isn’t like football or rugby where I grew up just inherently knowing the rules and understanding the subtleties of the game. I am constantly learning more about the intricacies of reverse swing or the impact of a turning pitch, and I love it.

Because you see, without the rules and the complexities of the game, all the hitting of balls in the world wouldn’t mean very much. It is the rules that make it interesting. And how the players work within those rules. Muralitharan has a crazy bowling action that many felt broke the rules of cricket. Kevin Pieterson’s switch hits provoked controversy, with many feeling the shot should be outlawed.

So what’s the learning message in this? Well, from my own perspective, I knew as soon as I saw the cricket picture that I would pen something about the journey I have been on with this beautiful game. It is a journey because I am still learning about it. But as someone who hates instruction manuals and never reads the rules of board games properly before starting to play, it’s a funny realisation that rules can work in our – my – favour.

picassoHowever, the best thing about rules is that they’re made to be broken right? Here’s a quote from Picasso which is something of a perfect philosophy for me. I think I will have to actually read some of those instruction manuals from now on…

Beadnell BayAnd to pass on the #blimage challenge, here’s a pic from my personal collection. If you’re game, I look forward to seeing your post on it!

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To follow or not to follow, that is the question

Earlier this week, I checked Twitter in the evening and saw I had a few new followers. One was a marketing agency who mentioned cake in their bio. Right up my street. So I dropped them a tweet to say thanks for the follow and then followed them back. I get a fair few of these agency type accounts following me, so I paused to consider what made me follow them back. I liked the use of humour in their bio and they are also relevant in that they are not just a marketing agency, they also have a focus on technology, so their tweets should be of interest to me.

I ‘manage’ my personal account quite differently to the brands that I work with, in that I don’t really manage it. I just organically let it go where it wants. There are so many insight tools out there now which can be helpful, but I was intrigued to see what prompts other people’s Twitter follows. So I threw out a tweet asking:

Follow Tweet

I didn’t expect so much response on a quiet week night but it provoked a lot of discussion and over 70 tweets from various members of my PLN in the space of an hour. It obviously isn’t a huge sample or a terribly scientific experiment, but I thought it was interesting enough to share some of the replies.

Recent tweets: The key factor in deciding whether to follow someone or not seems to be based on their recent tweets. Browsing back through people’s timelines seems to provide enough of a flavour of their Twitter behaviour for someone to decide if they’re worthy of being followed. For me, that’s fascinating because when I follow accounts (via my personal Twitter) I don’t tend to even look back at people’s timelines! Two respondents took it one step further and would have a quick stalk of people’s recently posted pictures. Images that reflect a mix of professional and personal interests were preferred, but too many pictures of someone’s lunch is deemed a boring no-no.

Connections: Who an account is connected to is also important. Do they have relationships with people already in your network? This adds to an account’s credibility, but there was also a general consensus that following accounts from outside one’s immediate circle of interest can be both challenging and useful. There was a comment that it is not a positive thing when Twitter becomes an ‘echo chamber’ and I couldn’t agree more. I like following accounts outside of L&D and marketing, and often have binges where I get stuck into a particular topic and follow new accounts based on that particular area of interest for a while. I also enjoy the random nature of Twitter and like it when someone follows me that I might never have found but adds depth and content to my timeline.

Other deciding factors in the to follow or not to follow debate included:

• Details of bio – my key deciding factor!
• A mix of personal and professional pursuits – hobbies and interest show a human side
• Real profile pictures – logos and avatars a turn off for many, an interesting conundrum for brands as people will always connect more with people
• Propensity to RT – generally perceived to be a positive behaviour
• Location – only one person mentioned this and he is based in Australia, no idea if that has any bearing on his interest in location as a deciding factor. I must confess it isn’t something I look at very much at all

Keep it real: Whether or not someone has loads of followers wasn’t a deciding factor at all. It is much more about the authenticity of what they do on Twitter and the potential value they can bring to someone’s timeline, which could be in the form of content sharing or just good conversation.

Turn offs: There are a few Twitter crimes to avoid though it seems. Social media etiquette is an oft discussed topic and it can be very subjective (let’s face it, some parts of Twitter can be pretty dark and disturbing). But in the nice civilised part of Twitter that I live in, general no-nos include:

• No picture – nobody wants to talk to an egg
• Not enough information in bio – a personal bug bear
• #A #bio #stuffed #with #too #many #hashtags
• Tweeting too many motivational quotes – stop it *now*
• Too much self-promotion
• Too much automation
• God complex – don’t style yourself as a guru, let your tweets do the talking
• Auto direct message upon following – nobody does this any more, and it wasn’t even cool four years ago when lots of people did it

Device dependent behaviour: For someone who spends a lot of their working day in Twitter, one respondent brought up an interesting point. And that is that he uses a different device for Twitter when he is not working. This is one of the people that likes to view people’s pictures when evaluating whether or not to follow and account. I asked him if he tends to use an iPad for tweeting because the photos are so readily viewable in the iPad app (the answer was ye). Whereas I use TweetDeck a lot and you have to go digging for photos in there, so it isn’t something I do very often.

This lead me to consider the influence of the device and its functionality on my Twitter behaviour. And it is significant. My Android phone app doesn’t give me general notifications – I get @ replies of course but it doesn’t have a stream to show me when people have favourited or followed for example. TweetDeck gives me all of that information in one column. Therefore I am much more likely to follow accounts when I am within TweetDeck. Again, this isn’t very scientific but shows that what we engage with on Twitter isn’t just about useful content or well positioned accounts.

The punchline to all of this for me, is partly that following an account on Twitter is not a big commitment. I don’t tend to check people out in too much detail, but if a stream of ‘inspiring’ motivational quotes start appearing in my stream, I can (and do) quickly unfollow. The other takeaway is that whilst there is some science that can be applied to growing your presence and being ‘successful’ on Twitter, I believe the most important thing is to be authentic. Whether you’re a person or tweeting on behalf of an organisation or a brand, you need to behave like in a ‘real’ way, with real interests and a real point of view.

Would love to hear your thoughts on what prompts you to follow Twitter accounts (or not as the case may be).

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Looking beyond learning #LTSF15

This week saw the fourth annual Learning Technologies Summer Forum take place at Olympia in London. And although the format itself remained largely unchanged, there was a definite shift in the content and the mood around W14.

IMG_20150616_095159407This began in style thanks to a keynote session with a difference. Deborah Frances-White is an author, screen writer and comedian whose work I was aware of but not seen. She delivered a track session on storytelling at a previous Learning Technologies which went down a storm so I had high expectations. And boy did she deliver! Deborah explored the ‘power of play’ and its relevance to learning. The subject matter was engaging in and of itself, but it was her presence and facilitation that really set the auditorium alight. When she asked her first question of the audience, nobody answered or put their hand up…but by the end of the hour, the entire audience was on their feet cheering on a fiercely contested paper/scissors/stone tournament. I kid you not. She eloquently demonstrated and described how we lose the ‘gossamer threads of play’ as we grow up and become serious adults that are all about work. As the mother of a 20 month old who is learning every day just by playing, this really resonated with me.

Play tweet

Play tweet 2

She acknowledges the need for work and that not everything is suitable to play or being gamified. Work and play are both processes and both can deliver results. But I loved the message of making things more lighthearted and embracing a less serious side to learning.

As if to prove a point, once we were out of the keynote and into the exhibition, one of the first things visitors came to was a company giving people a ‘go’ in Deborah’s speak, on a set of Occulus Rift goggles. There is such a sense of fun here – imagine if we could transfer even an ounce of that into some corporate learning.

Kim George on Occulus Rift Martyn Steveson-Read on Occulus Rift

Reproduced with permission from Kim George and Martyn Stevenson-Read.

Breaking out of the L&D bubble

It wasn’t until I got home and was reflecting on the day’s events that I realised there had been a number of influences outside L&D on my takeaways. Lisa Johnson of Barnardo’s is a Learning Technologies regular but was unable to attend because of an internal Senior Leadership event. When she came to look at the back channel tweets via #LTSF15, she found that many of the key themes mirrored content from the event she had attended that day.

We heard from the world of comedy thanks to Deborah. Plus speakers with backgrounds in marketing, video production, personal development and psychology. These people don’t necessarily bill themselves as learning experts. But they all had so much value to give. And this is particularly rewarding for me as someone who is not strictly speaking, an L&D professional.

Mark Davies on video production revealed top tips on which equipment to buy, how to shoot different camera angles, how to edit video and capture interesting and engaging footage – all incredibly useful and practical. My key takeaway from Mark is such a simple but important one:

Video tweet

In the same track, Gemma Critchley from BP revealed the story behind its online video ‘Hub’ – an internal sharing platform that provides both professionally produced content from the learning team, but also user generated content created by BP staff. They work on a theory of providing their learners with ‘effective context’. That is, if the learner appends an emotion to what they are seeing then they are much more likely to remember it, therefore making the learning more likely to ‘stick’. For example:

Video tweet 2

The punchline to this is that Gemma actually has a marketing background. So when asked how BP measures the success of the Hub, she referenced metrics more typically associated with marketing like Net Promoter Score and using Google Analytics to understand hit rates and key search terms. They are treating their learners more like consumers – and guess what, it’s working. The engagement stats for the Hub are great.

Video tweet 3

Sheena Wyatt’s session after lunch was a workshop focusing on maximising personal impact. Again, as a marketing professional this resonated with me, but her insights on personal branding are important in any profession. And I do think that L&D as a function needs to consider its ‘personal brand’ within an organisation. Is it a department that takes orders for training courses? Or is it a proactive business partner that helps solve problems by developing the performance of its staff? One to seriously think about – and again, not learning specific.

Familiar territory

There were still lots of sessions with insights from L&D experts. I was delighted to see Gill Chester presenting on ’10 design ideas for your next elearning project’. I am a huge fan of Gill’s practical, hands-on approach and her lively session left people buzzing with ideas. I heard similar things about the likes of Binnaz Cubukcu and Julian Stodd too. Chairman Don Taylor has skilfully moved the agenda on from some of the theory and abstract ideas on taking learning technologies forward, to the context and realisation of how we can actually do it. Asi De Gani for example had a long line of people wanting to talk to him about how he’s successfully implementing mobile learning at Telefonica.

But there is no doubt in my mind that the external influences will also help move the L&D conversation forward. It is good to look outside our bubble and be challenged by other ideas and philosophies. I would love to hear your takeaways from the event and if anything popped up on the back channel that particularly struck you as useful – please do share!

And finally

I can’t finish this post without a massive thank you to Mark, Ian, Jonquil, Don, Annie and all the team at Closer Still for yet another fantastic event. But the last word is reserved for the brilliant social media team – Nic Laycock, Michelle Parry-Slater, Sam Burrough and Tanya Randall who all tweeted their fingers to the bone in order to share the highlights from the day’s proceedings. Plus a special mention for Con Sotidis who is such a great participant all the way from Australia. I love that the back channel opens the event up to the world and he has set up Eventifier to help dig further into the shared content. As always, if you have any feedback on the back channel, let me know. And there is a separate post in germination on our first Periscope experience too.

Roll on January…

Kate

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Learning Technologies Summer Forum 2015

It’s that time already folks! It is the eve of the Learning Technologies Summer Forum, even though it doesn’t feel like five minutes ago we were at Olympia in January. As usual we will be doing our best to bring you everything from the backchannel via a carefully selected team of crack tweeters who will be assembling Avengers-style on Tuesday morning.

Tune in…

Each session at the conference has an individual hashtag that will be used in addition to the main #LTSF15 hashtag. So if you’re following using TweetChat or a similar application, you can search on the specific sessions to keep your focus on a particular topic. Below is a list of these hashtags and which of our tweeters is covering those sessions. Hopefully you can use this to filter the stream of tweets and hone in on any areas of interest during the event. Note, the keynote won’t have an individual hashtag. For the full conference programme, click here.

This year’s backchannel will be brought to you by:

Kate Graham – @kategraham23
Michelle Parry-Slater – @MiPS1608
Nic Laycock – @alc47
Sam Burrough – @burrough
Tanya Randall – @TanyaR2020

Keynote: The power of play – transforming work, learning and creativity

Deborah Frances-White is an author, coach and screenwriter and will be exploring techniques for instigating effective play, and explores how games can help in learning. She is also a stand up comedian so it promises to be an entertaining session! There won’t be an individual hashtag for this session, just tune in via #LTSF15.

Session 1: 11.15 – 12.15

* #T1S1 – The social bridge: from formal learning to practical application, Julian Stodd (Covered by Nic Laycock and Sam Burrough)
* #T2S1 – Changing behaviour with high impact video, Gemma Critchley and Mark Davies (Covered by me)
* #T3S1 – React or Proact? That is the question for workplace L&D, Nigel Paine and Andrew Jacobs (Covered by Michelle Parry-Slater)
* #T4S1 – Making your LMS work hard for you, Andy Wooler (Covered by Tanya Randall)

Lunchtime session: 12.15 – 13.30

For the first time, Learning Technologies is hosting a panel session at lunchtime with a focus on women in learning and development. This is an exciting development that has proved popular during registration for the event. It will be chaired by Sharon Kaliouby and includes Barbara Thompson of BP, Binnaz Cubukcu from IKEA and Sarah Malone from the Post Office. Be sure to check it out via the special hashtag #WLD.

Session 2: 13.30 – 14.30

* #T1S2 – Emerging technologies, future learning, Donald Clark (Covered by Michelle Parry-Slater and Nic Laycock)
* #T2S2 – 10 design ideas for your next elearning project, Gill Chester (Covered by Tanya Randall)
* #T3S2 – Making the right start with mobile delivery, Asi de Gani and Sareena Randhawa (Covered by Sam Burrough)
* #T4S2 – Practical tips for maximising your impact and influence, Sheena Whyatt (Covered by yours truly)

Session 3: 15.00 – 16.00

* #T1S3 – Tackling performance issues with well-designed blended learning, Clive Shepherd (Covered by me)
* #T2S3 – More myths and facts about the brain and learning, Christian Jarrett (Covered by Tanya Randall)
* #T3S3 – Opening new conversations with business leaders – it’s time for action! Laura Overton (Covered by Nic Laycock and Sam Burrough)
* #T4S3 – Less is more: getting the business to stop adding more content to your courses, Binnaz Cubukcu (Covered by Michelle Parry-Slater)

Up Periscope

In an ongoing effort to innovate what we do with the backchannel, we are introducing Periscope this year. I will be interviewing speakers after their sessions and live streaming via Periscope in a scheduled sequence below.

• 9.20 – Pre-going on stage ‘behind the curtain’ with Don Taylor
• 11.00 – Deborah Frances-White
• 12.20 – Nigel Paine and Andrew Jacobs (Learning Strategy)
• 12.30 – View from the expo
• 13.40 – Women in L&D panel
• 14.40 – Asi De Gani and Sareena Randhawa (Mobile Learning)
• 16.10 – Clive Shepherd (Blended Learning)
• 16.20 – Don Taylor wraps things up

If you haven’t had a chance to play with Periscope yet, it is extremely easy to use. You can download the app for iOS and Android now, but the beauty is that to watch a live stream, you don’t have to have the app installed on your device. We will share the links via Twitter and you can simply click on the link to watch the stream.

However, if you do download the app, search for the Learning Technologies account (@LT15UK) and follow it. You will then get a notification on your device when live streams commence so you can tune straight in via the app.

Look forward to seeing you in the stream on Tuesday folks and as always, let me know if you have any suggestions or feedback on how we can bring the best in learning via the backchannel.

Kate

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#HRTechEurope: London 2015

HR Tech Europe logoI write this bleary eyed after a busy but brilliant couple of days at the HR Tech Europe event, London edition. Between the conference sessions, keynotes, exhibition and valuable conversations had, there is a lot to reflect on and my brain is still trying to process a lot of it. I am aiming to reflect on specific sessions here over the next few days.

HR Tech Europe in London

No mistaking HR Tech Europe was in London!

In terms of overall themes, it wasn’t as glaring as the October event in Amsterdam (moving to Paris this year). 6 months ago, the theme of employee engagement smacked every attendee in the face like a giant kipper. You literally couldn’t escape it in every single session. In London, there was less of an obvious stand out theme from my perspective and this isn’t a bad thing. I think it’s good when the conversation moves forward. One of the most interesting things for me was the fact that there wasn’t really any ‘new’ technology being discussed. None of the exhibitors were trying to dress up their wares as earth shatteringly new inventions (although there was some cool stuff to see). And in the opening keynote, Peter Hinssen talked about the fact that technology isn’t what’s new today, rather it is our behaviour and our usage of tech that is evolving. This resonates with me because most organisations aren’t in a position to adopt groundbreaking tech anyway (some exceptions like Zurich using Augmented Reality!) I had a number of conversations where people are still needing to work off seemingly ancient tech (IE6 anyone?) So what is useful is an exploration of how organisations can make use of what is already available rather than looking ahead to shiny new things they simply aren’t ready for. It’s not that I don’t believe in innovation, of course I do, but I am a bigger believer in being pragmatic.

Saba Software at HR Tech EuropeSo what was being shown at the exhibition you ask? Well there was loads to see! The swag was seriously impressive and is better covered by Andy Swann in his post. But as a marketing person I am never sucked in by just cool giveaways. I am always keen to have a chat with people and try to take a look at their tech where I can. From a learning perspective, the enthusiastic team at Pluralsight have got an exciting proposition around a huge library of IT and creative training online. Our CTO has used some of their courses already and was impressed (no mean feat) so it was good to see their offering in action.

Recruitment is not my area of expertise but there were some pretty funky jobs platforms on show with Indeed possibly being the glossiest. Workday is obviously a company you cannot miss and I heard it was standing room only at their breakout session. A lady I met on day one was at the beginning of a project to roll it out to 35,000 people worldwide. They are certainly a force to be reckoned with! Interestingly, because the platform doesn’t really have learning functionality, there is now a two way connector with Saba who were also in attendance. Their new Saba Cloud software is about much more than learning and includes talent management, performance and succession planning. But it is good to see a market leader like Workday recognising the importance of learning and partnering with another provider that has real expertise in L&D and is moving that agenda forward with functionality like machine learning.

Peter Hinssen at HR Tech Europe in LondonOn that note, I was reminded of how L&D is just one part of the puzzle during a panel session on day two. It was a sort of summary session from track chairs to reflect on the key themes and highlights from the content they had chaired during the conference. As the Future of Workforce Learning stream was summarised (track chair Fiona Leteney couldn’t be there unfortunately) both TinCan API and 70:20:10 were mentioned. And hardly anybody knew what they meant! It was left to analyst David Wilson to explain 70:20:10 which people seem to have at least heard of but TinCan appeared to be a brand new term! This demonstrates what we talk about a lot in L&D – and that is needing to speak in language the rest of the business understands without descending into jargon.

I also attended sessions on global learning, augmented reality, gamification, cloud technology, millennials (don’t get me started!) and a number of talks on the ‘future’ and ‘tomorrow’s world’ which had varying degrees of resonance for me. Collaboration and sharing as the future of work was another theme that emerged over the two days, culminating with Rachel Botsman’s closing keynote. This was a talk that threw up all sorts of reaction for me (good and bad) so I am going to try and dig into that in a separate post.

Panel discussion HR Tech Europe in LondonThe closing keynote on day one from Heidi Spirgi was a particular highlight for me. Spirgi has been in and around the world of HR technology for 18 years and by her own admission was jaded. But then she met Marcus Buckingham and what has emerged for her is a focus not on the technology (again, mirroring my earlier observations) and his view is that ‘There are no great organisations, only great teams. So goes the team, so goes the organisation’. And this set the tone for a session that explored the need to focus on team leaders (or line managers if you prefer) as a stakeholder group. They are often neglected but so important if organisations are to really engage their employees and harness their potential. I loved this because it was practical advice and we *all* know the difference a great manager can make to our performance (not to mention happiness) at work.

I am going to sift through all the great takeaways zinging around in my head over the next few days, but suffice to say HR Tech Europe has once again been thoroughly worthwhile. The calibre of attendees is at a really high level and I enjoyed the breadth of conversation from gamification to global payroll. It was great to meet so many new people and see some lovely old faces too. I even got to finally meet Euan Semple and be a geeky fangirl (which I suspect I probably enjoyed more than him). I hear Sir Richard Branson is the opening keynote at the next one in October which should be fascinating – so I will hopefully see you in Paris!

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Women at the table

On Monday I was lucky enough to join an amazing line-up of speakers (pictured below) at an event hosted by the University of East London aimed at inspiring students ‘in honour and celebration of women’. Alex Watson kindly invited me to share my story as a working mum running her own business(es). But there were ladies on the panel with far more inspirational stories than mine to tell. There were women who are campaigning for victims of domestic abuse, heading up charities, working for large corporates, coaching executives, working with young people, teaching…the list goes on and it was the sort of day that made me proud of my achievements and spurred on to pay it forward wherever I can.

Photo credit: Jenni Steele

Photo credit: Jenni Steele

A common theme throughout the day was the concept of ‘imposter syndrome‘ which is classified as ‘feelings, epitomised by profound self-doubt and a sense of being a fraud…common among women of every age and every level of success’. Now this is particularly interesting to me because very recently I attended a pretty fancy round-table event with a very select invitee list. It was a stimulating and engaging discussion that took place around said table, but aside from the lady hosting the event, I was the only girl in the room. One of the other male attendees and I remarked on this afterwards and pondered why more women don’t put themselves forward for things like speaking slots at events for example, as this would raise their profile and ultimately mean more women at the table for high level discussions such as this. Maybe imposter syndrome is to blame?

All this is happening whilst I prepare to attend the HR Tech Europe event next week. Now during my session on Monday I referenced the fact that my main areas of focus are marketing, L&D and HR; three areas of business that are well represented by women. This has meant that I have been fortunate enough to encounter very little sexism or anti-female feeling directly throughout my career. However, my recent round-table experience shows that whilst it might not be a case of sexism per se, women are still often under represented in the public facing aspects of these industries.

So I am pleased to see that there are some pretty kick-ass ladies on the bill for next week’s conference. Some of them I know well, some of them I know by reputation and others I don’t know at all. But that they are on the agenda is a good thing. I’m not someone who’s really in favour of quotas, and as someone who organises a lot of events, you have to put the content first. But clearly women like Rachel Botsman, Heidi Spirgi, Fiona Leteney, Jas Johal and Nicole Le Maire have stories to tell and inspiration to share.

I also happen to know that one of my fellow blog squad members at HR Tech Europe, Faye Holland, is doing some digging to find out how the sponsors and vendors are promoting the careers of women in technology. That will be a great post to read once she has compiled all the answers!

None of this post is designed to be anti-men and I know a lot of guys who don’t really agree with the concept of things like International Women’s Day. For me it isn’t about bashing the other sex, it’s about championing what women can bring to the table. However, if we’re going to hear what they’ve got to say then we’ve got to get them into the room first.

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