In September 2020, Gemma Glover was about to begin her seventh year in an operations role at a company with an increasingly toxic culture. She knew she needed to make a change. Unsure what that change should be, Gemma began Googling things that fascinated her at work, specifically retention and engagement. That’s how she found learning and development (L&D).
The start of Gemma’s L&D journey
With her discovery of L&D, Gemma knew she needed to make a change, but she also knew her current employer wouldn’t be willing to invest in her. So, when she found Avado’s CIPD courses, she decide to self-fund her learning. Choosing the Level 5 Diploma in Organisational L&D, she was drawn to the fact that she could complete the qualification remotely, with a mix of live classes and learning she could complete when it suited her schedule.
After being made redundant at the beginning of 2021, Gemma decided to start applying for L&D jobs. “I was thinking I would get a very junior L&D role,” she said of her search. “I appreciated I was going to have to work my way up because I was only three months into the course at that point, with no direct experience.” She applied for about 15 different roles, and wasn’t finding success, and decided to pivot back to roles in operations.
Finding the right role
Gemma sent her first ever speculative email to a local learning technologies company she knew was expanding, enquiring about a role similar to her previous one. A day later, the Chief Operating Officer at that company reached out to her on LinkedIn with one piece of bad news, and one piece of good: they weren’t hiring for any compliance roles, but would she be interested in an L&D manager role instead? They’d been interviewing for the L&D role for a while, and he’d noticed her partial completion of the CIPD course.
As part of the application process for the role, Gemma had to give a presentation, outlining what she would want to achieve in her first 30 days as the L&D manager.
“What we’d done in the first few modules, it just helped me do it. All those considerations about managing stakeholders and taking the time to understand the environment and the culture,” she said. “Initially, I was terrified of putting it together, but I knew it all. It was what we’d been studying, and it helped me put together every aspect of that presentation.”
Gemma received a job offer from that company, over other candidates with more L&D experience. As luck would have it, she was offered another role that day, back in operations, for substantially more money. But, Gemma couldn’t leave her new love for L&D behind. She picked L&D and began working at iAM Learning (part of the iAM Compliant Group) in April.
On settling in to her new job in L&D
“On my very first day, I had a strategy meeting. The conversations that were happening in that meeting, it was like it was the course brought to life,” Gemma said. Her L&D learning has been instrumental to her success at her job so far, and part of that job is helping their sales team understand what matters to L&D professionals. In that task, as well, she’s called gaining her L&D qualification an absolute lifeline.
After just a few months in her new role, Gemma reflected on her time learning, a time when her only job was the L&D course. It gave her days structure, and even on the harder days, she said it made her feel like she was still moving forward. It kept her engaged in learning and discussing ideas, and it ultimately helped her realise what she really wanted to be doing.
“It’s amazing how you can go from such a low point and then come out the other side of it being in the best job situation, connecting to how much I enjoy what I’m doing,” she said.
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