With the recent announcement of the finalists of the 2018 Learning Awards, we continue the series of the L&D QuestionTime where we hear from this years finalists.

Today we hear from Jo Byrne shortlisted in the Learning Professional of The Year category.

In your opinion what is the biggest anxiety within the world of learning and development at the moment?

I think an ongoing challenge is the ability to demonstrate real impact. By this I don’t just mean to the organisation in terms of return on the investment made, but also the longevity of the learning for the learner – how they continue to apply it in the workplace and change their behaviour as a result. This is a challenge for learning professionals to provide quality learning over quantity, enabling learning for people who have lots of competing priorities – why should they invest time in learning? We also need to be able to prove that it’s making a difference. This is vital in being seen as a true business partner and as a function that adds true value. I think there’s a lot of things we could do – it’s just knowing why we do the things we do, and to inform that we need to know the learners.

Who or what is informing your thinking around L&D?

Wow – it’s hard to pick one! LinkedIn is key in knowing what other organisations and professionals are doing and to learn from their experiences. The more I use it the more inspired and informed I become. I continue to value the LPI as a professional network and guide. Actually, in my organisation my team and the people that we are there to support continually challenge my thinking and provide feedback to inform what we prioritise in terms of learning offerings.

What is the most exciting innovation on the horizon for learning?

I think utilising technology in a different way, whether it’s to make learning more accessible or enabling ‘just in time’ learning – what they need, when they need it, in a method that suits them. Virtual Reality and gamification are something that people are engaging with in their personal lives, and we need to be ready to match this in the world of learning in a way that enhances what we do.

What “game changers” would you like to see and why?

I would like to see learning as a first thought in organisational activities and for learning professionals to be seen as vital in advising the business – having a seat at the table. We need to be able to drive strategy, not just deliver when a strategy is set. Truly partnering with the business requires a more enhanced skill-set of being strategic, commercially minded, aware of business priorities and models to be seen as credible, value adding professionals.

What do you think the world of L&D will look like by 2030?

I hope that the world of L&D will still be full of passionate professionals, and that our role will be one of enabling self-directed and peer learning. The focus will be much more on pulling learning. Technology will play a key part in how learners work and L&D professionals will need to adapt and upskill to make the best use of this. I think the world of L&D changes gradually and we need to be responsive to what the learners want now and in the future and to partner with learners to really deliver.

What advice would you give your 21 year old self?

To believe that you can do all the things that other people already believe you can. To do that focus continually on your own learning, and be future focused as well. Experience is key – see the world, learn from the people around you and invest in people who invest in you. They are the ones that will stick around.

Connect with Jo on LinkedIn