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

Today we hear from Emma Sephton shortlisted in the Rising Star of The Year category.

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

It feels like the biggest anxiety at the moment in the world of L&D is around keeping up with change. Change management is always a part of L&D as you’re always implementing or working towards change.

However, with new technologies, “millennials” in the job market, digital disruption and a generally unstable atmosphere globally at the moment, I’d say change is a cause of anxiety, and as human beings, we don’t like change anyway!

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

I am loving what Julian Stodd is doing with regards to Social Leadership.

L&D is so integrated with strong leadership within institutions. If you don’t have supportive leadership that is fully behind intelligently thought through L&D implementations which affect impact in an organisation, the whole thing just falls flat.

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

Something that excites and concerns me in almost equal measure, is personalisation.

When we’re all tight for time, it’s great for platforms to be able to surface relevant content, so you don’t have to sift through irrelevance. There’s so much content available, it’s useful to have that filtered.

But I’m concerned that if not designed correctly, we could just end up with echo chambers; and I personally don’t like the idea of never seeing something that could spark my interest or develop me in other ways. If I just stick to my bubble of things I know and that the algorithm knows about me, will I ever truly grow and learn new things?

This something we’ve thought about in the new Personal Learning Hub (Red Panda) that I’ve been managing the development of at HT2 Labs. We’ll likely never go past ‘nudging’, so as to not hinder people’s learning, but focus on supporting their own paths of learning discovery, and engagement with content instead.

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

I think to see more game changers, we first have to have a safe environment to do that. L&D is often restricted, by budget or time etc, and so are not able (or perhaps that should be willing), to take risks.

Instead, we have to start being able to implement different things or take new approaches, to see real progression and improved results. At HT2 Labs we pride ourselves on being a ‘place of firsts’, and helping organisations achieve things they’ve never been able to before. With our #LearningFirsts campaign, we’re hoping to encourage organisations to share the stories of what happened when they took the decision to do something new for the first time in order to inspire others to do the same;  ultimately creating a supportive, engaging space where others can also gather evidence to allow them to implement game changing initiatives that see real impact.

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

Well assuming the world is still here… I would hope that we will see L&D becoming more part of our day to day, more relevant as individuals and less siloed. I recently heard about some work about strengths-based development Deloitte have been doing and it would be great to see some more innovative approaches being supported and embedded within organisations.

What advice would you give your 21 year old self?

I think I would just say to follow my gut – as I have done – as it has lead me to some interesting experiences like supporting teacher training in Ghana, South Africa and Tanzania; implementing a foundation programme in Kazakhstan; and developing a brand new learning platform.

None of this is something  I could have prepared myself for; it’s my unique learning journey that’s made it what it’s been – with past experiences opening up avenues that I may not have thought possible previously.

Connect with Emma on LinkedIn