Keep Calm and Keep Learning

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

I have worked within the Higher Education sector for over 35 years. From the outset of my career, I have always been keen to learn new skills however this has not always been an easy journey.

For the first 10 years I was employed within the Computer Services Department at Liverpool Polytechnic and my claim to fame is being the first person to use a Word Processor! From starting off as a Punch Card Operator, Information Co-ordinator and then Departmental Secretary, I found training other university secretaries upon delivery of their word processor a very rewarding experience.

Looking for a new challenge and a change in direction, I had a 5-year period of self-employment within the Bridal industry. During this time I learnt that self-motivation was a necessity as it was only down to myself and my business partner to make it a success. I developed my customer service and organisational skills having to deal with customer sales, suppliers and organising and attending bridal exhibitions. I learnt how to budget and keep business accounts. The hardest thing I had to learn was that no matter how hard you try things don't always work out. In order to learn we have to learn from our experiences and move on. Having to close the business was a difficult but sensible decision to make.

In 2004 I returned to Liverpool John Moores University (formerly Liverpool Polytechnic) to work within the newly formed Occupational Health Unit. Initially I found the transition from self-employment quite challenging having to embrace new technologies and accept that change is an integral part of life. From being an expert user of a word processor, I was now required to draw on others knowledge, skills and experience and learn how to use Windows and a mouse!

Over the last 35 years the biggest way I have had to embrace change is with technology as this is constantly changing. What knowledge we have now isn't as relevant but more about what we can learn to have the right skills for the future.

Setting aside time for learning can be difficult as we are all focused on delivering excellent service and completing tasks in order to meet deadlines. Having a proactive approach to learning is therefore important. Only we can take responsibility for our learning and it is up to us to find the time to learn.

Having completed an MA in Personnel and Development in 2008, I have found it frustrating trying to gain employment within this field as other candidates had the work experience advantage that I have been unable to obtain. I have often questioned why I chose to follow this learning path.

However working for an institution that encourages learning has played a critical role in helping me to develop new knowledge. Since joining the Leadership and Development Foundation (LDF) in 2017, I have learnt that the more you know, there's even more that you don't know. I have developed my IT digital marketing skills, creating flyers and advertisements for the LDF development opportunities. Created electronic user guides to assist users and set up an event booking system for the team.

I have completed an AUA CPD programme at LJMU and recently gained accredited membership of the AUA. I became an AUA Advocate in 2018 and have attended network forums, delivered my own and taken part in some of the North West and North Wales Cross Institutional Virtual Interactive Collaboration's (CIVIC'S). During this time I have discovered that learning from others and asking for their help is not a sign of weakness.

Due to COVID-19, like many others I am now faced with the challenges that comes with working from home. Having to work away from my work colleagues, around family and sometimes in total isolation is something that I can add to my learning experiences. Who would have thought that I would be communicating with work colleagues virtually via Zoom!

As Higher Education moves forward we need to keep abreast of the changes. No matter what challenges we are faced with it is important to 'Keep Calm and Keep Learning', as learning never ends. This will ensure that as professionals we remain relevant and in demand.

So what are you going to learn today?

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