Chloe Tingle, learning manager at SSE Dartington, shares her perspective on start-up and development courses.
Start-Up Intensive. A learning manager’s perspective
Our three day courses aimed at start-up social entrepreneurs are exactly what they say on the tin – intense (but in a good way)! Two action packed days back-to-back then a follow up final day one month later. That said, we do manage to squeeze in a fair bit of fun along the way. Why is the final day a month later? Well we are all about ‘learning by doing’ and taking some action, so we want to give you a bit of time to go away and actually put some of your learning into practice before coming back to learn some more and reflect on your progress.
As a learning manager one of my favourite parts of the course is right at the start when everyone arrives and doesn’t really know what to expect. My role is to put everyone at ease and make sure they know they will get a lot out of the course, plus reassure them it’s not all head down and studying at your desk. I love finding out about everyone’s ideas, what stage they are at in developing them and what sort of entrepreneur they might turn out to be (whether they know it yet or not!). Alongside that we make sure there is plenty of time for networking – having been a participant myself on three SSE courses I know just how vital this time is.
As many of the entrepreneurs are just starting out on their journey and many are still working full time with this as their side hustle or passion project, I like to give them a helping hand with where to go next. We help them create, over the course of the three days, an action plan of next steps to help them become fully fledged organisations.
This course is exciting, varied and full of questions and surprises – which always keeps me on my toes.
Development courses. A learning manager’s perspective
As the learning manager for our Devon and Somerset development course I can actually talk about it from two perspectives, as I was also a student on the course in 2016. As a student the biggest benefit for me was the networking opportunity. Having just moved to Devon it was super inspiring meeting some big charity CEOs and people with years of experience working in the third sector. I learnt so much from my cohort and what I found really interesting was how much they learnt from me a relative newbee to the sector (just two years into my first enterprise with only a £20k turnover), but I had experience of doing things many of them had never even heard of like crowdfunding. Sharing and learning from our different backgrounds and experiences was so important.
As a learning manager I think the biggest challenge for this course is pitching it to suit the different levels of individual experience of the students attending the course and the different stages of development of their organisations. However, the thing that all attendees have in common is that they want to start becoming more entrepreneurial and less dependent on grants or local authority funding.
A very different facilitation style is needed on this course compared to some of the start-up courses I facilitate, as its about trying to use the knowledge and expertise already in the room from the cohort, fostering and encouraging students to support and skill share with one another. At SSE we often talk about being pushed to your ‘learning edge’- stretching yourself and that is the best thing about running this course for me! I am constantly learning so much just from being in the room with a broad mix of experiences and backgrounds and that is really exciting.
Each year, the highlight for me on the development courses is the Business Review Panels. I gained so much from the hour of focused expert attention on my own business when I was a student so I know just how valuable they can be and enjoy seeing the students being pushed to their own ‘learning edge’.