We talk with our colleagues about their background in learning and development, the Xprtise projects that make them proud, and the biggest challenges in learning & development in the coming years. This time it is Business Development Consultant Europe, Paul Stevens who operates from London. Paul has a background in Learning and Development for over 30 years. As a Business Development Consultant at Xprtise, he started and manages the UK office and leads the 5 Moments of Need® Academy UK together with Eleni Iatridis.
Who? Paul Stevens.
What? Business Development Consultant Europe at Xprtise since October 2020.
Where? Xprtise UK, London.
I live in North London with my wife, two teenage sons and my dog, in Muswell Hill, famous for being one of the highest points in the city. It’s the place where I grew up and lived most of my life. I started off my L&D adventure really by accident. When I left college, I traveled around the world for over a year and on my return I managed to find work in a bank. One of the things they were doing was launching a new service for their customers to enable them to buy and sell their own shares. The bank needed people to train customers on how to do it and work with the software and I became a trainer. From that I moved into an international training consultancy organization where I started out as a business trainer and worked my way up until I became the Managing Director of the UK branch of the company in the UK. So I’ve been working in the L&D sector for the last 30 years across a few different companies. One of the key things that changed over the years was the emergence of learning technologies and the companies I worked for were always very interested in learning technology and adopted this as part of their solution.
I came across Bob Mosher twelve years ago when I attended a learning conference in London where he was speaking about the 5 Moments of Need®. As I listened, I thought ‘this is so right – we’ve been doing it wrong for so long! We need to shift to getting people help at their moment of need’. It was a real lightbulb moment. His ideas solved the problems I had been facing for the previous 15 years. I went away realizing he was one of the best speakers I had heard for a long time. However, life was busy, and I went back to my day job and continued to what I had always done until I met Bob again at another conference together with Alfred Remmits. We chatted after Bob’s session and this time the 5 Moments of Need® ideas stuck. I decided to adopt the learning methodology in our company and a few years later I ended up working with Alfred at Xprtise.
What do you get most energy from? What is your passion?
On a personal level: my family is very important to me; I have a big family. I am very much into music; I have played bass guitar in a band, since I was at school. Just a fun thing to do for me! I also love sports and still play football and tennis every week. I like film and theater as well, which of course is great when you live in London. These days I am passionate about the climate change and supportive of the Diversity agenda and Black Lives Matter movement.
On a learning level: for me it’s always been about the human side of things. What motivates me is to help solve people’s work problems by giving them the support they need to do their jobs better. And, of course, getting that feedback from people saying: ‘that really made my life better, it helped me to do what I need to do better.’ Which ultimately means that organizations are more effective and efficient. Secondly, I just love working in teams. I’ve always been a real advocate for great teamwork, doing stuff together and making work life fun as well. The result of that is that I’m lucky to have built a huge number of friends through work over the years which I really enjoy. Thirdly, simplifying problems. In England we say: ‘cutting to the chase’. What is really critical and addressing that is going to make greatest impact in solving your challenge? That’s why I love the 5 Moments of Need®, because that’s exactly what it does. It really focuses in on what’s critical and enables me to work with people to address their core challenges and work as a team to address them.
“Hearing Bob Mosher speaking about the 5 Moments of Need® methodology was a real lightbulb moment. His ideas solved problems I had been facing for the previous fifteen years.”
What makes the field of Learning & Development so interesting for you?
I grew up with two teachers as parents. So basically, I’ve been in the learning business since I was born! I have always been interested in different approaches to learning and the impact excellent learning can have on people. That comes directly from my parents’ influence: I could see the impact they were having on helping people progress their lives. When I grew up, I was interested more in how we learn and challenging some of the traditional methods of learning. Using our understanding of science and psychology to understand better how we can more effectively support people when they need to learn. And, in particular, how technology can enable more efficient and effective learning. Besides that, L&D is a people business. Of course, there is lots of theory and technology involved. But at the end of the day, it’s about the person-to-person connection and about helping to support people’s lives going forward. That interests me!
You are Business Development Consultant Europe at Xprtise. Can you tell more about your role?
I look after business development, particularly in the UK. A lot of our focus has been on setting up a UK 5 Moments of Need® Academy. In order to raise the awareness of the methodology in the UK and enable companies to try out the methodology on a real-life project. Everybody you speak about it is interested; the methodology makes sense. By enabling them to actually apply to a real project you are changing their learning habits of a lifetime. Therefore, using the 5 Moments of Need® methodology can be a big step. People’s core approach to designing and develop a solution which supports people in their learning within businesses has not changed for 50+ years. This is what the Moments of Need® course does: It challenges those core assumptions, helps change peoples’ traditional mindset and gives them a different way to approach those business learning problems. We have people from all over the world joining the course.
So, my primary focus is raising awareness and helping organizations begin a process of adopting the 5 Moments of Need®. As well as running the UK Academy I am also working with clients on some early-stage projects in the UK.
What do you think makes Xprtise unique?
What makes Xprtise unique is the 5 Moments of Need® methodology. It’s the only European organization that’s truly using, implementing, and promoting the 5 Moments of Need®. I always liked the methodology and wanted to work with it, which I now have the opportunity within Xprtise. I like the fact that it is a learning organization that is based on a methodology, not based on a piece of technology. It’s all about the approach, supported by interesting technology of our partners; Drillster for example. Also, Xprtise is a welcoming company with a very flat structure - everybody is flexible and helpful which leads to great teamwork and a really nice working environment.
“I like the fact that Xprtise is a learning organization that is based on a methodology, not based on a piece of technology. It’s all about the approach, supported by interesting technology of our partners.”
What do you think are the biggest challenges in L&D in the coming years?
The biggest challenge for L&D, and indeed business in general, is change: The speed of change and the complexity of change. How do you support that change? How do you make sure that people keep up with it, adapt to it and embrace it? We often forget the people side which is required to embrace the change. One key form of change is the unexpected. We all now know, with COVID, what it is like to have huge change come unexpectedly and to have to adapt incredibly fast. We have to accept that we can expect more of these ‘shocks’ to our business environment in the years to come. I don’t just mean pandemics, also think about what is going on with climate change, for example. L&D will have to meet those challenges because the environment in which people live and work will change, which means they will need to change how they do what they do. It’s L&D’s job to support this.
Just generally… my parents’ generation; people were in jobs in which it took a long time to get up to speed, to learn how to do the work. They were expected to stay in that job for their whole lives, their whole career. That’s completely changed in the last ten to twenty years. People have to adapt and reskill on a regular basis now. Because our work environment is changing so fast, the way we do things is changing. The greatest challenge is to support people through those multiple changes and those multiple re-skillings they will need to undertake through their working lives. Whether that is people following their dreams and making a choice to completely change their work, which is possible now, or that is people forced to change their work due to external factors. How do you continue to make sure that people can adapt, take on new challenges effectively and remain fulfilled and contributing? In some ways you can say that Learning and Development is becoming the most important industry and profession out there!
It’s true though. Learning and adapting to change is now a core element of every business. That’s the big change I have seen in thirty years. Change is hard, people don’t like it. They find it difficult. We are all inclined to do things the way we always did. Especially when we are under time pressure. L&D has a big role to play in our successful futures.