Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Lizzie's Training Course

Recently went on a two-day training course at Sheffield Hallam University to look at creating value for attendees through event management. I had no idea what the course would entail, as I wasn’t sure I was an event manager, but there was only one way I would find out!

The structure of the course was unusual - a variant on the ‘un-conference’ (where the attendees set the agenda). We had a session of listening to the facilitators take us through some of the key points in event management, then a presentation by the Head of Fundraising at Sheffield Mencap and Gateway. We were then split into groups with the task of producing a fundraising idea for Sheffield Mencap and Gateway, putting into practice what we were learning from the course.

Lunch on the first day was at Roast, a lovely little health-food cafe near the main Hallam campus. They put on a luscious spread of ‘superfood’ or ‘brain food’ for us, kicking off with a yummy raw beetroot and apple smoothie shot - so yummy I went back for seconds! We had a menu on the table that told us what each course was designed to stimulate and improve, which made the indulgence of eating lots of tasty food even better! One of the nutritionist lecturers from Hallam came along and gave a brief talk on the importance of food and getting the right balance, which was food for thought (sorry!)

Back to the grindstone, and the afternoon was spent productively coming up with an idea for Sheffield Mencap and Gateway (my team decided to hold a Festival of the Arts, including film, theatre and dance, learning disabilities awareness week, and awards ceremony).

We went to the Leopold Hotel for a networking dinner, which was lovely except I was late because I got confused about what time it was. The nice waiter gave me an extra big glass of wine though so all was well.

Friday morning saw us having some chill-out time in the Showroom cafe, drinking coffee and reading articles. Everyone agreed how good it was to have some time out to talk with colleagues and actually read things rather than trying to fit it in during the normal and hectic working day. I had a chat with one of the facilitators about what we do in the Process Improvement Unit, as I had a different job role to the rest of the group. I really appreciated the one-to-one advice, and was assured that I was an event manager despite my earlier misgivings.

Back at the main site we had an ‘over to you’ session, where questions were answered or points discussed in more detail. We finished our projects and gave our presentations to Lucy from Sheffield Mencap & Gateway, and it all went very well. A quick evaluation session followed, with the main evaluation form being sent later this week, then it was home time. A busy two days, but very rewarding.

At first, I wasn’t sure how it related to me. On the surface, none of what was being discussed had any relevance to my job. I soon learned to look deeper however, and found a wealth of knowledge and suggestions hidden there. Gratifyingly, we are already doing a lot of what was suggested, and it was interesting to see how closely the two mirrored each other in certain points, such as continuous improvement. A couple of articles from the Friday morning will be useful to show my co-workers and I think they will be of interest, and I’ve linked up with a couple of people from the course on the Internet since then too. All in all it was a very rewarding experience, once I remembered the old adage of getting out what you put in!

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