A reflection on 11 great years

Copyright: Kay Buckby

When myself, Adrian Green, Serena Dolby, Monica Eynon, and Frank Jordan attended a Learning and Development (L&D) conference back in 2009, we all chose to attend different sessions.  I had the idea that it would be good to share our learning; that meant we’d get ‘double bubble’ for our money.

The Development Company paid for a conference centre for us to meet up, a half day ending with lunch, and we shared our learning, trialled new sessions we were designing, and chewed the cud regarding L&D. I remember Serena saying “I’ve got so much from this…I wish we could carry on.”.

That got me thinking – I’d enjoyed our get togethers, so would others benefit, too? And so I wrote articles for the Business Times, and started calling local clients and self employed trainers, to gauge interest.  In June 2010, the first 16 attendees got together at the Park Inn in Northampton, and our strapline, name, mission, vision and values were designed and agreed using the conference café method of collaboration. I came up with the logo, as a professional just couldn’t grasp it, and a simple logo was born – the county outline in the county colour!

What have we achieved in 11 years? Well, we are the most successful networking group in the county, having won Networking Group of the Year in the local SME’s in 2018, (and current holders!), and silver in the SME National Finals at Wembley in 2019.

I am reflecting on why we won those awards. Our network has:

  • Put food on the table for many people. We know trainers who have won YEARS of work as a result of us, as David Balcon said “It’s the gift that keeps on giving”.
  • Collaborations have been made – Jennifer Fitzgerald, Kathy Stiff and Kate Jackson, all NLP practitioners, met at an event, and remain friends as well as professional collaborators.
  • New products have been developed and designed, such as my management behaviour cards, enjoyed by coaches, trainers and managers.
  • New approaches have been designed and developed from collaborations, such as Julie Cooper and Alan Berck-May designing a drama based learning experience – The Extra Mile.
  • We’ve visited local companies who have kindly hosted events:
    • Motor Neurone Disease Association – the only national charity set up and based in Northampton
    • Scott Bader – who knew the John Lewis Partnership was based on their commonwealth?
    • Other companies who kindly hosted along the journey were Novacroft, University of Northampton, Volkswagen UK (in Milton Keynes), Starting Off, and The Development Company. Apologies if I missed anyone.
  • We’ve raised £1865 for good causes.
  • Over 800 people have attended face to face events, and 40 people have attended online events during Covid, thanks to Claire Poole of CIWM for hosting.
  • Our shout outs for trainers have helped companies find associate trainers, including MK College, the Curve Group, and The Mallows Group.
  • One member went to UAE as a result of a website enquiry we received.
  • Thanks to everyone who has run a session for us – we’ve been blessed with so many generous people who have run sessions for us. I kept it as diverse and up to date as I could, and I thank you for your generosity of time. I have benefitted enormously, both personally and professionally. From experiential learning to UnConferences, it’s been a blast.
  • We’ve had visits from two Institutes, the Institute of Sales and Marketing, ITOL, and the worlds’ largest association for L&D people, the Association of Talent Development (ATD)!
  • Our membership grew at one point to be over 900. To add yourself to the list, please email: kathryn@themallowscompany.com 

Thanks to everyone who attended events, wrote blogs, shared tweets, commented on Facebook, shared their know how, and helped me along the way.

It’s been a blast, and now it’s time for someone else to take the network to the next level. I know Rachel and her team at The Mallows Company are the right people to do this.

With metta to you all

Copyright Kay Buckby, June 2021

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