Sorcha Bangham - L&D Manager

Sorcha Bangham

Name: Sorcha Bangham

CIPD membership: Chartered Member

Current job title: L&D Manager

Current employer: Oxford PharmaGenesis

Location: Oxford

Employment status: Employed (PT)

Previous role: Secondary school teacher

What was your previous role?

I started my career as a secondary school teacher before making a conscious decision to move into HR. I worked for many years as a HR generalist, before taking an opportunity to move into a specialist L&D role.

Why did you decide to move into your current role/field?

I was fortunate to work in a company where there was no progression for me in terms of job title but plenty of opportunities to have autonomy, lead on exciting projects, gain experience in new areas and really add value. L&D was always my preferred area and I looked to move into a role that allowed me to do more of this. My current role is a newly created position and I was delighted to have the opportunity to lead the L&D function from its beginnings and add real value to the organisation.

What transferable skills did you identify would be useful in your new role?

Inspiring people to learn and adapting my approach to the target audience.

My self-belief was important. You have to trust yourself that you will succeed. I am most comfortable in ever changing environments and like demonstrating courage to challenge and try new things. The other side of this is the ability to accept failure – accepting mistakes will happen and learning from them. Forget the mistake. Remember the learning!

What did you focus on to sell yourself during the application process rather than experience?

My genuine belief in the benefits of learning and looking for a better way. The best people I have worked with are those who freely admit they don’t know everything and are keen to keep learning. They tend to share their learning and this can be a great motivator for others. I also demonstrated how my personal experiences impact how I approach situations.

What role did continuing professional development (CPD) play in your transition?

I have learnt a huge amount since becoming a parent to too many children, which I readily apply at work. Trust me, if you can keep the peace between 3 under 5 year olds, you can deal with a room of Directors. Support from outside work should not be under-rated. Changing roles/companies does affect all aspects of your life and having the support from home to enable you to settle into your new role is vital.

I aim to learn something new every day and share it; online articles, TED talks and networking work for me. My future plan is to study for an MBA.

How has the CIPD and continuing professional development (CPD) supported you during and after your career transition?

I used the CIPD networks for advice and talked through my thinking to make sure I wasn’t totally ‘off the planet’.

I obtained my MCIPD through the experience route, and would recommend this for other members with relevant experience and looking to do a similar career transition.

If you had your time again, would you do anything differently? If yes, what would you do differently?

I don’t think I would have done anything differently. I was clear on why I wanted to change and confident the change I was looking to make was right for me and at the right time.

With any new role, 2-3 months in is usually an unsettled period. It’s at this point that we start to question the move – am I really adding value? What is my impact? Why am I needed? The official induction period is over but you still don’t know as much as you need to and your concern that asking others for advice is greater. Having a conversation with your manager/colleagues can make a big difference. I was prepared to take the feedback and make the changes necessary. Accepting the reality of longer term projects, the impacts of which would not be apparent until much later, is hard but necessary learning.

What are your top 5 tips for someone who is currently teaching and wants to move into a learning and development role as you have?

  1. Look beyond the job title.
  2. Understand who you are not just what you do.
  3. Focus on career growth rather than career progression.
  4. Never under estimate the power of a cup of tea.
  5. Make time to learn something new every day.

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