Andrew Jacobs is Learning Principal for Llarn Learning. Known for innovative thinking about learning, training, and technology, Andrew has significant experience in a range of roles across learning, training, talent, and people development. This experience has been learnt in a range of industries in both the public and private sector, most recently in central government with HMRC and DHSC.
He has a specific understanding of developing online and digital solutions for learning, social profile, and engagement. He is a Fellow of the Learning Performance Institute (LPI) and a CIPD Leader in Learning. He received the Internet Time Alliance award for his work on informal learning in July 2020 and was highly commended at the CIPD People Management Awards in 2021.
He blogs daily at www.lostanddesperate.com and produces the podcast Women Talking About Learning.
What do you like most about the L&D field?
The sense of satisfaction in helping people. There’s nothing better than when someone you’ve helped comes back and appreciates what you’ve done.
What made you decide to stand for the eLN board?
I’ve had an itch for many years about how we do ‘learning’ in the workplace. It’s often too complex and provision-focused. Over the last 10 years or so I’ve been challenging some of those assumptions and, having the opportunity to work in the mentoring space gives me the opportunity to help others.
What would your dream job be?
I’m doing it! 30 years of experience in the learning field and I’m now my own boss and able to pick and choose the things I want to do.
If you could change 1 thing about the world of L&D, what would it be?
Our focus on collecting input data about the learning support we provide. It leads to introversion and a focus on making better ‘product’ rather than better outcomes.
What does a typical workday look like to you?
I work almost exclusively remotely so start early – anything from 6am isn’t unusual. I spend the first couple of hours each day reviewing what’s new and interesting. I read tons and am looking for the creative sparks. I usually put an hour a day aside for writing. This might be blog posts – which I produce daily – or content for my next book. I may be recording – podcast or video – so make sure my kit is working properly. I produce a couple of podcasts and there’s always admin to do. If I’m not recording, I may be editing; this is the part of the podcast production I enjoy. I may be doing client work. Invariably this will be research, reporting, presenting, or supporting. I may have a coaching client, and I’ll almost certainly have calls with peers and near-peers to discuss what they’re working on and if they need help. The day usually ends with another hour of writing accompanied by LOUD music.
What is your favourite type of training to either build or deliver?
The learning that people can choose for themselves. I’m a big fan of self-determination and the rhizomatic approach to learning where my function is to create the environment where people can learn for themselves.
If you could give yourself advice when you were first starting out, what would it be?
Challenge everything. Just because a book says that’s how we evaluate, design, or deliver, don’t assume it’s the only way. The concept of ‘best practice’ needs to be taken apart.
What has been your proudest moment?
When I heard the edit to the Imposter episode of the Women Talking About Learning podcast. 25 women bared their soles about what being an imposter meant to them. Amazing.
If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?
1979. I’d tell my 11-year-old self not to worry about what others think, to exercise, and travel more.
If you were a superhero, what powers would you have?
The power to give people confidence in their own ability.
If you could share a meal with any 4 individuals, living or dead, who would they be?
What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?
Telling my family about my mental health struggles.
What three items would you take with you on a deserted island?
A laptop, a good Wi-Fi connection, and a PS4
Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without?
Tea. I love it. Must be strong though and, after noon, decaffeinated.
Finally, what would be your top 5 tips for someone new to L&D?
I wouldn’t offer tips to someone – there are so many career specialisms, and topics in L&D, I’d probably ask them 5 questions:
- What do you want to be?
- What do you want to learn?
- How did you get here?
- How do you think I can help?
- What do you need?