While working in a large corporate organisation in my former life, I found it was encouraged to take workshops like: ‘Becoming a better presenter’, ‘Effective Frontline Management’ or ‘Building better teams’. But as someone who is very much an introvert, I couldn’t think of anything worse!

While some of us value these kinds of workshops to develop skills, this model doesn’t always work for a modern, rapidly-changing workplace. What if your professional development needs to be a little different to cope with changing or increasing demands, especially where technology is concerned? We are always continually learning when working with programs and tools and it can get a little tricky, if we’re not quite savvy enough to find the information we’re after.

Moving from a large organisation to a small start-up, I found that you need to adapt, continually evolve and share knowledge with others about the new bits and pieces you learn on a daily basis. Peer to peer learning is the new normal and is better for a workplace that needs on-demand learning to implement solutions fast.

In almost two years in the start-up world, I have taught myself a diverse range of skills such as how to build a website, use a variety of Learning Management Systems, design with rapid e-learning authoring tools, use animation software, and so on. I did all of this with some help from valuable mentors in the beginning but for the most part I figured it out myself.

I’m here to tell you that it’s entirely possible to take control of your own professional development! Don’t wait around for seminars and workshops with nice pastries and bad coffee. We need to keep up with the rapid evolution of tools and software, so using your initiative is the only way to go.

Here are some quick tips to finding ‘savvy solutions’ when working with technology:

  • Use Google – This may be an obvious one, however, Google is full of information and once you start ‘googling’, you will start to figure out which sites are helpful to you and your needs (and which ones are not!)
  • Watch tutorials – you can generally find a tutorial on almost anything in YouTube, however, if you are learning a new tool or piece of software, you can usually find tutorials specific to this on the creator’s website.
  • Reach out – Most of the time you’re not thrown completely in the deep end without any guidance, so use mentors and experts from both your professional and personal network to learn as much as you can (and always take notes!)
  • Pay for support – When purchasing a subscription to a new piece of software or tool, always pay the extra for support. You will generally find most subscriptions offer chat support or forums – you cannot put a price on the support offered by these software specific experts.
  • Short courses – You can usually find a short course on almost anything – try places like Lynda.com, Udemy.com and for something a little different try: gohighbrow.com
  • Speak up – Talk to other people about what you’re working on – you never know what they’re an expert in themselves. Even if they’re not experts, sometimes they can offer a different perspective or fresh idea that changes the game.

The support you need to learn fast and on the job is out there – it is just a matter of finding it. But once you’ve found what you need to piece together new skills yourself, it won’t take you long to quickly become an expert! And once you do, pay it forward by sharing your solutions with others.

Let’s all take advantage of this modern, sharing economy and democratise knowledge.

Tara Ridsdale – Head of Production, BRG Learning and Development




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