Kevin Hardy facilitates Chief Executive and Deputy DG Executive Learning Set (1). For the past 14 years, David PanterChief Executive of ECH (2) has been a committed and engaged member of the Set. Kevin has been on a remarkable journey with David and his career through a close rapport over that timeKevin and David talked about why the Learning Set experience is so important to David in that journey.

Kevin: Why have you continued to be a Set member?

David:

For me being in a Learning Set is the best form of professional development. I was involved with a Set in the UK when I worked in the NHS and Local Government for about 16 years before I came to Australia in 2004. High on my list of priorities when I moved to a job in Australia was getting into a Set, particularly because I had little understanding of the Australian public health system and very few professional contacts. I’ve never paid great attention to formal training/learning as for me it is about experience and learning on the job. The Learning Set approach provides a great context for this.

Kevin: What do you get from being a member?

David:

I get the opportunity to discuss, debate and test-out real life work issues with colleagues of equal standing and experience, getting their perspective on what I’m dealing with. This is a safe space where I can discuss things that are not appropriate to share with my Executive Team or Board but are critical to my operational or strategic thinking about the organisation and it’s development. I also get to make some great friends that I can call on outside of formal Set meetings for advice and support.

Kevin: How has it helped you professionally and personally?

David:

The Learning Set environment has helped me think through my approach and emotions at key points in my career – whether its talking through a way to tackle a new roll, getting new perspectives on a difficult issue, renewing my enthusiasm for the next bit of the journey when I’m beginning to tire or helping me sort out my head, and heart, about a new job opportunity. It’s also been a great way to develop professional networks.

Kevin: If someone was considering joining a Learning Set what advice would you give them to maximise the value from the membership?

David:

Commit yourself whole-heartedly and resist the temptation to let Set meetings get written out of your diary as a luxury when work pressure grows and you’re suddenly time poor. For me that 36 hours out is a really important opportunity to check-in with myself and my colleagues and therefore sustain myself in the face of the work pressure.

Kevin: If you were sponsoring members of your Executive Team onto Sets, what do you expect, as a sponsor, from HardyGroup and from them?

David:

Currently three of my Executive Team are in Hardy Group Learning Sets and I’ve encouraged them to approach them in the same way I do to get the same benefit for themselves and their careers. I also make sure I tell them to go when they think they shouldn’t because of work pressure.

Kevin: If there were ways to improve the Set experience for members, what would it be?

David:

From talking to colleagues I know that each Set is different, depending on the needs of the respective members – therefore it’s important that set members shape the future of their Set and work together on making it a safe and compelling place for learning and development – at the end of the day the Set facilitator is there to facilitate not lead, that’s a responsibility for every set member that they should seize with gusto.

(1) Chief Executive and Deputy DG- level Executive Learning Set(1). HardyGroup Learning Sets use the Sets as a support system for Chief and Senior Executives as well as development for high potential leaders. Members solve major organisational problems, learn and gain support from each other, to ensure the continual professional growth and development of its members and do so in a strictly confidential environment. The focus is on real work, real people, real system issues and the synergy created by learning from each other.

(2) ECH is a profit-for-purpose provider of aged care services – retirement villages and community services in South Australia. To find out more about HG Executive Learning Sets click the button below.

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