By Mike Collins on the 13th January 2013

2012 was a BIG year for me in terms of career development after leaving Direct Line Group (formerly RBS Insurance) to pursue a community management role with DPG plc. I left the organisation I’d been with for 11 years and the safety net that this provided to create and develop a brand new and exciting role.

There were risks attached to the move of course but I’ve never been adverse to taking calculated risks. Bob Wagner (DPG MD) and I saw the opportunity as we both had a vision of what the role would involve and offer to DPG, I wrote my job description with Bob and detailed what I felt the accountabilities would be for such a role and jumped in. I’ve had to start again to some extent and build trust with my new colleagues and manage the change that my role has brought but it’s been an exciting time. There were no rules or guidelines in terms of what direction I could or should take the role so I’ve approached the last 7 months in the same manner as I’ve approached things since joining L&D – anything is possible and if you don’t try then you won’t succeed. I’ve been doing the job for just over 7 months and I’m more confident in the role and feel I’ve really found my feet now. It’s my intention to blog about the role in more detail this year as I’m keen to continue sharing the journey I’m on and the new things I’m learning along the way.

GeekWhilst I still class myself as a learning professional through and through, my role now includes a whole host of other things, things that appeal to the geek in me (like Search Engine Optimisation) but all these new things do genuinely excite me as I learn more about developing a community, brand building, content strategy, social media management and marketing. My role now includes content management of the DPG website and to say I’m in love with Google Analytics is an understatement. I use it for both the DPG community and the DPG website and the data, trends and information you can get from this fantastic tool is tremendous.

2012 was also the year I started this blog and it was first and foremost going to be a blog about learning and development but this year I’m going to write about more diverse things as well, the things that I’m now doing and learning about everyday. The way I use social tools and the things I share via my social channels is also changing and evolving as I work in a broader field than just L&D and as I use social tools in a different way to just personal development. I manage all the social accounts for DPG plc (including @DPGplc on Twitter so please connect with me there) and naturally I’m finding a lot of my time now going towards developing these channels to support the DPG brand and provide a great service for our customers. The online community is the hub and my aim is to continue working towards a more social and open business. As a leading CIPD qualifications provider the opportunities to enhance and evolve the manner in which we deliver CIPD qualifications is huge and something I’m very excited about this year.

Seems such a long way away from late 2011 and the early part of 2012 when I was part of a HR Transformation Programme and leading an LMS project that didn’t quite go to plan. As I reflect on the last 7 months things have changed significantly. I’m a lot happier in myself, my lifestyle and way in which I work has changed and I feel free; like I’ve broken the shackles of corporate life, a corporate life that I’d known since I was 23.

2012 also saw me do my first public speaking:

It was the Training Journal Winter Conference on using Social Media in Learning that got me thinking in detail about the journey I’ve been on since joining L&D in 2006. In little over 6 years I’veĀ  gone from completing my CIPD qualification and delivering inductions to developing and managing an online community for a leading CIPD Training Provider. An approach that puts social and collaborative learning at the heart of what we do, underpinning the way we facilitate our programmes. I’m involved in web design, content strategy and marketing and I’ve even started to understand HTML and CSS, yes I’m aware of the geek implications here.

I set out with no plan to follow this career path, in fact I stumbled across L&D by chance really but I’ve worked hard and found something that I’m good at and thoroughly enjoy. 6 years isn’t a long time and in this time I’ve had 5 different roles all have been a progression of the last. That’s an average of just over a year per role and represents pretty quick career progression. This fast track development has come from a combination of things but I think the biggest impact on this development and progression has been down to social tools.

Introducing collaboration tools to my team in 2007 set me on the road that I’ve continued to follow and social tools have featured heavily in what I’ve done and how I do it ever since. It’s taken some time as the timeline for change demonstrates but this sort of change does take time and I’m managing the same sort of change now at DPG. I wanted to share the presentation from the Training Journal conference and I hope this blog gives it a little more context. Using social tools both in and outside of my previous organisation helped me in so many ways and I know for a fact without them I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now.

So yes, 2012 was a big year for me but every year has been a big year since finding a career I thoroughly enjoy. It has opened doors and provided opportunities that I could not have hoped for or imagined but here I am and I’ll continue to make the most of this thing called life and I’m sure 2013 will be just as big if not bigger.

So this blog might be a bit different this year but it’s a reflection of me being a bit different and as I grow professionally and personally I will continue to think about and approach things in the same way:

Anything is possible and if you don’t try you won’t succeed.

That’s my mantle for 2013 what’s yours?