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Samantha Link, part 1 - an interview regarding Learning @ Nomad Week

Samantha Link is Nomad Digital’s Global Talent & Development Manager, joining us in 2015. She works across the business to ensure we recruit the right talent, recognise and reward exceptional performance, provide effective training and development opportunities that address technical, operational, business, and leadership skills. Samantha also drives a range of initiatives that help make Nomad a great place to work.

Tell us about Learning @ Nomad Week (L@NW)?

“L@NW started last year in 2019, towards the end of September. After successfully promoting the UK national Learning at Work campaign, I had the idea for a global Learning@Nomad (L@N) initiative – tailored to the needs of our business. In the first L@NW we ran a variety of online sessions and workshops from our head office and we received really good feedback from everyone involved.  Following a few other follow-up L@N events I knew another week dedicated to learning and development at Nomad would be well received.  As I suspected the technical and product sessions proved to be the most popular (attendance wise). Although, the personal and wellness topics surpassed my expectations too, so this year we built on the momentum surrounding these topics. In our current climate (Covid-19), we wanted to focus on bringing colleagues together digitally, keeping us connected, and as L@NW 2020 was online it increased global participation significantly. Most of our work force is currently home-based so focusing the whole event around digital learning was the obvious choice.”

Tell us about the format of Learning @ Nomad Week (L@NW)?

“Each day is themed by our four values, Expert, Trustworthy, Innovation, Collaboration with the fifth day centred around health and well-being, named “Happy and Healthy”. Each day had a variety of live sessions, including workshops, presentations and demos, all supporting the theme for that day.  Most were delivered by colleagues I had approached, and some were delivered by external companies we brought in for specific topics.  All colleagues received a timetable for the week and chose what to join based on their work commitments and area of interest.  A few of the sessions were targeted at a specific audience and I had organised pre-registrations for those.  During L@NW I sent the daily schedule to everyone early each morning with a reminder and link to the live sessions and recommendations for what people could do outside of the sessions, in their own time, still supporting our theme for the day.  Everyone who works at Nomad receives their own LinkedIn Learning account, so we are not short on material or places to host content.  The daily email was a great way to keep it simple for people – share the previous day’s sessions and highlight easy ways to participate each day.

Xavier Champaud, our Managing Director, kicked the week off with his opening talk, which really helped set the scene and give prominence to the week.  Nick Camara, our HR Director, gave a closing speech at the end of the week and shared the highlights and what we are doing next to support our people’s continued development.


Can you give us an example of a “Happy and Healthy” session?

“A large portion of the Happy and Healthy sessions are based on areas we’ve raised already across the business, for example, a couple of years ago we raised menopause as a worthy topic for discussion and organised an educational session for those interested. We ran focus groups afterwards and due to the high engagement from that we brought Sharon MacArthur (Miss. Menopause) in to run a session at last year’s L@NW and again this year. It opened so many conversations for women at Nomad and for the men who joined to consider how they support the women they work and live with. Sharon is also based in the North East which allows us to source locally, supporting our community.

Another popular session during L@NW 2020 was our informal ‘Time 2 Talk’ discussions.  We run them every other month, with a different mental health theme each time; during L@NW 2020 we covered ‘mental wealth’.  We focus on sharing tips and ideas, as well as having an open and caring conversation about our experiences.  It really helps colleagues get to know each other in a deeper, more meaningful way.”


How does L@NW help development?

“Given the nature of my role I could talk about developing talent all day, so I’ll try to be concise!  I am a big believer in the business value of a learning culture, and for individuals learning must be fun, engaging, and relevant.  It’s vital that at Nomad we offer people new learning experiences and a variety of ways to engage with learning. L@NW is a great opportunity to remind colleagues about the various development opportunities available at Nomad all year round.

It also helps us tie together different learning styles and encourage more effective learning for colleagues who may not always dedicate the time needed to really develop skills.  For example, in September we had an all-day product workshop for technical roles, which was very hands-on and great for kinaesthetic learners.  During L@NW we followed up with a Q&A session to give the learners a chance to put into practice what they had already covered and then reflect on what else they wanted to explore.

We also use it as a time to showcase success stories.  HR facilitated a brilliant session with career progression case studies.  Several colleagues, from different regions, departments and levels of the business, were introduced by HR and then shared how they have developed and progressed at Nomad.”

What is the learning approach at Nomad and how is it incorporated during L@NW?

“Our learning approach is based loosely on the “70, 20, 10” model; the concept that around 70% of what you learn comes from your on-the-job activities, around 20% comes from your social experiences (who you observe, feedback you get), and around 10% will come from a formal training course. It is not the numbers we focus on, but the fact that there is so much learning happening during day-to-day work and formal training courses are probably the least effective method as a standalone intervention.  We encourage our people to recognise that in Nomad there is such a variety of fast-paced work that we are all constantly learning.  Events like L@NW help us come together to take stock, reflect on how much we have learned and how we can share that, whilst focusing collectively on what is important to the business and our values.  In the month following L@NW, development planning is the focus of people’s 1-1 meetings, so we’ve hopefully whet people’s appetite during L@NW and given them the tools to evaluate progress and plan next steps.”