Talking L&D with Gregor Kempt

Gregor Kempt is Head of Learning for Xero and on the Learning Advisory Panel for the Association of People Professionals. In the recent People Planet, Gregor was interviewed about L&D!

Gregor has worked in a number of learning roles over the last 20 years including as a programme manager, instructional designer, learning and organisational development advisor, facilitator, learning and development manager and now head of learning at Xero. He has developed most of his knowledge and skill through experience but has supplemented it with  core learning from a professional qualification. This gave him a solid base on which to keep building his capability.

Gregor says that what he loves about learning is the fantastic opportunity it gives people to fully engage in their role and career.

He says he believes in New Zealand there’s a huge opportunity to be more innovative in the way we approach learning with an equally huge challenge to keep it simple and engaging.

That’s what keeps him fired up.

Why are you in L&D and what do you love about your job?

I got into L&D close to 30 years ago (crikey I’m old!!) when I was working in the insurance industry. I developed a sound knowledge of our products and services and had a natural personality and drive to share my capability and experience with people around me through training. This opened the door to a business operations L& D role which set me on my way.

For a while I branched out into recruitment and sales before realising learning was where my heart was. It’s such a positive space, identifying needs, problem solving to design solutions and building, delivering and evaluating resources to meet needs.

Why are you on the Learning Advisory Panel for APPNZ?

I was honoured to be asked to be part of the Learning Advisory Panel for APPNZ.  I had never viewed myself as having a lot to say around L&D because I was too busy with my head down pushing forward.  When I stopped to think about it, I realised the workforce around me was getting younger and my reservoir of experience was looking pretty good.

The Advisory Panel gives me an opportunity to focus that experience in bringing other professionals along the path and in doing so tests, clarifies and develops my thinking by having conversations with fellow professionals.

What do you see as the biggest challenge in learning right now?  What can we do about this?

One of the challenges I see in larger organisations is developing a culture around learning that’s agile enough to work for everyone and easy enough that even the people who struggle to find the time to focus on learning and development, can engage.

If they see value they’re more likely to prioritise their time and focus better going forward.

The way I approach this is keeping things really simple and consistent. If your organisation does the basics well, such as an effective capability and career development process, you’re more likely to fire up people to own and drive their development.

The learner is the first priority, their manager next (as chief coach and supporter). and L&D close behind understanding needs and helping connect or build solutions

What one thing do you think Learning Professionals could do right now to transform learning in their organisations?

I feel one of the more important things you can do is talk with your stakeholders and end users about how they see learning at your organisation, what value they’re looking for from learning and what you can do to help them.

Sounds simple but it can often get lost in the noise of deadlines and priorities.

Learning and development is critical in so many ways but is also something that can be pushed to the side when the pressure comes on.

Our job is to make sure we are continually putting it back in front where it needs to be.

For more about the Learning chapter of APPNZ click here.



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