Bev White

My name is Bev White and I am the CEO of Harvey Nash Group, a $1bn global technology recruitment, IT solutions and leadership services group with 36 offices across the USA, Europe and Asia

Learning is a forever thing

When I was a young child I discovered a deep and abiding love of reading. I used to go to the school library and borrow books, and on a Saturday morning before going to cinema club I would be taken to our town’s library. I would wander around the shelves of books, breathing in the heady scent of old books, take down many intriguing volumes, drawn to them by the cover imagery or a single word that hooked me in. Sat on the floor I would be discovered by my mum lost deep in the story unfolding ahead of me. I loved books so much that when the lights were switched off and I was told firmly that it was time to sleep, like many children I would reach for a torch and read under the bed covers, or I would hang out of the window, reading by the street lights. That stopped when a neighbour taking an evening stroll discovered me leaning out the window and told my parents.

I laugh now about the conversation I had with my mum after many days of worrying about a burning concern I had going around my head. I read a lot, alongside bike rides exploring the world or as others would call it, exploring the neighbourhood. My big worry at 7 years old was a serious one. Would I run out of books to read? After all the library was big but I knew all the shelves by heart. When I asked mum that question she at least did not laugh at me, she instead sat me down and talked about the many authors in the world, the new books that were being written every day. It was such a relief!

I realised with a lot of happiness that my love of learning and exploring, a deep and abiding curiosity about life would be a life-long thing. It would not suddenly end abruptly, at no point would I declare, ‘that’s it! I am done learning.’

So it is in the workplace. That from our first day in our first job is the very beginning of our professional learning journey. We learn in so many ways. From those around us we watch and learn how others do their work, we try their ways for ourselves and adapt them to our own. We participate in more structured learning programmes, we watch TED Talks, read books and journals, take online tests to help us understand our skills gaps. We are never the ‘finished article’, instead we are a glorious work in progress. Some of what we learn and try will serve us well, we will be ever more successful because of these things. Some of what we learn will push us to the point of discomfort as some skills we gain can be a little scary until we master them; think of driving or riding a bike for the first few times. Some of what we learn just does not serve us well, so the key here is to recognise that quickly and move on to something that works better.

In the past year we have introduced many new ways of acquiring new skills, of trying out new ways of working. We are committed to the development of everyone. I have personally learnt a lot in this last year and every day I am discovering something new to master. I have heard from many colleagues around the world that I am not alone in this. Being curious and learning makes life so much more enjoyable. We are looking all the time at how we can create those moments that matter for everyone in the businesses, providing many opportunities to learn is a cornerstone to making this happen.

By way of sharing some resources with you, Mel our CPO recently shared these with me. I hope you find them useful too:

Lifelong Learning Books (goodreads.com)

Books Every Businessperson Should Read (454 books) (goodreads.com)

As we head towards the weekend do take time to rest and recuperate and do keep safe and well.

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