Learning and Development Q&A: Building for the future through learning

15 May 2023

To mark Learning at Work Week, Janine Mayor, Business Partner, Learning and Development at Suntera Global, explores why learning should be an integral part of our professional journey and how Suntera Global seeks to meet that need…

Suntera Global talks about ‘the journey’ when it comes to skills and professional development. How does that work in practice?
Janine Mayor (JM): Our absolute focus is on enabling our people to build a career for themselves and progress at a pace and in the direction that is right for them. For some people, that means building a career in a highly specialist area. For others, they are more interested in getting diverse experiences in different roles, departments or divisions. It all very much depends on the individuals motivation - and that in turn informs what type and style of learning can support them in achieving those ambitions.

It feels like a cliché to talk about a journey, but it absolutely is. Getting the most out of a career is all about having professional ambition and planning how to get to that end destination. In practice at Suntera, that means having discussions on an ongoing basis with the line manager to reflect on the skills the individual has already achieved, identify skills gaps and producing a realistic personal development plan. That might include support from colleagues, to help gain technical and wider professional competencies through specialist skills and learning.

We are very lucky at Suntera, one of our great assets is our Suntera Academy, a sophisticated learning management system that delivers a tailored approach to digital learning and provides an impressive range of learning opportunities to staff across all locations. It reflects perfectly how learning can be integrated to support an individual’s professional journey. Uniquely, the IP for the software that drives the Academy, is owned by our group and the team led by Luke Doherty, who are in the process of making significant improvements to the software that will enhance the learning experiences of our staff.

Suntera is a global business. Does the approach to learning differ according to location?
JM: Expanding our international footprint is at the heart of Suntera’s growth strategy; we now have a presence in nine locations around the world. What that means is that the learning context will inevitably differ according to the focus of our teams in different locations and the regulatory context.
That means two key things – first, we need to be adaptable and agile in delivering learning. But second, we also need to be consistent in our technical competencies. The digital learning delivered through the Suntera Academy is a key solution here – through the Academy, we can ensure we are consistent by delivering learning developed by our subject matter experts, but we can also adapt and tailor sessions according to the jurisdictional context.

Are there any skills or disciplines that are really gaining traction?
JM: The world we operate in becomes more and more complex – in terms of international regulation - there is a drive towards ensuring technical competence in key areas such as compliance, risk and anti-money laundering to name but a few. But what we’ve also seen - and encourage - is a broader focus on an individual’s skill set. It’s why we introduced our Management Development Programme, and our new initiative “Developing You”, which aims to support aspiring managers to empower them to develop their management leadership skills, share their knowledge, and support their colleagues.

What role do qualifications play as part of the professional development mix?
JM: Qualifications play a big part. We currently have around 60 people actively studying across our global workforce, which represents a significant proportion of our staff. This is a huge investment in time and financial support as a business.

Of course, certain qualifications can be a regulatory requirement, but it is nevertheless a big part of our strategy to ensure we support our people to be equipped not just for their current roles, but to add value to the business in the future too. It’s why we have such good relationships with a broad range of professional institutions and industry bodies – last year, for instance, we were re-accredited as a Platinum Approved Employer by the Association for Chartered Certified Accountants for the support we provide to employees who are working towards their professional qualifications.

How are staff empowered to drive their own professional development journey?
JM: Self-reflection is really important - it chimes with our Group-wide mantra of ‘Empowering Responsible Ambition’. We absolutely do not dictate what our people should be doing – really, it is up to them to focus on how far they want to go at what pace and in what direction. Our role as a business is to provide the tools and solutions for them to do that.

What we do encourage, though, is to be proactive. That’s built into our culture.

Looking forward, how do you see learning and development evolving with the business?
JM: Fundamentally, as we grow as a global business, our technical competencies are becoming increasingly important, and as a result, learning and professional development will need to be more and more integrated into our day-to-day activities.

It does not just stop there, we can all grow as individuals in so many ways, whether that is learning on the job, utilising our professional memberships, participating in CPD activities, studying etc.

The way we do that – is by delivering high quality, flexible, tailored solutions for all our people around the world - this will not only position us as a leading provider in the eyes of clients, but also as a great place to work, where people can come and feel they are fully supported in realising their own personal and professional ambitions.

I find my role exciting and challenging and I thrive on supporting individuals and teams develop to move forward – there is just so much to do!