A Trainer's Perspective: In Conversation with Melanie Todd

A Trainer's Perspective: In Conversation with Melanie Todd
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Chayanika

Last updated April 22, 2012


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Melanie Todd has around 15 years of project management experience – she is the Project Director for Pearson Research & Assessments and also a member of the Senior Management team.  Here, Melanie is responsible for business development and a project management team.

According to Melanie:

“I am now a self-employed project management consultant and trainer with a particular interest in emotional intelligence in project management to create more resilient projects and organizations.  I am also involved in providing programs for children to improve their social and emotional skills.

I have a husband, a 10 year old boy and 2 dogs.  I’m from the UK and have been in Australia for 15 years – 11 years in Melbourne and 4 years in Brisbane.  We live near the beach and I love to run, swim, walk, cycle, and do yoga.  I am a member of the Redcliffe Surf Life Saving Club where I’m one of the Age Managers and an avid follower of my son’s rugby union team – the Redcliffe Seasnakes. “
  • Why training? What made you take up training as a profession?

To be honest, I am not sure, as I have always been terrified of public speaking.  However, I really struggled with understanding all the concepts of PRINCE2 when I first sat through the course but the trainer was very understanding and worked with me until I got it.  It occurred to me that it was a really great thing to do.  Plus I needed a way to supplement my consulting income when I first became self-employed!
  • How important is it according to you for a professional to get reskilled from time-to-time?

As the rate of technological change continues to increase rapidly, I think it is vital to be regularly assessing your skills, your career direction and establishing the gaps in your knowledge.  If you don’t take responsibility for your own self-improvement you will get left behind.  Don’t use the excuse that – “there is nothing in the budget for training this year”
  • How important is project management training?

This is a tricky question.  I know many great project managers that have never had any formal training and then a few formally trained PMs who could do with a bit more experience!  Having said that, project management requires different skills to normal management – projects bring about change which often results in culture changes so it requires a broad range of technical and soft skills.  Many PMs have some of these skills, but not all of them.  Project management training also helps organizations to streamline their methodologies and improve their chances of delivering projects on time and within budget.
  • How can project management training help a candidate in his/her career?

Just try getting a job as a Project Manager these days without some formal qualification! Because there are so many facets to project management it is useful for people relatively new to the work force to undertake Project Management training to allow you to either get a broad overview of what is required from a project manager or focus on areas which are not your strong points, such as scheduling or budgeting for example.  Even if you are a senior manager, not a project manager, chances are you are impacted by projects in some way and it is useful to understand what is involved in project management.
  • What are the challenges that you face as a trainer?

The biggest challenge in a training course is quickly getting a grasp of each of the candidate’s knowledge levels and learning styles and adapting the delivery to suit.  The 2nd biggest challenge is keeping a group of adults engaged for several days at a time.
  • Can you share a couple of instances which have been unforgettable experiences for you while training?

I will never forget the very first training course I delivered where my nerves were at breaking point and one particular candidate was obviously attending the course against her better judgment.  I won’t go into details but her attitude caused challenges for the other delegates not to mention for me.  She taught me many valuable lessons – mainly about not quitting!  Every other training course has been a very positive experience and I have met some amazing people through training. I learn a lot from the delegates and make sure that I spend time reflecting and reviewing each course to improve on future courses.
  • Lastly, would you like to share some do’s and don’ts with the PRINCE2  aspirants

Come with an open mind.  I have had people say “this is too basic” or the opposite: “this is too complicated”.  PRINCE2 is something that can be used by anyone for any project but must be tailored.  Also, many delegates underestimate the amount of work involved in the course.

About the Author

Chayanika is PR Associate Manager at Simplilearn.com. She has done M.Phil in Women’s Studies and is pursuing Phd in the same field. She handles the PR and marketing communication activities of the organization. She maintains cordial relations with the clients, potential clients, media, top management, and employees.


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