Meet our Learning and Development team

Posted 19.01.16 by prhcareers

“We’re not afraid to try new things, push boundaries and do things differently.”

Meet our L&D team – Nicola, Cara, Sophie, Alex and Yasmin


Hello, Team L&D – could you tell us a bit about what you do?

We provide learning and development support to all Penguin Random House UK teams. We partner with people across the business to work out what their development goals are, and how we can help them get there.

We run the Penguin Random House Academy, which is a hub for people to come and hone their skills, develop their thinking and move their careers forward. Through the Academy, we provide programmes, courses and resources in a wide range of areas. So whether people are looking for a course to help improve their presentation skills, a coach to talk through their career goals or a mentor to support with a new project, we’re here to talk it though.

We also know that sometimes one size doesn’t fit all and so we work with departments to support the design of more bespoke training. We also run events to promote learning at work and careers in publishing to the widest audience possible.

What courses and development opportunities have people most enjoyed over the last 12 months?

We have a great course called ‘Think Creatively’ which is all about being creative, in a practical way. We partner with the The Thinking Business to deliver this course which provides tools and techniques to stimulate new ways of thinking and help create fresh and original ideas.

Colleagues from across the business have attended, from editorial and publicity to rights and sales. They’ve told us that learning to explore different ways to brainstorm and create ideas for projects has been particularly helpful as well as fun.

Our Creative Leadership Programme is also really popular. It’s a 6-8 month programme, designed to give our leaders the support and tools they need to develop and lead Penguin Random House into the future. It’s very practical and designed to build on your strengths as a leader, so everyone takes away something different depending on who they are.

As part of the programme, our groups have the opportunity to hear from some inspiring guest speakers, work with a social enterprise on their business challenges and work with one of our internal coaches who support them to achieve their goals. It’s not all hard work though, there’s also time for some fun evening activities too! People who have taken part tell us how helpful it’s been to work with colleagues from across the business, both during and after the programme – there’s always someone you can pick up the phone to and ask for advice or share an idea.

In December, we also got involved in the Hour of Code, a global movement which aims to introduce anyone from the age of 4 to 104 to the basics of coding. We teamed up with to offer employees a chance to try their hand coding, from programming Angry Birds to trying out JavaScript. It proved to be very popular for people who work in all kinds of departments from Strategy to Internal Communications and gave them the opportunity to try out something that they wouldn’t get the chance to in their day-to-day roles.

What’s special about L&D at Penguin Random House?

 As a creative business that is passionate about what it does – L&D is done in the same spirit. It’s about being close to the business; knowing what its challenges and goals are, and working as a partner to achieve these.

We’re not afraid to try new things, push boundaries and do things differently.

We’re a friendly bunch too. With pretty much any excuse for a cuppa, we love getting to know people from across the company, being curious about what they do and finding out where we can support them.

What’s been most exciting to work on over the last 12 months?

In the autumn we collaborated with We are Unstuck to design and deliver ‘The Art and Craft of Facilitating Creative Spaces’ with one of our teams. This one day masterclass, using We Are Unstuck’s Design Thinking methodology, combined theory, reflection and practice demystifying the why, what, where and how of facilitating. The day introduced the team to a number of creative tools that they put into practice on current, real life examples.  The group left the session with lots of useful new techniques and confidence to help them facilitate meetings and workshops.

We’ve also been developing our support for people managers over the past few months, working with our colleagues at Balance. Last year we introduced a new 1.5 day programme called People Manager Essentials. This was designed for those new to being a manager and included some of the core considerations to help you get started. We looked at areas including: delegating, understanding your management style, giving feedback and gaining confidence in having those more challenging conversations. There was also an opportunity to get back together after those first few months to share experiences and ideas. We piloted it last year with 24 of our new managers and they told us there were lots of techniques they could start using straight away, it was fun and interactive and they loved that there were no PowerPoint slides. We’re now planning to roll it out across the company this year.

What’s coming up in the next few months?

We’ll be working in partnership with the National Theatre and their team of experts on a number of exciting workshops and events. Drawing on techniques used by actors and directors in the rehearsal room, people will be able to develop their skills in anything from communication to delivering feedback.

 We’ll also be further developing our support for line managers, continuing to promote our mentoring scheme and thinking about how we feature our consumer business strategy at the heart of our programmes.

We’re also re-vamping our Copywriting workshop, which is run by our very own in-house expert, Senior Creative and Digital Copywriter Colin Brush.