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My SDF Story with Donna Rodgers

Harry Potter

Where do you work and what is your role?

I am Organisational Development and Learning Manager at Teesside University.

When did you join the SDF?

I joined the SDF about 9 years ago shortly after starting my Higher education career

Why did you want to join the SDF?

I felt it was a great opportunity to connect with other HEIs and colleagues to share best practices, whilst learning from others experiences.

What’s the best thing about the SDF?

I really value and enjoy engaging with the learning opportunities the group offers, including the NEYSDP, CSIG, conference etc. I have benefitted from the personal connections and networks and feel the generosity, openness and honesty of the group and people dealing with similar issues in sharing their experiences and resources is invaluable.

What are you working on at the moment?

Rebuilding and driving learning and development/ODL within and across the university. Bringing greater alignment to central and specialist development services, leadership and management development programmes, increased blended delivery approaches along with added more self directed pathways to development. Approach to developing a coaching culture, mentoring schemes and offering robust tailored development opportunities to meet business needs.

What does a typical day look like?

Every day is very different. It is challenging, fast paced and like most of us consists of multiple meetings. In the main I am working to embed a strategic approach to ODL/L&D. I am designing interventions to support the business, whilst engaging in a multitude of leadership meetings to help drive change and performance improvement. I offer advice and guidance along with coaching and mentoring. I am currently working with three new team members to integrate them into our small four-person team. I am driving the ODL agenda at TU to increase visibility and ensure we have a robust service for all staff. I am part of the HR leadership team and support colleagues in aligning ODL with specialist services and strategic approaches. I partner with stakeholders to design and deliver a variety of tailored interventions as well as designing and delivery CPD and leadership and management development opportunities.

Tell us about an event that altered the course of your life/and career.

Playing rugby league and touring Australia as a Great Britain Representative really helps to shape me and I can certainly connect a lot of what I learnt in my youth to my job today. But the main and specific event that changed my life was being made redundant from a beauty salon in Hull that I managed. If they didn’t close the salon, I wouldn’t have taken an office job at npower, and developed my career to where it is today. Whilst I appreciate change can be painful and uncomfortable, I really believe that where change is not severely hurtful, growth will prevail.

The person who has influenced you the most is?

I really struggle with this as I have had a few people inspire me in my life, from old bosses to rugby coaches and players and personal coaches and mentors. I can not think of one particular person.

Work life balance – what leisure activity you enjoy the most?

I have a young family so I spend most my time with them and love seeing them develop and grow. I also love the opportunities to just have fun and fool around with them, a little goofiness is good for the soul! I also enjoy mindfulness and yoga and keeping fit when I can through combat, RPM, Bodypump etc.

Something about you people would find surprising?

I used to be really shy and introverted and hardly spoke to people and was very easily embarrassed. I played Rugby League for 12-13 years from the age of 13, where I also played for Yorkshire and Great Britain, this really helped to shape me and brought me out of my shell.

What’s your greatest fear?

Drowning or strangers appearing in the dark from under the bed

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

This is a hard one, I’m so bad at remembering names lol! But here goes: Ryan Reynolds, he’s surely going to add some fun. Richard Branson, so I can ask about his approaches to having a successful company whilst coping and managing his dyslexia. Julia Roberts, I love her movies. Paul Matthews, people academy – I find him insightful and like his people centric approach. Maybe a couple of rugby league players, too many to choose from. And of course I would want my family there.

What would your super-power be? 

Killing people with kindness! Lol! But really as a Harry Potter fan I’d love to be magic and be able to use invisibility.

What’s your favourite/least favourite food?

I love Indian or Chinese take away. I like to pick or have party type food so poppadom and pickles, onion bhaji, crispy duck, chicken wings are my favourite, My least favourite food is Pizza and strong, stinky cheese.

What’s the worst job you ever had?

I have had two, cold calling for a glazing company and packing in a factory.

What thing would improve the quality of your life?

A wand to freeze time! Ability to balance work, career & promotion, young family and home life more easily without feeling guilty at times for not being able to achieve everything.

What’s coming next for you?

I am continually trying to develop my skills set and exposing myself to situations that push me out of my comfort zone. I have been given more leadership responsibility and driving the ODL strategy with the hope to leading in the long term