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My SDF Story with Kirti Swift

small family pictureWhere do you work and what is your role?

For the past 4 years, I have worked for the Organisational Development team King’s College London as our Head of Leadership, Learning and Development.

When did you join the SDF?

I joined the SDF in late 2019 when I returned to King’s.

Why did you want to join the SDF?

Fundamentally, I recognised the SDF as an avenue to increase my understanding of learning and development activity across the sector. At the time King’s were re-establishing their organisational L&D offering, so it provided a platform to learn and benchmark.

What’s the best thing about the SDF?

Every interaction I’ve had has been marked by a collegiality that extends beyond any one organisation. The best things have been meeting a group of people who regularly position operational expertise alongside an ongoing desire to continue to learn. It creates a community that is welcoming and forward thinking.

What are you working on at the moment?

As an Organisational Development team, we have got a lot on! This summer marked the delivery of our first organisational wide staff survey since 2017, and we are in the process of developing and supporting central and local actions plans for the year ahead. Aligned to this has been a repositioning of our strategic people agenda to build a thriving King’s staff community, with the help of re-establishing our existing people values and organisational principles.  In addition, we have just released our learning and development offerings for the upcoming academic year. Last year we had 7,400 colleagues engage in one of our learning programmes, webinars or events and we are hoping for 9,000 this year.

What does a typical day look like?

I will offer up the clichéd answer of no two days are the same – but it’s true. As will be the case for all SDF members, our work as people practitioners means we are subject to the freewill of individuals…it ensures it’s never dull!  While the honest answer would probably be a vast number of MS Teams meetings, a very good typical day is underpinned by working with my team to offer both operational delivery and strategic governance set against our organisational development priorities. Central to this is working with our vast and complex community to find solutions to learning, cultural and people challenges that can be embedded equitability and consistently.

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

Tough question! It’s hard to pin a singular event down, but the one that jumps to mind would be accepting a job at Hult International Business School. It provided me with my first role in HEI, a sector which I see myself never leaving, it provided me almost year on year development and career progression opportunities – transitioning from an administrator through to a member of the campus academic leadership team as well as an adjunct lecturer. Most importantly, it was where I met my wife Sarah.

The person who has influenced you the most is

Professionally, this would be my current director Lorraine Kelly (not that one). Lorraine has been a constant force for good and somebody who demonstrates daily that positivity, authenticity, and graft will win the hearts and minds of those who matter. She trusts, empowers, and celebrates and has allowed me a platform to develop and grow across my time at King’s. I would also be remised to not mention my parents too. They are a perfect juxtaposition that only an NHS Accountant and a Head of Curriculum Development could be. They instilled a perfectionist pragmatism in me, built within a framework of doing no more or less than your very best. They represent the best qualities of any two people I know.

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

I’m a fading yet passionate sportsman and usually never far away from a football, golf club or tennis racket (or indeed from the sofa with it on the TV). Additionally, I am a holiday planning enthusiast and working my way through the world’s best bar list.

Something about you people would find surprising

I have done a lot of running in my 20s and early 30s, having completed 29 half marathons and 5 marathons and one ultra marathon (although I can know be found waddling 5ks around Tooting Common). I was also on BBC’s pointless too – although the less said about that the better.

What’s your greatest fear?

Whilst I don’t think I would say I have a greatest fear – I have a perpetual desire to not let down anybody who has shown faith in me.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Bruce Springsteen – to provide pre-dinner soundtrack. 

Serena Williams – to keep everyone entertained with great stories. 

Brian Clough – to keep everybody in line. 

Tom Kerridge – to  help with the cooking. 

Betsy Flanagan – to help with the cocktails

Matt Berry – to lead the after-dinner charades

What would your super-power be? 

If I could morph into Metabolism Man every now and again, I would really appreciate that. Either that or teleportation, having an Australian wife makes for some long flights.

What’s your favourite/least favourite food?

I don’t understand cucumber, it tastes like water that has gone past it’s use-by-date. I also don’t get on with Indian food. Conversely, I love everything about brunch and the associated food. I probably could live off poached eggs and bacon if given the chance.

What’s the worst job you ever had?

I did the usual post school job working in a popular fast-food restaurant, which happened to be positioned outside a premier league football ground. In a desperate attempt to impress, on my second day I claimed to have mastered the tills – which was debunked within 5 minutes. I don’t think I ever recovered.

What thing would improve the quality of your life?

I am so fortunate to have a brilliant life with wonderful people in it. Like most people, it’s taken hard work, luck, and being a beneficiary of circumstance. As I have become older, ‘time’ is the one commodity that I wish I had more control over and need to focus more on protecting any opportunities that help slow it down.

What’s coming next for you?

I am hopefully on the cusp of setting up lots of exciting development opportunities for our colleagues across King’s in early 2024 – including setting up dedicated ILM accredited management and coaching journeys. I am really looking forward to seeing how they land and develop.  From a personal perspective, I am working on completing a CMI level 7 Leadership diploma following recently completing a CIPD diploma in people management. I have some wonderful opportunities for conferences in Spain and across the UK, as well as considering continued to collaborate with wonderful colleagues through events such as SDF’s festival of Learning & Development.