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My SDF Story with Julie Stock

Where do you work and what is your role?

I work at the Open University (OU). My role is Learning Manager Compliance, Coaching and Mentoring. What this actually means, is that I oversee the compliance training across the OU, co-ordinating between different people/areas in the OU to ensure that people are completing their compliance training. I manage our coaching service, which has both internal and external coaches. I oversee mentoring, liaising with others who manage mentoring schemes as well. Plus, anything else that I am asked to do, which adds a bit of variety and includes facilitation, consultancy, budgets/procurement, evaluation, etc.

When did you join the SDF?

I think I was a member a number of years ago, but let it lapse. I re-joined in 2021 and joined the Eastern Region Forum (ERF) around then too. Since the later part of 2021, I have also been the Co-Chair of the ERF as well – in for a penny 🙂

Why did you want to join the SDF?

I was looking to expand my network across Higher Education and personal areas of interest to me. I wanted to learn more about what others were doing and how this could be brought into the OU, or what I could share with others based on what we were doing in the OU. I love being able to collaborate with others and learn from them, as well as share my own experiences and learnings with others.

What’s the best thing about the SDF?

A community of other learning and development professionals that support each other, a place where challenges can be shared, and an opportunity to learn from each other. A community that is open, friendly and happy to share best practice, ideas, top tips, etc. A community where I don’t feel alone.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on several exciting projects at the moment. Compliance training it’s all about creating more engagement to bring our completion rates up. I have worked with others in the OU to get some benchmarks introduced and a dashboard, so that Deans/Directors can see more visually with a traffic light system how they are doing and where they need to improve. Who would have thought that compliance training could be exciting! 

Coaching and Mentoring it’s all about raising more awareness, so I am running some coaching taster sessions and a Coaching and Mentoring Clinic as part of our Learning at Work Week (13-17 May) activities.

Mentoring, in addition to raising awareness of what we already offer in this space, I am also setting up a self-match mentoring scheme. I hear stories that hybrid working has shrunk people’s OU world, so the self-match mentoring scheme is going to help both mentors and mentees find each other more easily.

What does a typical day look like?

I’m not sure that I have a typical day, each day looks a bit different depending on what’s happening. I always like to start the day with a bit of planning, what are the important things I need to do today, anything that didn’t happen yesterday that needs to. I always like to end the day with a bit of reflection. With the pandemic my reflection stopped, I wasn’t commuting, so my daily reflection practice stopped. However, over time I realised just how important reflection was for my wellbeing and confidence, so for the last six months I have been concentrating on “my Top 3 Things” – celebrating the things that have gone well that day. It’s really helped my confidence and I am a real advocate for this technique.

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

Back in my early 30s, I was very ill, it put a lot of things into perspective for me. I sought some career advice – who know career planning was a thing – and it turns out I was in the wrong job! So, my career in Human Resources was launched from that moment. I got a lot of support from the OU, and still do, and have been able to do lots of different things within the HR world, but I knew from the beginning that I wanted to work in learning and development, and I achieved that just over 12 years ago, and never looked back.

The person who has influenced you the most is

My husband, he is a real champion of who I am and what I can do. I suffer a lot from imposter syndrome and a lack of confidence, but he always knows what to say to me to give me the boost I need to take on new challenges, like co-authoring a chapter in a book, my personal goal this year.

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

I love social history, so we are National Trust and Historic Houses members. I love learning about how people lived, worked, etc. so also love going to living museums. I also enjoy reading and I am a member of a book group, which has challenged me to read much more widely and get out of my comfort zone. We love the theatre, musical theatre especially. I like to watch TV and find time to colour every day. I can lose myself when colouring, so for me, it’s a great way to bring in some mindfulness activity to the day.

What’s your greatest fear?

I have two – heights and spiders – well anything creepy crawly really.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Tom Kerridge – I would need a top chef; my cooking is not brilliant. I would then invite – Florence Nightingale, Victoria Wood and Henry VIII

What would your super-power be?

Kindness – when people describe me, they always say kind and caring. So, I guess that’s my superpower.

What’s your favourite/least favourite food?

Favourite food is anything Italian, least favourite food is raw fish.

What’s the worst job you ever had?

When I joined YTS (Youth Training Scheme) straight from school – you have to be a certain age to remember this! I worked as a Kimble Labeller, printing the cardboard tickets that you find in clothes. Worst job ever – noisy, no creativity, too many rules, just not me!

What thing would improve the quality of your life?

About 12 months ago, I started doing a 9-day fortnight with compressed hours. What a difference that has made to me and my energy levels. I love my long weekends, where I can have lunch with friends, go off exploring, etc.

What’s coming next for you?

I am not sure, I have a great opportunity to co-author a chapter of a book, something I have always wanted to do, so that’s my personal goal this year. I have some great days out and theatre trips booked, and I will find some time for a few afternoon teas – the best meal ever! We have both lost a parent over the last couple of years, so we have both reached a point where having fun and creating memories, is one of the most important things for us.