Taking Orders or Providing Direction?

by Rossana Espinoza 0

Keynote 2 Taking Orders or Providing Direction?  Balancing Service Delivery and Strategic Influence as a People Function



In an organisation aspiring to Lean principles, demand from the customer is key in shaping the delivery of your service or team.  But how do you respond when your professional judgement suggests that they are asking for the wrong thing?  When your organisation has a very clear and singular purpose, how do you ensure that your focus on that goal doesn’t lead to all other goals being neglected?  Drawing on experience for the transformation change programme at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), Nathan will be sharing some lessons learnt and ideas for the future from an HR and Learning and Development perspective.


Nathan Palmer leads a diverse team at the RNLI, responsible for learning for volunteers and employees across the organisation. The team deliver a wide range of learning interventions, from boat handling and engine maintenance to leadership development and coaching skills. With over 30,000 learners spread across the UK and Ireland, delivering impactful learning experiences in a variety of ways and constantly developing the L&D approach to make best use of time and resources is critical to ensure people have the skills they need to save lives.

Nathan’s background is in primary education and having taught as a class teacher, he joined the RNLI in 2007 to run their water safety education programme in the Greater London area, then taking responsibility for this across the UK and Ireland from 2009. Nathan then managed fundraising, customer service, project management and planning teams in a variety of senior roles at the RNLI – ultimately focussing on his passion for developing people and developing teams and therefore moving into his current L&D role. Alongside his primary role, Nathan is also passionate about inclusion and led the formation of network groups for the RNLI, including founding their LGBT network.

Outside the RNLI, Nathan is a keen walker, singer and chef (of sorts!). He also runs the RNLI choir for some extra festive cheer each December!


Please note that two of our keynote speakers have agreed to speak in support of their charities therefore please  bring two £2 coins with you to the conference to donate to these great causes ( of course you can always donate more if you choose to do so!). Envelopes will be available on the tables and a box will be available at reception.