Delegate Blog: My Mindfulness course experience written by Jane Smathers, Team Leader, IRD

Why did you select this particular course?

I have a particularly challenging work and home environment – I wanted to do something that could potentially help me manage stress better both at work AND at home. I read the description about the mindfulness course and thought that this was a good opportunity for me to focus on my own personal development for once.

What aspects of the material covered did you enjoy/take home from the course?
I enjoyed all aspects of the course, but found that some aspects really resonated with me. I always considered myself to be an extremely self-aware person, however the concept of ‘being non-judgemental’ with our thoughts was a real eye-opener to me. I have been practicing gratitude daily since the course and have already seen the benefits, not only with my interactions with my colleagues at work, but with my partner and children. Living in the ‘now’ rather than waiting for the next thing to make me ‘happy’ has become my way of life and overall, I am feeling extremely positive.

How was your facilitator?
Chantel was brilliant – she personified ‘mindfulness’ and the benefits that it can bring. Her calm way of delivering the material gave me confidence that it works. It made me want to implement the exercises into my life, so I could have some of that same overall Happy and calm demeanour.

How did you find the networking experience with other participants?
For me it was useful, mainly to meet other professionals who experience similar stressors. Generally getting outside ones comfort zone with a small group of people in a training environment can be uncomfortable. But because of the nature of the course, we all had something in common.

How have you continued to use the skills learnt in your day to day role?
I am still ‘Busy’, this is not going to change – but one of the biggest changes in me as a result of trying to practice Mindfulness and incorporate it in my day to day life, is that I talk less. I listen more and when I do speak it is more measured and less judgemental. This assists me to be a better people leader. Especially because I also work with new and emerging people leaders to develop their leadership competencies.
I am making a conscious effort to be grateful for what I have and I show that to the people I love every day. It is currently still a challenge, however I can already tell that my ‘default responses’ and old ways of reacting to situations are starting to change. I look forward to continuing to create the new and improved version of myself

What professional development topics do you hope to explore in the future?
I want to continue to grow and learn about Mindfulness and related topics. If I have the opportunity to attend future courses, I would be looking to grow and develop skill that I have already learned.


My training course experience by Ingrid Le Fevre (Road Safety Coordinator)

I selected Essential Management Skills for EAs and PAs for a professional development course as I wanted to hone up on existing skills and further myself in other areas.

I was able to take good notes from the facilitator and the standout for me was the networking. One of the best things was exchanging business cards with people – you never know when you will be needing those contacts.

However there were lots of other useful topics like time-keeping, list writing, remaining professional at all times and dressing smartly. Oh yes and how it’s important to have time to yourself (I need to re-read over that one I think!).

In terms of the facilitator, Elaine was an excellent professional lady who knew her stuff. She was easy to listen to and made you feel like you have known her for a long time. You were really receiving information from a very experienced professional.

I continue to use these skills today and have on my CV that I am a severe multi-tasker!

When things get a bit quieter in my role, I hope to make some time for me and see what is the next step might be for me and my career development.

How do you solve a problem like…a technical professional

If I am trying to get the bearing off an axle and have a bearing puller it only takes me a few minutes.  If I don’t have a bearing puller it can take me all day (with lots of cursing on the way).  It is all about having the right tools. 
Over the past 40 years I have worked closely with technical managers who are looking to improve the way their teams operate or are struggling to handle a challenging performance problem.  In many cases the results fall short simply because the manager didn’t have the right tools. 
People Management Skills for Technical Professionals is designed to provide tools for managing behaviour and dealing with issues.  It explains the psychology of why people behave the way they do and provides practical actions that can help a manager to achieve maximum results for the least amount of effort.  As one manager commented “Most courses I have been on tell me what I should be doing but this is the first one that helped me to understand why and taught me how to do it.”
(And don’t ask me how I know about getting bearings off axles – without a bearing puller!)

Why consider external training as an Administrative Professional?

I was reading a blog by Nicky over at Practically Perfect PA the other day and it really struck a chord with me. Nicky was horrified at an Industry Snapshot report which indicated over half the respondents had not attended a training event in the previous two years – she couldn’t imagine this occurring in any other profession.

It got her thinking about reasons administrative professionals should consider training and I thought they were so on target that I have outlined them for you below:


Nicky points out the importance of having confidence in your own career choice. If you view yourself as ‘just’ an admin with little right to development due to being in a support role than you can’t expect your managers to see you as a true professional either.

Unique Skills

The role of an administrative professional is one made up of many skills, both hard and soft. From technology and report writing to communication and conflict management, continuous training ensures you stay current with new developments that can often save time and money.

Career Objectives

Objectives are measurable, tangible parts of your career development. It’s your chance to communicate to your manager that you wish to progress in the role, have thought about what skills might be useful and have looked for options in the field. This does mean regular 1-2-1 contact and formal reviews with your manager so don’t be afraid to request this. Nicky even suggests scheduling the meetings in their diaries yourself!

Business Case

It’s not enough to mention you are after some vague training of some type. Resources are lean and so the organisation and your manager need to know it would be money well spent. A business case allows you to professionally present why the training would be a good return on investment (ROI) for the organisation.

Value added training

Events and conferences differ in content, price, focus, location and duration so it’s important for you to take the time to research and select options that suit your needs. As Nicky rightly points out, if your manager can see you have done your homework on this than they will be more open to approving your request.

If you haven’t visited Practically Perfect PA already, it’s a fabulous resource for administrative professionals. Read other articles and tips from them here.

Top qualities of great leaders: create your leadership blend


Like with the best coffees, you can blend a mix of leadership skills and attitudes to achieve your desired taste.    

Make a list of people you admire. Chances are they have some traits in common such as charisma, vision, passion, self-confidence, authenticity and ability to engage others.

What do you value in a leader?

Enjoy some of the best articles on leadership we selected for you . You will see how leadership is an art you can train and grow.

7 Traits of Effective Leaders

An innovative leadership model you can easily pick up

How Influential Are You? Measure It!  

Discover authentic leadership

What leadership skills would you like to master? 

To create your own leadership blend, join our upcoming training courses facilitated by top trainers .

Build your vision with our popular Strategic Thinking and Planning course and learn how to engage with Difficult People and Different Personalities. Improve your Assertiveness & Self Confidence at Work and strengthen your influence by learning the key techniques of Influential Leaders.

See our full range of courses for professional development in management to upgrade your skills and succeed in your role.