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Nurturing Talent: An Inside Look with Our Dublin Studio Learning & Development Manager Sinead Costello

Following the recent nomination of our Learning & Development Programme in the Irish HR Champion Awards, we wanted to chat with our multi-talented Learning & Development Manager Sinead Costello about her role and the importance of L&D programmes in a creative studio.

What inspired you to pursue a career in Learning & Development?

People. It has always been important to me to have value in my career and something that aligns with me personally. There have been many people in my life, managers, friends, coaches that have believed in me and pushed me to do my best. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without having those people in my life. Being in L&D, I get to champion others, help them grow, identify their potential and give them the support they need. L&D can be used as a positive strategy to tackle gaps, solve problems and implement solutions in a creative manner. My cup of tea!

What role do you think technology plays in the future of learning and development, and how are you incorporating it into your programs at Brown Bag Films?

The last few years in the education space and L&D has been game changing. Especially, having to transition into an online and hybrid world. We have seen so many creative softwares being launched that can provide an engaging experience for learners. Utilizing technology, such as e-learning, breaks down the existing barriers to skill development and creates increased accessibility.

One of our most recent projects—The Academy—saw the launch of our new Learning Management System. This is a game changer and is a knowledge bank that we can store and track our employees training, development and progress.

In your experience, what are some of the biggest challenges facing organizations when it comes to developing their employees, and how do you overcome those challenges?

Time and prioritization. Deadlines, priorities and working reactively hinder the development process. Our human capital is our most valuable resource which is often overlooked. When looking at immediate gratification and results, the ROI in L&D is not visible.

Pitching L&D to be a strategic and proactive solution helps to navigate these challenges. Connecting our development strategies to our overall business objectives, ESG and current climate helps to leverage both employee engagement and the bottom line.

How do you make sure that the training programs provided are engaging and relevant for all employees, regardless of their background or job function?

Engagement comes down to being dynamic and flexible. Having training programs available for all different functions for the business and different levels. Learning is not a one-size fits all and needs to work in partnership with the employees. Here at Brown Bag, we offer bespoke skill training for our creatives, soft skill development for our people leaders and support workshops in the form of financial, physical and mental wellbeing. This approach allows employees to focus on their own professional development and pick and choose what they want to participate in.

How do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in learning and development, and what resources do you rely on to do so?

Well, fitting my vocation, I love learning myself and developing my techniques and practice. I am constantly looking for new tools and resources to utilize. If there is an innovation in the L&D space, I am first in line to try it out. I have a great network of L&D professionals and I am a member of the Learning and Development Institute in Ireland and CIPD. Through these two designated bodies, I have attended several CPD courses and I am up to date on the latest in the L&D and HR space.

Can you share an example of a particularly successful training program you've designed and implemented here at the Dublin studio?

One of my most recent training programs is the Brown Bag Films Grow program. This was a revamp of our current skills development program that was tied to the Irish s481 tax credit. I saw an opportunity to leverage the program to work on employee’s performance objectives and go beyond the tax credit criteria to add even more value for our staff. The program has been running for a few months and we have had great feedback. The participants feel invested in and excited for the new skills they are developing which will benefit the production.

Can you speak to some of the unique offerings available at Brown Bag Films?

At Brown Bag Films we offer multiple programs, both regionally and globally. Two of our unique programs are our Global Mentorship Program and our DEAL hour program. Our Global Mentorship Program partners employees across studios to be mentored in a topic they want to explore. We have run four successful cohorts with many partnerships continuing well past the end of the program.

Our DEAL hour program is a regional program based in our Dublin studio. This Drop-Everything-And-Learn hour has been a great way to block out and protect time for training in our production schedules. Our DEAL hour is an opportunity for our employees to work on their own performance objectives, attend a webinar or complete a course on our LMS or LinkedIn Learning.

Miranda Madden

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