Paul Wright leads our What Engineers Need to Know About Contracts course. This course is designed to provide you with a grounding in contract law for engineering and construction contracts, and how it is used to help deliver successful projects and supplier relationships.
1. Can you tell us more about your career to date?
I joined ICI after doing a PhD in physics, sponsored by BP. I progressed from technical roles through into more commercial roles becoming Engineering Contract Manager in the Contracts Purchasing Group, looking after international framework deals for engineering equipment. I left in 1998 and started work as a consultant and trainer, and have been doing it ever since. I both directly with clients and through bodies such as IChemE, CIPS and EEF (now Make UK).
2. What made you decide to become a trainer?
Initially I was mostly a consultant but since the global financial crisis I have focused on training.
3. What was your first experience of being a trainer?
My boss made me. I suggested we should get some procurement training for our sites and businesses, and he said “you do it”. Luckily we had an experienced training company to help.
4. What is the best thing about delivering training?
Its always different, even if you have done the course many times before, because the people are different.
5. What’s the hardest part of being a trainer?
“First night nerves every one night stand” as Ian Dury sang (on What a Waste). That and when there is no feedback from the delegates.
6. How do you know if a training course is going well and what does good training look and feel like?
Good is lots of interaction, comments and engagement. It might slow us down but the point is to share understanding not read some slides.
7. As a trainer, what’s the difference between teaching a public training course and an in-company one?
Focus. With an in-house we can be clear about what is needed and what isn’t, and the level and experience of everyone there. On open courses we have to cover a broader range of content and of previous knowledge.
8. What do you think the future of training looks like?
Mixed.I think there will continue to be a role for face to face training, and now that online training has been forced upon us I think we can see the benefits. Webinars and videos are fine, but I think there is good value in being able to interact, otherwise you might as well read a book. I hope to be retired before AIs can fully replicate human trainers.
9. How do you recommend someone embeds the learning from a training course in their day-to-day work after attending a training course?
Training is soon forgotten in the hurly burly of everyday life. It is about putting it into action as quickly as they can.
10 Many people, especially senior people, often cite ‘lack of time’ as the reason they can’t undertake training. How would you respond to that?
You never have time to avoid the problem but you always have to find the time to fix it. A penny of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say. Besides, things move on and if you don’t move with them you you suddenly find you have been left behind.
11. Training budgets are often managed by the HR department, rather than the Engineering department. How do you think chemical and process engineers should pitch the benefits of technical training to their colleagues in HR?
Well, I would make the case for commercial training. It is not something covered in Chemical Engineering degrees (my daughter is studying CE now, and it is not on her syllabus) but, when qualified, Engineers work with suppliers and contractors all the time. When you talk to a Sales Engineer focus on the “Sales” not the “Engineer”. Let’s level the playing field.
12. Thinking specifically about this course in particular, what sort of people should attend this course and what would they learn?
We are surrounded by a web of contracts. A web we rarely bother to look at or think about. They help us to get our job done and to protect ourselves and our organisation. We should understand what is in them and how they work.
13. What was the best training course you’ve attended and why was it so good?
Probably the commercial skills training I had at ICI which helped me understand how business works, rather than my technical role in it.
14. What’s the most memorable feedback you’ve had from a training course attendee?
Probably the delegate who told me it was a waste of their time. The other delegates said it was brilliant. It reminds me to focus on the individuals as well as the group (as well, not instead)
15. What advice would you give to anyone thinking about becoming a trainer?
Don’t, there are too many of us already. Seriously, think about why you want to do it. It is not enough to be a subject expert, and not enough to be a good presenter. You need to be able to do all that, and also cope with the unpredictable nature of it all, and the unpredictable income.
16. And finally, what’s your proudest achievement as a trainer?
I get asked back to do it again.
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