Rachel Sedgwick, Learning and Development Manager at JDX, one of the UK’s fastest growing companies, shares her perspective of what it’s like working within a culture of inclusivity, coaching and empowerment, and the creative approaches the company is taking to bring these values to life with its inaugural Learning Festival.
I started at JDX earlier this year, and from the word go I knew it was the right place for me. With almost 10 years of learning and development experience in a variety of sectors, it becomes easier and easier to spot the genuine article. Since its inception in 2012, JDX has worked hard to challenge and transform the finance industry, and by putting learning and development at the centre of its ethos, it has been able to attract and develop talent way beyond your usual ‘city suspects’ for example, we have a 54 per cent female bias.
The learning and development department is an intrinsic part of our business model and is the platform that underpins our success and phenomenal growth. From its commitment to an extensive tiered academy structure, where each level has a blend of technical and soft skills development, to the personalised glasses featuring success stories of ‘JDXers,’ learning and development is truly at the core of the company culture.
Our rigorous training academy for all our people is also something we are very proud of and clearly sets us apart from our peers. It focuses on preparing anyone for management and leadership roles and so supports inclusivity in promotion cycles. It also encourages a leadership style centred around coaching and diverse thinking.
What I value most about my job is the opportunity to come up with fresh and creative ideas to bring these values to life for everyone. Our upcoming Learning Festival is a perfect example of this and a real passion project for me. Taking place in the first week of July, the four-day festival will allow all ‘JDXers’ get to design their own agenda, picking one session from a technical skills stream, one from a soft skills stream and one from a creative stream.
The technical stream includes sessions such as ‘Neural Networks – Take a Look into the Machine’s Mind’ where JDXers will learn about how artificial neural networks (ANN) or connectionist systems work, and what influence they have on the wider world. The soft skills stream will hold workshops such as Branding for Success, enabling employees to define and understand how to make the most of their personal brand.
Last but by no means least is the creative stream. Activities in this stream have been selected to encourage everyone to push themselves out of their comfort zones. JDXers can choose from acting classes with a British actor who has over 40 years’ experience Les Dennis, learning martial arts with Hollywood stuntmen or playing in a rock band. My personal favourite in this stream is ‘The Fearless Choir’, a session for all noise makers, even those who insist they ‘can’t sing’. We will create an a capella choir from scratch allowing staff to immerse themselves in carefree singing – the kind they might do in the shower – and collaborate to create a showstopper (ear plugs optional!).
The Learning Festival is also about having fun. It’s easy to forget how much fun it is to learn a new skill but doing so is incredibly satisfying, unlocks hidden potential and develops your capacity to learn. Ultimately, we want delegates to take away directly transferable skills, while also increasing their potential to grow and develop in other areas. Working at a company that is actively creating and supporting new ways of doing things with people from a wide range of backgrounds is very important to me. And if we can have fun doing it, all the better!