VSC Lecturer Sophie Scott Attended UWTSD's Coaching and Mentoring Conference

Friday 30th June 2023

I had a wonderful time attending the University of Wales Trinity St David’s in-person conference, on June 27th. The theme of Coaching and Mentoring in a Climate of Change was variously taken up as:

  • Facilitation of change through the practices of coaching and mentoring
  • Need for change in professional cultures trapped in organisational habits and traditions
  • Difficulty of change, particularly in organisations with their myriad teams made up of myriad individuals
  • Enforced change to work circumstances and expectations, which continues to impact us as we navigate our way through the post-COVID pandemic era
  • Climate change and the importance of developing flexible and sustainable practices.

Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Elena Rodriguez-Falcon gave a moving keynote speech on the value of formal and informal mentoring, while Kim-Ann Williamson MBE spoke passionately about the potential both for and of systemic change, describing her 38-year-long drive to embed reverse-mentoring across the civil service as a respected, trusted and working process.

            Julie Crossman delivered a particularly engaging workshop on visual reflection, citing Land and Jarman’s (1992) research into child creativity and the drastic decrease this suffers between ages 5 and 10 and then 15 years old. We crafted our way into a playful mindset and, while I’m not ordinarily a playdough fan (the smell!), I was utterly won over. It felt crushing to witness our glorious model people gradually be reduced to little boxes as we worked our way out of creativity and into productivity.

            I was delivering a workshop on the power of questions, sharing practical advice and the science behind how to deepen and encourage or discourage engagement, thinking about the limitations of outcomes research and the problem of communication myths and anecdata that often drive training manuals. Others presented on resilience (Beverley Jones), authenticity (Joy Ogeh-Hutfield), and there was good discussion around Lencioni’s model of teamwork (2005) and how Team GB made the boat go faster in 2000 (spoiler: they didn’t rock it) with Ffion Jones.

Swansea gave us sunshine and rain, UWTSD were a wonderful host, and the event left delegates with a real sense of both group and individual purpose and connection, impressive since these are not always the consequence of formal conferences. I walked across Sail Bridge towards the station with the wind in my hair and a clear determination to continue striving for better conversations in an ever-changing and demanding world. Talk is action and our voices are the most powerful resource we have.

Seated L-R: Kim-Ann Williamson MBE & Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Elena Rodriguez-Falcon. Backrow L-R: Sophie Scott, Joy Ogeh-Hutfield, Gary Metcalfe, Rebecca Jones

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