The story behind Symposium Learning? - Symposium Learning

March 14, 2016by admin
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Update on our journey

Dear Customer, Friend, Connection

We are now celebrating the 4th month of business and I would like to mark the occasion by thanking my first customers who are trusting Symposium Learning by sharing our vision, investing in our relationship, trusting us and partnering in our practice and learning ethos.

I proudly attended the Social Media Summit in Dublin (#SMSummitIRE) and while sitting with the audience, feeling inspired and challenged, the idea for this blog post arose.

Essential to a good Content Strategy, I have learned, is the STORY we intend to tell: great stories make great examples and behind the examples lies the learning experience.

What is the story that brought about Symposium Learning Institute?

As all good stories, also this one begins with “A long long time ago…” This memory has been only recently revived in me when clearing my parent’s attic and found the oh-so-common box of memorabilia our parents collect during our school years.

At secondary school an Art Class project was assigned asking to “draw the profession you see yourself in when you grow up”. I drew myself as a “Manager” – with name tag on the door, long hair, entering a room with table and chairs.

Today I wonder, what did it really mean to a 14-year-old to grow up to be a Manager? What meaning has it taken after 20 years of practice and what meaning does it have today, writing as the founder of an institute of learning for leaders and managers?

Collins English Dictionary teaches us that Manager stands for:

“ ( Professions) a person who directs or manages an organization, industry, shop, etc.*

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 (c) Harper Collins Publishers

In the early 90s the word “Manager” already had trickled down into the Italian language and it with the status, the expectations, the aspiration that the word includes. It whispered the WOW factor: the knowledge of being in charge, of making decision for myself and others and to be at the top-end of the table.

However, as my inexperience showed, the team and people to would be the organisation, the industry or even the shop, are silently missing from the picture.

The story continues and I would like now to share with you the strongest memory I have of my largest mistake as a manager.

In 20 years of corporate career I travelled the road from junior agent to senior, from supervisor to trainer, from Centre Manager to Operations Manager of 5 outsourced centres, which I supported from their start-up phases. From Dublin to Paris, London, San Diego, Tangier, Bucharest and Manila.

For a time I held two functions at once: I was the Dublin Call Centre Trainer and the Team Leader of the Mediterranean Team. In the effort to do-it-all, I addressed a feedback to a senior team-member in a post-it:  I left on the screen of his computer while he was on his lunch break. I imagined that he would appreciate my effort to be present while not being present, to show I was paying attention to his work and that I had an active remark to make.

The list of good intention and appropriate managerial considerations where nullified by that little square of sticky yellow paper against a computer screen.

Luckily the team-member was assertive enough and we had sufficient open communication channels for him to voice how impersonal, matter of fact and dictating that post-it sounded. No smiley face could warm up a performance feedback left without giving him the chance to respond: it contained no tone of voice, no body-language, no leadership.

Today I still only use post-its as bookmarks and references annotation!

Back to the present: how those recollections inform my present?  Where is the learning experience? What does Symposium Learning’s core message “Enable your Management Style” stands for?

The word “able” signifies “to can” – to develop and enrich one own experience and skillset. The references to “style” is to acknowledge our individuality and uniqueness, our direct experiences and shared communal knowledge and values. “Management” emphases people and connection: organisation, shops, and products are empty without their customers, our colleague and essential team members.

At Symposium Learning we understand a Manager to be

“A person who connects with other for the shared interest to succeed.”

A Manager is s/he who has willingness to create, produce and achieve a shared goal. Be it operating in a Start-Up, a Social Enterprise, a Charity, an established Corporation or Venture Capitalist.

For those who wonder: YES – the picture I share is of the original drawing, dated Milan, 1990, Class 3aG!

Thank you kindly for your support and attention

Samantha Di Gesaro Magee

Founder and Chief Learning Officer of Symposium Learning

PS> We take this occasion to direct your attention to our on-line EXECUTIVE BOOKCLUB – a collection of book reviews, video and links that aims to reduce your effort in sourcing high-standard information on business practices and useful managerial content.