Hazel Spain, INSTANDA’s Global L&D Lead, discusses Learning and Development

Posted on 31st August 2022

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Hazel Spain, INSTANDA’s Global L&D Lead, discusses Learning and Development

Posted on 31st August 2022

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We spoke to Hazel Spain, our Global Learning & Development Lead, to hear about her vision and initiatives to innovate training and career progression at INSTANDA.

Hazel also tells us about new trends in learning and development (L&D) and insurtech 2022 and lets us in on some exciting projects she’s working on.

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I started in the insurance industry around 30 years ago. I've done pretty much everything in the back office space in insurance, from customer service to processing claims.

About ten years ago, I took a side step to learning and development. When I took a career break after having my children I helped out a lot at my children’s school helping with reading and learning. It was here, I developed a passion for learning and watching people grow and develop.

So for the last ten years, I’ve focused on training in the insurance industry, from operational training, career development and about five years ago, I transitioned into HR, aligning learning with talent management, performance management, HR cycle, and so on. Two years ago I qualified as an executive coach and I champion mentoring and coaching in the workplace.

I'm a mum of three young adults and live in Kent with my two black cats. Exercise, wellness, and mental health are really important subjects to me. Last year I got a Peloton bike, and I love it.

What brought you to INSTANDA?

I was really looking for the next step in my career. I was head of learning and development at my previous job but had no decision-making or authority. So, this was an opportunity to lead and build the learning function from scratch, which was very appealing.

The second reason I came was because of Sara Shipley, INSTANDA’s Chief Human Resources Officer. I've worked alongside her before, and she's very inspiring. So the opportunity to work with her was an unmissable opportunity.

What are your main responsibilities at the company?

I've come into the learning and development role, which is part of the HR function. It's about supporting staff, helping them to develop, upskill and bringing a variety of learning and development resources to them such as interpersonal skills training, technical training, management and leadership skills.

Learning and Development should be aligned with INSTANDA’s business goals, so, in terms of our vision and our growth, what do our staff need to be able to meet those goals? What are the required skill sets, and what skill set are we missing? How do we help them to develop and upskill?

Those are my main responsibilities.

Learning and development looks different for different companies. How does it look at INSTANDA?

It's super exciting because it's a blank canvas. I've been able to come in and bring my vision, my ideas. I'm curious and quite innovative, always keen to try something different, think outside the box, and try to make a difference.

Sara has given me the chance to bring my vision of learning in the workplace and that’s empowering. My strategy is to ensure training is accessible to everybody and that they can do it in the way that suits them, ensuring a culture of inclusion.

How does your work foster innovation at INSTANDA?

First, it’s an innovative company with an innovative product. INSTANDA is changing the way insurers do business. This means our staff are also innovative. From a learning perspective, we need to make sure they are equipped with the tools to stay creative and find the information they need to keep developing cutting-edge solutions.

Secondly I want the learning team to also think innovatively, by providing resources to staff in a variety of formats using the latest technology and techniques.

We use LinkedIn Learning as our digital content because it's 24/7 access, and employees don't have to log in through our security systems. They can also access it on their phone, or other mobile devices as required. This gives them the choice over when they undertake their learning and training.

What trends do you see forming in learning and development, particularly in insurance?

I see three main trends at the moment.

First, we’re in a hybrid situation where people are trying to navigate between working in the office and working from home. L&D was quick to switch from face-to-face to virtual formats when the pandemic struck and the trend is that companies are sticking with virtual because it’s cheaper and more convenient, but we are seeing a trend where L&D directors are now considering the value of moving some specific training or learning resources back to face-to-face. It’s an interesting debate.

The second trend is insurance is moving from a hard market into a soft market, meaning there is a whole generation of workers who will not have worked in these conditions. From INSTANDAs point of view, we need to think about how our platform can help our clients in these new market conditions and how we can use that to sell our product more widely. I feel like there is an element of training required to understand market conditions.

Third, organisations are now seeing the value of learning and development as aligned to the business goals and needs, which is a positive shift. As a result, we are seeing more L&D at the top tables having a say and tailoring the training to the company's needs. Currently there are lots of L&D jobs going in insurance now.

Could you tell us about some initiatives you’re working on?

For the first three months after I started at INSTANDA, I’ve been setting the short term strategy and laying the foundation for L&D. So now we have a digital content (Linkedin Learning) platform and an in-house hub where staff can access sources to learn. We launched LinkedIn Learning three weeks ago and already have 80% engagement!

I’m also putting a marketing plan in place to signpost and encourage learning. We want people to engage and find out what they want and need to learn. I have started to put a reporting dashboard together to help us collect the right data around L&D. I’ve also refreshed the onboarding program. Now I am working on specific HR objectives plus working with different functions to develop training specific to them.

On the HR side, we’ve developed career development workshops and resources, which launched this month. In the next six months, we’ll focus on how we support our managers as we grow, i.e., what tools and skills they need to manage their tasks and staff.

We have a bunch of exciting projects in the pipeline.

We'd like to say thanks to Hazel for her time. If you'd like to learn more about how INSTANDA can help your business, talk to the team or try our free demo.

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