My Learning Experience in Kenya, Africa
Not long ago in my position at IIP Scotland I felt like I wasn’t being challenged enough. I began to feel restless; I had always wanted to do something different and unique but I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. That is until the opportunity to take part in a Farscape Overseas Learning Experience in Kenya appeared. I had high expectations going into this trip and they were all met in a profound experience which provided me with exceptional personal and professional development. I am so grateful to our Expedition Leader Ken Hames for making this happen.
Going to Kenya was great for me to break the normal boundaries of my routine and to interact with people outside my usual social environment. One of my most memorable experiences during the journey was meeting the Samburu and Turkana tribe’s people at a local village, which was an incredible experience I’ll never forget.
Spending time with the team out there really helped too. The planning, preparation and team discussions prior to the time spent trekking allowed me time to both mentally and physically prepare myself for the task at hand, which helped control my emotions whilst in the Kenyan bush. There were really challenging times during the trip relating to the heat and the altitude, where self-control was really important. During some moments, determination and the desire not to let the team down is really what keeps you going. So having had this Experience I can now easily deal with challenging situations in the workplace where emotions need to be controlled to gain a desired outcome.
We took part in a local management school’s experiential training programme whilst in Kenya and during that time I really learnt a lot about leadership behaviour; which is a fundamental role within any organisation and it doesn’t just mean the person at the top! Behaviours are a crucial component of effective leadership and having an experience like this has challenged my thinking and way of working with people for the better.
Since returning to work I have had a real confidence boost and have recently been promoted. I think the trip definitely contributed to this. Prior to the Experience there had been a similar position advertised but I didn’t apply because I felt too busy and didn’t feel ready for the extra responsibility. The main focus of the Experience was to develop my skills, knowledge and behaviours particularly associated with leadership and then to transfer the skills learnt in Kenya back to the workplace. With my confidence and self-awareness raised I was prepared to take on more responsibility and realised how capable I really was.
I’d advise anyone to go on an Experience like this; the value of doing something out of your comfort zone will pay off in dividends! It’s a great opportunity to develop your career and experience something new. From a business perspective times have changed and people no longer have a ‘job for life’. So the importance of attracting talent and retaining it is more important than ever. Investing in experiential training through an Overseas Learning Experience is a brilliant way to tackle these issues.
By Gregor Megson, IIP Scotland on behalf of Farscape Development