What I heard at the 2023 AITD Conference! 

Australian Institute of Training and Development’s 2023 Training and Development Conference was the first in-person conference that the AITD had run since before COVID, and it was great. The speakers were engaging, the attendees enthusiastic and the conversation loud. (And coming from me, that’s saying something!)
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There is never enough time, is there? We all have too much to do – our inboxes are full and our to-do lists are overwhelming – but we optimistically book that training session or workshop in our diary in a few months thinking that we’ll surely have some more time by that point. Then a week before, or maybe the day before, you realise that you are going to be out of the office for two or three days and you are overwhelmed again, prompting cries of: ‘I don’t have time for this! Is it too late to cancel?’ But, hopefully, if you do attend the event in question, you end up finding that it was well worth the time investment.

That was certainly the case when it came to the Australian Institute of Training and Development’s 2023 Training and Development Conference. This year Peeplcoach was the Principal Sponsor of the event. It was the first in-person conference that the AITD had run since before COVID, and it was great. The speakers were engaging, the attendees enthusiastic and the conversation loud. (And coming from me, that’s saying something!)

As a sponsor we had two objectives. 

The first (obviously) was to meet leadership, training and development professionals in order to share a little about Peeplcoach and how we are accelerating the leadership development of emerging, developing, frontline and female leaders. 

The second, and more important, reason was to find out the key issues organisations are facing when it comes to learning and development, and the solutions that they are exploring, trialling or implementing.

For those we met over the three days, it was wonderful to meet you. For those we did not have the chance to meet, let us share what we heard and the problems that this incredible group of learning and development and human resources professionals were solving.

1. It is not about people management; it is about leadership and social influence. 

Organisations and leaders need to change the internal rhetoric. Great teams are not managed or dictated to. They are led, inspired, coached, motivated, mentored and influenced to be high-achieving and high-performing.

2. War for talent, war for talent, war for talent!

Of course, it was no surprise that this was a key topic of discussion. And while talent and recruitment teams need to find new ways to attract talent to their organisations, L&D teams need to find effective and impactful ways to grow and retain that talent. Organisations that think they can ignore investing in their people and simply buy the talent in when they are ready will be the losers in business.

3. Coaching works! 

Over and over again we heard the feedback that although coaching works, organisations often can’t afford it at scale. Our response? ‘Well, have we got a solution for you!’ Peeplcoach was created specifically to address the issue of coaching accessibility, with the aim of making it affordable for all. 

4. Technical stars need L&D to become great leaders.

Many of the keynote speakers, as well as attendees, highlighted what we already know. We hire talent, especially millennial talent, based on technical skill. We recruit those who got the highest marks in school or are the best functional technician in the team. We then promote them with a blaze of accolades, dump them in the deep end of leadership, expecting them to create ‘mini-mes’, and go on to complain when they are ineffective. A favourite line I heard was, ‘How do I make my technical leaders think like humans, not robots?’ Again, have we got a solution for you! At Peeplcoach we work with emerging and developing leaders to proactively support managers as they start their leadership journeys.

5. Leadership is the gift that just keeps giving.

One of the sessions included a quick poll regarding the burning areas that organisations must focus on. The order was:

  • continuous improvement and innovation
  • the fast-tracking of onboarding for both internal and external hires
  • leadership. 

My response to this was, ‘If you have great leaders throughout the organisation then continuous improvement and more effective onboarding is a natural consequence.’ So, invest in developing great leaders at all levels within the organisation and the impact is infinite – continuous improvement, innovation, engagement, increased retention and productivity, succession planning, better mental health and, ultimately, better business success and profit. 

6. Leadership development is everyone’s responsibility.

I was asked, ‘Who should own coaching and leadership? HR, L&D, a coaching team, or someone else?’ My answer was, ‘Everybody.’ Coaching and leadership development should be everyone’s responsibility and a way of being – not just one division’s KPI.

7. It’s not always easy to communicate the benefits and ROI of leadership development. 

Clearly the people at the conference understand in a qualitative sense, and even in a commercial sense, the benefit and impact of effective training and development programs. But they don’t necessarily know how to tell the story. Again, we have the solution. Download our ROLD Calculator to help you communicate with the holders of the purse strings in their language.

8. Employees need experiential learning.

They also need the learning to be in real time, delivered in their learning style, with live examples rather than arbitrary case studies. Hello Peeplcoach! Our real-play, role-play approach makes learning relevant, practical and immediately actionable.

9. There is uncertainty about how to build a culture of coaching, peer-to-peer support and accountability. 

Our answer to this dilemma is group coaching with a cohort of peers who are having the same experiences. But the group coaching has to happen over time to allow for trust to be built. Just one or two sessions would be a waste of time. 

10. Too often, L&D people are only contacted when there is a problem to fix.

Yes, this is annoying, and it leads us back to point 4. If we actually trained leaders as they began their leadership journey, there would be fewer issues to fix down the line. Additionally, and returning to point 7, we also need to change the approach and language we use around leadership development, to ensure we are speaking in commercial terms and not just people terms.

11. Human skills matter more than technical skills.

It was unanimous: the critical factor in both individual career success and team success is leadership and human skills, not technical skills. Current methodology involves a focus on technical skills development, with people spending years at university to become an accountant, a computer scientist or a lawyer, but receiving no dedicated leadership training. We can study entrepreneurship and human resources, but not leadership. This means that organisations have to invest in leadership to compensate for the fact that universities don’t. 

We think that some of these points will resonate with you and, if nothing else, inspire you to make some time in the coming six months to work on your business, not just in the business, as well as to work on yourself. 

To find out more about how Peeplcoach is addressing each of these insights, book a time to speak with one of the team here.

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My name is James and I am Head of Customer Partnerships, Co-founder and a Coach at Peeplcoach. I bring over 25 years business leadership experience performing roles in executive general management, board directorship, business development and operational leadership. My career has covered multiple industries including building technology services, asset management, renewable energy and not-for-profit with large multi-national corporations, private companies and SMEs including Honeywell, Plenary Group and The Hunger Project.

With extensive local and international experience, I have led teams of many shapes and sizes, including teams of thousands of employees across varied countries and cultures. I enjoy working with diverse groups of people to achieve outcomes with a sense of purpose and alignment to my personal values.

My qualifications include BA (Politics and Psychology) from Sydney University, Master of Commerce from University of NSW, Advanced Coaching Intensive program from Columbia University (USA) and the Company Directors Course (AICD).


Feel free to book a time to chat to be here https://calendly.com/james-chisholm/find-out-more-about-peeplcoach-1″

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I’ve worked for global organisations such as Simplot Australia, Kraft Foods (now Mondelez) and Hallmark Cards. I have successfully founded two businesses and have worked with hundreds of organisations and thousands of individuals to build successful careers, teams and businesses.

My qualifications include BA (Major in Criminology and Psychology), MBA, Post-Graduate in Policy Studies and Post Graduate Diploma in Organisational Change and Executive Coaching. I have also been recognised as a Telstra Businesswomen finalist, a Chief Executive Women winner and danced on a bar with Richard Branson.

In all my roles, my passion has been to assist and enable individuals to find value and fulfilment in their work and to support organisations for sustainable growth. I believe in being courageous, challenging ourselves for growth, equality and fairness and laughing every day. Simply, I want to help people find what they love to do and organisations to be successful.


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I now lead a team of coaches who are supporting emerging and developing leaders across Australia, New Zealand, US, UK, Singapore and India.

With 25+ years’ experience across continents in the people development and leadership space, I’m known for driving people-led organisational change and embedding positive cultures. I do this through a consultative coaching approach and facilitating programs that ignite new ways. I’ve led teams and worked with all levels of leadership in various industries, including GE, Coles, ADP, Consumer Affairs and Ambulance Victoria. Some of my clients include Asahi, Dulux, Inghams, Latrobe City Council and Bega to name a few.

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As a leader and coach, I explore hidden challenges, then empower individuals to find solutions that inspire action. I believe in putting people first to build capability, create high performing teams and positive sustainable change that drives business results.


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My name is Jo Hart and I am the Operations and Administration Manager at Peeplcoach and my role is to continually optimise the systems and processes that drive the delivery of accessible, high-quality coaching.

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I love a challenge and playing my role in the team to deliver development opportunities in a way that maximises engagement and creates opportunities for people and organisations to be at their best.

Email: jo.hart@peeplcoach.com

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In all my roles, my passion has been able to solve challenges to both individuals and organisations and help people be the best they can be. Simply put, I want to help organisations to be successful and to help people to reach their full potential to find what they love to do.

In addition to my industry experience I hold a Bachelor Business Degree from Griffith University (QLD) majoring in sports management.

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My name is Michael and I am the Projects Manager at Peeplcoach and my role is to make sure that everything happens seamlessly, from launching new coachees to our platforms, onboarding new Peeplcoach coaches or launching new content.

Over the last 25 years, I have had a varied career in roles including, finance, human resources, training, learning and organisational development. I’ve worked for a number of incredible organisations such as CBA, Mercedes-Benz, Lumo Energy, Yarra Valley Water and Bendigo Kangan Institute of TAFE.

I have qualifications in – Bachelor of Education & Training, Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours), Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management and Graduate Diploma in Psychological Studies.

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