Freelance to Full Time - My Journey

by Christine Hood

I joined PDW Group in 2016 during the 10 years of my career I spent freelancing as an actor, facilitator, coach, assessor and everything in between. You could be forgiven for calling me a jack of all trades, however this experience gave me a good foundation in understanding different clients and sectors which helps me in my job here.

I've been acting my whole life, mainly doing theatre across the UK and stretching as far as Brazil. I have a passion for anything drama related and after 10 years of working as a freelancer, I was at a crossroads of where my career was going. I believe in fate and it was around this time I started having the conversation with PDW about working full time. It was daunting to change from being freelance to being full time but my post would incorporate all the things I love; acting, facilitation and helping people.

Part of the PDW philosophy is that practice makes perfect. If you’re struggling to have a difficult conversation with a co-worker, we can help coach you through that scenario and advise on how your behaviour could be perceived by others. As a Support Consultant (SC), I  act out the scenarios that our delegates give us and on more than one occasion the delegate has stopped to say I am scarily just like the person they’re struggling with. It’s a huge compliment when they say this as it reaffirms I am doing my job correctly.

Coaching is about asking the right questions at the right time to enable delegates to think in new ways and come up with solutions. It's about asking difficult and challenging questions and digging beneath the surface to uncover hidden depths and lightbulb moments.

I am currently breaking into being a Lead Facilitator (LF) which involves designing and delivering workshops that last between half a day and 2 days. The workshops can either be at the client’s offices or in PDW’s specially designed development centre and may include working with or without SC’s.

Being a LF requires me to understand PDW IP inside and out because when I am stood up at the front delivering a session I need to understand the models and tools and how these will help our delegates move from A to B.

Likewise, I need to understand our clients; what their needs, challenges and motivators are because every workshop we do is fully bespoke to the client. We don’t do ‘off the shelf’ training, instead we tailor everything to them and their training needs. In doing this, both the LF and SC need to be flexible and fluid as quite often the initial training plan is very different to what we do on the day because we adapt to the clients in the moment.

Being an LF or SC requires everyone to be a great coach. We don’t tell, we ask and we coach accordingly. Some people need sensitive coaching, others need to be asked challenging and difficult questions that will enable them to break through the barriers and emerge with new found vision and actions.

Another USP of PDW Group is we discreetly record our practise sessions and the LF reviews this footage with the delegates one-to-one. We do this because it is a revelation for delegates to understand how they are perceived by others and helps them to develop their self-awareness which is imperative in understanding behaviour and how we can style flex. Our process is intense and as an LF it is important to read the room and flex our own style when necessary. It is this attitude and dedication to every delegate that gives us an NPS score of 95% and feedback from delegates including “PDW is life changing!”.

Being a LF also enables me to use my drama skills because I need to write scenarios, familiarise myself with old scenarios, facilitate forum theatre, download monologues and make sure the actors are kept updated and we are all speaking the same language.

Outside of the workshops, as an LF I need to work with clients on a 1:1 basis and this may be a coaching session or a practise session. This is more intimate and it is incredibly rewarding to work with the same delegate over a period of time and see their progression.

I also sit on interview panels, for both PDW vacancies and interviews for our clients. This may fall under an assessment centre, development centre, academy or mock competency based interviews.

In terms of development, PDW Group consistently develop their own people. We are unique because we develop our freelance team and our permanent team. There is no hierarchy and everyone is open to feedback, including the business owners Jim and Elan. It is refreshing to be able to share my thoughts, give feedback upwards and have dedicated development time for myself. Each LF and SC put themselves in the shoes of the delegate: we do practise sessions, review our own footage and take every opportunity to grow and be great.

My job really is different every day and I thrive on this. I am always doing something new. I travel a lot across the UK, I meet new people all of the time and I look forward to seeing familiar faces and hearing what is going on in their world.

I am very happy in my role and on reflection I have learnt so much in such a short space of time.

PDW is unique and I think you would be hard pushed to find somewhere quite like here. You have to be slightly mad as we are all colourful characters, but the blend works just right and I find myself laughing and smiling every day.

PDW is my work family. I never understood the phrase ‘work family’ before I joined PDW, however now I do because we are all part of one family. We support each other, have banter, celebrate our successes and work towards a common goal of creating great work.