It’s been quite a year hasn’t it? But now, Spring is here, the sun has appeared and the UK is starting to come out of lockdown. There is an atmosphere of hope, and optimism. And Team AO is celebrating! 1 April 2021 is our 9th Birthday (and no, that’s not an April Fools spoof).
So, to mark our birthday I thought I would highlight 9 reasons for celebration with some input from the other members of Team AO. They are all reasons that resonate with our company values – Be Helpful, Have Fun, Deliver Excellence, Make a Positive Difference, Keep Learning.
Reason No. 1: Partnering with our clients
This year, more than ever, we have tried to Be Helpful. The greatest example of that recently has been reinventing our programmes so we can deliver them online. And that means using whatever technology our clients need to use, whether it be Zoom, MS Teams or Blackboard Collaborate. We are very proud that we have successfully delivered our programmes to the same high quality as we did face to face.
“I love working as part of Team AO because we really do this – in everything we do we aim to be helpful to our clients and to each other and it is what makes me tick!” Clare Roberts
Reason No. 2: Providing high quality resources
We have a wealth of resources available to support our clients and others. They form the basis of our training programmes but are also available to access from our website. There are downloadable PDFs, free eBooks, free webinars, podcasts and of course our famous toolkits.
“We have well researched and evidenced high-quality resources – this really makes the difference to our mentors and career conversationalists. They tell us that the tools give them the confidence to try new ways, ask different questions and having the tools helps them to focus on the conversation rather than what they will ask next. Same with the models/ frameworks.” Oona Hudson
Reason No. 3: Service with a smile
Anybody who has worked with us knows we are a happy bunch and we like to have fun. The nature of our work (career management and mentoring) is serious and important. But we believe we can discuss those subjects in ways that are engaging and enjoyable – for us as well as our clients.
“Working at Team AO certainly gives me a chance to belong to a team who like to have fun – and not just together in our virtual world but also with our clients. Enthusiasm and energy run through all we do and doing this has earned me the nickname Tigger both within the team and with some of our clients” ?!! Clare Roberts
Reason No. 4: Practicing what we preach about team development
Our philosophy is that career development is about improving a person’s employability and enjoyability at work. And we aim to apply that to our team as well as our clients. A great example of that is our recent team night out at the Best Business Woman Awards – what a fun night!
“I always look forward to working with Team AO colleagues and clients, from team meetings to producing workshops to ad hoc WhatsApp debates on chocolate! We always meet with a smile and laugh throughout. It’s a real pleasure and honestly doesn’t feel like ‘work’ at all.” Jenny O’Brien
Reason No. 5: Nothing is too much trouble
We are very proud to have been shortlisted for more than one award for customer service. We are a service business. Our clients are the reason we are here and we believe in doing the best we possibly can for them.
“I love the relationship we have with our clients. It’s not just that nothing is too much trouble, but we really go all out to provide them with everything they expect sprinkled with a little of what they didn’t know they needed. We prepare candidates ahead of training by giving them high quality resources, we engage and motivate attendance (drop out/ non-attendance rates are very low), we provide the slides and all notes made during training within a day or two so learning stays fresh, we follow up with clients and keep in touch with candidates. We will even manage the programmes for our clients.” Oona Hudson
Reason No. 6: Innovation station
The pandemic was tough for everyone in different ways. But we like to focus on the positives that have come out of what was a challenging year. One positive for us at Team AO was innovation and the fast pace at which technology-led solutions drove us forward. With live online and blended learning solutions available, we managed to continue to teach and deliver, staying personal but going virtual.
“We turned on a die, reshaped and reshared our programmes with no disruption, expanding our offering and driving forward online learning solutions in a brain-friendly way. I was really proud of how quickly, efficiently and effectively we responded to the environmental change and therefore changing client needs. It was teamwork at its finest.” Gwen Tredinnick
Make a Positive Difference
Reason No. 7: Giving back and paying it forward
As well as supporting our clients and each other, Team AO is committed to making a positive difference to the world and the communities in which we live. We are fortunate to work with many international organisations and to have contacts all over the world. One of the highlights of our work in the last few months was to deliver a pro bono Mentoring for Success Online programme. Our participants were a group of mentors from MeetMentors, an online mentoring platform that is the brainchild of one of my own mentees. MeetMentors provides training and support for college students, fresh graduates, and talented youth in Africa to enable them to fulfil their potential. It was such an honour to meet such a talented group of individuals who are doing amazing, inspiring work and also making time to develop others.
Reason No. 8: Loving to learn
We are a team of Learning and Development professionals so it is no surprise that we love to learn. Thankfully, we all love to learn about different things. Some of us love to learn about people, career management and mentoring. Others love to learn about business and organisations. And yet others love to learn about technology and processes. Its those differences that make for great team work.
“My love of being organised and using project management tools is welcomed at Team AO, I’ve even learnt I’m a ‘J’ preference – likely to live life in a planned, orderly way – that’s me! The entire Team is solutions focused which is amazing, improved processes are continually suggested and adopted by all with ease, which benefits the team and clients alike.” Jenny O’Brien
Reason No. 9: Recruiting talented individuals
In 2012, when I started Antoinette Oglethorpe Ltd, there was just me, AO. Nine years on, we now have a team of six, many of whom you have heard from earlier in this blog post. And, as we enter our 10th year, we are delighted to welcome our newest member of Team AO, Hani El Sharkawi. Hani is a consultant, trainer and coach in the areas of leadership, intercultural competencies and service excellence. He will be providing Facilitation Support, especially in those cases where the client wishes delivery in one of the four languages he speaks fluently (German, Arabic, French and English). Hani is based in Vienna so we are looking forward to a time when we can arrange a team trip to meet him there.
“I am excited about joining Team AO as everyone is so professional, passionate and fun to work with. The team members are all focused on putting clients’ needs first and sharing their knowledge and experience.” Hani El Sharkawi
If you’re interested in how we might be able to support you please do get in touch.