• Mark Topley

Every day a school day

It’s been a week now, but I wanted to post a few words on my last ‘school day’ – a very fruitful trip to Kent for the Association of Dental Administrators and Managers (ADAM) South East conference.

Chats over dinner

I travelled the day before to make the most of the opportunity, and it was a pleasure to have dinner with the organiser Louise Spry, her husband Marcus, and our mutual friend Chris Barrow. We were joined by Alex O’Neill from CODE, also speaking the next day. It’s always good to meet new people, particularly through mutual friends, and get the chance to chat properly with no agenda in a relaxed environment. Chris’ quizzing of Alex about iComply and CODE was particularly entertaining. But Chris always wants to know the detail behind the brand, and always to see where he can add value or learn something.

The torrential rain of the night before gave way to a beautiful sunrise in Maidstone and we headed for Bradbourne House, an exquisite venue for an event – congratulations Louise.

The people person

First up, a chance to talk at length with Tracy Stuart of NBS Training over coffee. We’d been trying to get a date for a while and it was enlightening and affirming to listen to Tracy talk about her work. She and I share a common trait – experience gained in the trenches combined with a thirst for knowledge, and a work ethic to make it apply in practice. Her approach to working with teams is excellent – looking for the reasons behind (bad) behaviour rather than just hitting it head on.

The guru

Next up and the first speaker – Chris Barrow. I’ve heard him speak a great deal, but always make time to listen when I get the chance. Why? Because Chris is always learning, always studying the changing face of the business, and every time I hear him he has a helpful nugget or perspective that provides insight.

The expert

On to Alex O’Neill from CODE, and a presentation on compliance. Alex devours reports and legislation like few people I’ve met. It fascinates and inspires me to listen to people that don’t just study their subject, they live and breathe it. I also picked up a number of pearls of wisdom that will help me to add even more value to clients by tweaking my leadership offering so it directly contributes positively to CQC compliance.

You can’t do this on a computer

I always learn so much from these conferences. It’s why I invest in going to them to speak, and encourage others to do so. Some view attendance at training events in person as losing its appeal. Surely we can do it online?

But learning is more than listening to talks and there’s so much to be gained from the insight of people who are travelling all over the country. There’s much to be learned from the experience of peers in the chats over coffee.

Every day can be a school day. And for me, getting outside your Monday to Friday scene will give you insights you won’t see from staying put. And if there’s a good lunch (which there was this week), that’s a great bonus.

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