Tech Trailblazers

Tech Trailblazers: Louise McElvaney

  • Name: Louise McElvaney

    Position: Director of People and Performance, Learning Pool


    Louise is Director of People and Performance at Learning Pool, the Derry based e-learning company that began as a scrappy start-up in 2006 and has grown to be one of the UK’s most respected and innovative suppliers of online learning solutions. In her role she is responsible for human resources, legal and administration and leads the company’s activities in building a strong growth culture that’s been recognised by Investors in People and The Sunday Times, among others.

    What does your typical day look like?

    We’ve recently completed our third acquisition in three years so I’m working with the team to help new colleagues integrate into our company. We’ve also grown substantially on an organic basis and reaching 200 people, so I’ve been working on a project to ensure that the benefits we offer our team are among the best in the market and we continue to be a great place to work.

    My role at Learning Pool is broad so there’s no such thing as a typical day. Most days I split my time between my day to day responsibilities of negotiating customer contracts, recruitment into the business, HR and admin on one hand as well as more strategic initiatives that support our growth. The constant in all of that is keeping a close eye on employee wellbeing and developing our company culture which is my primary responsibility.

    What are you currently working on?

    We’ve just found out that we’re rated as a two-star company for employee engagement (out of a possible three stars) in the Best Companies engagement programme, which we’re pleased about. Learning Pool was also recertified with Investors in People as Gold standard company last year.

    So, there’s lots of good, but also more to do. Finally (almost!) we were accredited with Diversity Mark NI last year and we’re working on several initiatives to encourage females into the business and especially into our technology department. We’ve had some success here and three of our interns last year were women. I’m hoping that trend continues.

    What inspired you to join this company in particular?

    I’ve been involved in Learning Pool since it was founded in 2006 and joined the team full time in 2011. I’m inspired by the people who work here and it's a real pleasure to be part of a growing culture where we challenge each other to deliver more and better. That’s resulted in many of our team members building exciting careers for themselves and that continues today.

    I’m also inspired by how committed our customers are to the products we offer and the results they can produce for their businesses by training their staff better. In a world where the demand for new skills grows and changes every day, I love that we’re helping our customers enhance the skills in their workplaces so they can deal with future challenges.

    Did you always want to work in this industry (tech)?

    I started my career in financial services and worked for some of the world’s largest banks before moving back to Northern Ireland. So, the tech sector was new for me but the fundamentals of building a high performing team and growing a business are transferable. The industry is a great one to work in because the pace of change is exhilarating, and the market opportunity is immense.

    What’s your favourite part about your work?

    I love the diversity of my role. As well as being responsible for our people and performance strategy I act as company secretary for the Learning Pool group. So, I spend a lot of time working with our board and investors on our growth priorities and am heavily involved in our M&A activities. But the day job of helping our management team recruit and retain staff and creating an environment where they can succeed is exciting.

    What would you say to other people considering a job in this industry (tech)?

    There's something about the pace of product development and innovation in tech that just exudes optimism. At Learning Pool, our people often join us because they want to have an impact and be a part of something special. A common aspiration for people is to be part of the next big thing. In the tech industry, that becomes real.

    What do you consider to be the most important tech innovation or development in recent years?

    The advances in artificial intelligence that have happened in recent years are interesting. We see that clearly in the consumer world where things like music and entertainment are increasingly driven by AI and it's starting to permeate the business world. It feels like we’re still at the start of the journey and I’m excited at the work we’re doing at Learning Pool to bring a lot of that consumer grade user experience into the world of corporate learning.

    What tech gadget could you not live without?

    My husband ... he takes all the pain of setting all the tech up in our house! Failing that, my Alexa.

    About the author

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