11th October 2018

Interview with Vicki Plant

*Jana Chynoradská about Vicki Plant

When I first met Vicki back in 2013 I was immediately attracted by her British English accent. As a non-native teacher of English who desires to be as good as one can be in this beautiful language I was excited to spend a couple of days with her and work not only on the project idea of “Parent as a Leader” but also on my English😊.

Today Vicki is part of our HARMONY team and her role is to lead and manage the Learn&Lead training courses that bring added value to our customers coming from two different, yet in some way identical, worlds. The world of schools and the world of business. I hope she will be able to strengthen us with her rich managerial, personal and teaching experience and that many of you will benefit from her presence soon. You can expect lots to be happening with Vicki in our team. We promise!

Could you introduce yourself?

I am originally from the centre of England, from the East Midlands, which is about 200 kilometres north of London, with the main cities being Derby, Nottingham and Leicester.  After finishing secondary school I did a degree in Computing and Mathematical Sciences in Leicester and then moved down to London where I started work in the computing industry.  I initially worked  as a software developer within the finance sector, then I moved into team and project management for customers in both the UK and Europe, including spending two years in Italy on secondment.  I decided that I preferred working with customers rather than computers and got a job as a Service Manager in telecoms where I was responsible for ensuring that large corporate customers received the service that they expected.  This role involved both fire-fighting and strategic planning and through actual and virtual teams we resolved issues and improved customer satisfaction.

Managing customers from different industry sectors gave me a good background into business but to increase my skills and knowledge I took various managerial courses which culminated in achieving an MBA.  After a few years working in service management I met my future husband while on a para-gliding weekend.  On getting married, I moved out of London and went back to my roots in the Midlands.  I retained my job and became home-based, although I still needed to attend frequent on-site meetings with colleagues and customers around the country.  Having always been a keen traveller, I finally convinced my husband to take a break from our working lives and we went “round-the-world” for 6 months.  This was a wonderful time where we experienced many different countries and cultures and this time away, truly broadened our outlook on life.  On our return I decided to work independently, still within the IT and telecoms industries, but only on short-term business projects.

Having my two children in the early 2000s made my rethink my priorities in life and I decided to put my career on hold and spend time being with them.  At this time, I became more involved in my local community through joining local groups and I even gained new skills as I worked voluntarily as treasurer and president of a small local charity.  The yearning for travel and wishing to open our children to different cultures, resulted in us making a life change and so we moved to France in 2008, where we have been ever since.  With the change in country came a change in our working lives, and both my husband and I now have new careers.  I took a CELTA before leaving the UK and upon arriving in France I immediately started working as an EFL teacher for a local independent language school.

I’ve now been working in the ELT industry for 10 years where I primarily teach English to business people, in diverse industry sectors and for different jobs and professions.  I have found that my knowledge of business and management has helped me to understand the day-to-day business needs of the students and how to apply their learning within the work environment.  Not only do I provide face to face lessons in south west France but for the last 3 years I have also been teaching online which allows me to teach people wherever they are, whether in a different part of France or in a different country.  Even though I no longer work directly in IT, I enjoy the challenge of applying it in the work environment.

For me, teaching and learning go hand in hand, and over the years I have participated in many training courses, gaining both hard skills, and the softer skills through personal development.  I am currently studying for a Diploma in Language Studies (English and French), which is helping me not only professionally but also in my day-to-day life,  and with my two children who are now bilingual.  I like to relax by going to exercise classes, walking, swimming, and reading books, both novels and non-fiction.  In the winter I enjoy skiing in the nearby Pyrenean mountains and I’m a lover of both nature and animals.

 East Midlands

How long have you known Jana Chynoradská?

I first met Jana in 2013, when I became involved in the project ‘Learn & Lead as a parent’, as a member of the French team.  I found Jana very inspiring as she had both a vision and the drive to push it through.  Following on from this, in 2015-2017 we worked together on a 2-year Erasmus+ project where we developed the Prolant Cap teacher framework and two new CLIL programmes.  I led the development of the CLIL Tourism training programme with the local French team and teams from Malta and the UK.  Jana & I worked together remotely and also met regularly through the various project meetings that were held around Europe.

What did you like about this offer/job?

That it is a job where I will be able to use both my teaching skills and my managerial skills.  After working in the ELT industry for 10 years, the concept of professional development for teachers/trainers is something that is close to my heart and I really want to see a change in how trainers are recognised professionally.  Although I will be based at home in France, I will be working as part of an international team to develop and deliver the required results.  It’s a challenge as it’s something new but I’m anticipating that over time I will be able to become a valuable and valued member of the team.

What can we look forward to in your “life skills”?

I like to understand the bigger picture and to see how this can apply to the activities that are being carried out.  I have determination and persistence, and do my best to deliver what is needed and  to reach a successful conclusion.  Flexibility, adaptability and “going with the flow” are some of my strong points and I try to encourage others to adapt and work to a common aim.  I always try to maintain a positive outlook but also try to be as authentic, honest and realistic as I can.  I believe that listening is just as important as talking, and that we need to have time to absorb and understand what others are truly saying.  Both in and outside the classroom, I value humour and fun and like to be inspired and to inspire.

If this work is your way of life, what is your life’s way?

To make the most of life, to take on new opportunities as they arise and to continuously grow and develop.