Posted on 6th November, 2018 by Jared Orlin
As part of our ‘Getting to Know’ series of blog posts, we’re talking to key members of the LEO Learning family so you can get to know them a bit better. Today we’re talking to Rich Calcutt, a Lead Learning Designer based in LEO Learning’s Brighton office.
Let’s meet Rich.
Describe your role at LEO Learning.
Lead Learning Designers have to do a bit of everything – we’re part consultant, part project manager, part art director, writer, digital designer… and much more. It’s important to get stuck into all these areas because, ultimately, we’re responsible for a project’s success and we need to own the design from start to finish.
If I’m lucky I get to work alongside our amazing sales team to bid for a piece of work, but otherwise they’ll brief me about the client’s requirements at the start of a project. From there, it’s up to me to get fully immersed in the client’s world. That means understanding their culture and ways of working, getting to know their learners, as well as becoming a pseudo-subject matter expert in whatever we’re training.
Once I’m up to speed with the client’s requirements, I become their ‘voice’ on the project, owning the entire design, from the learning methodology to the look and feel, to the technical development. In everything I do, I’m representing not just the client’s interests, but ultimately the interests of learners’ too.
The thing that really drives change are incredible learner experiences, and it’s my job get that just right.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
From a professional standpoint, it’s probably the talk I gave at Learning Technologies on ‘Design for Mobile Learning‘. Despite getting possibly the worst timeslot deep into the afternoon lull, and a lecture theatre at the furthest end of the convention hall, I still managed to draw a standing-room-only crowd. It’s a topic I’m really passionate about so I was really proud to have the opportunity to talk about it at Learning Tech.
My proudest personal achievement is going on tour to Croatia with my band. We certainly didn’t make any money and the planning was like something out of Spinal Tap, but even though we were only playing tiny venues it felt like we were headlining the O2 arena.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
Being a Lead Learning Designer means working across a really broad spectrum of subject matter and getting really well versed in your client’s world. Because we’re always working on several projects in parallel, that means jumping between topics as diverse as GDPR, dog food, eCommerce and dementia awareness. The challenge is being able to talk knowledgeably about a given subject at a moment’s notice, as well as keeping track of a multitude of design solutions for a whole range of clients. It’s one of those skills where there are no shortcuts – it just takes a lot of time and practice.
What are the three things you can’t work without?
My dog Betty. Ok so bear with me here – have you ever heard of Rubber Duck Debugging? It’s when software developers explain their code to a rubber duck on their desk. I often work from home and use Betty as my ‘rubber duck’ when I’m writing a project treatment or design documentation. I tell her about what the design is supposed to do and then explain what I’m actually proposing… and that’s when I realise I’m either good to go or I need to take her on a walk while I have a think.
Second has to be my ‘design breakfast’, Muzli. It’s a browser extension for Chrome that curates a list of beautiful, inspiring, and otherwise very cool designs from around the web every time you open a new tab. I check it out every morning to get my creative juices flowing.
Then last but not least has got to be coffee. My team has been taking some very early morning conference calls working with a great client in Australia, so caffeine is a must.
Which part of working at LEO Learning do you love most?
The fact that the LEO Learning Brighton office location is right in the heart of the city and close to the famous Lanes. On one side, we have the beach and the Brighton Palace Pier for a bit of summertime sunbathing, and on the other we’re surrounded by the coolest of Brighton’s independent pubs, restaurants and shops. I think you’d struggle to find a better place to work.
As a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
I grew up in the ‘90s watching a ton of Cartoon Network, so I pretty much wanted to be a Ninja Turtle. I know it rubbed off because even now my favourite colour is green, I’m addicted to pizza, and when a project goes really well it’s not unusual for me to shout out a “Cowabunga, dude!”