Student Stories

Student Story: Aaron Willoughby

13 April

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Student Story: Aaron Willoughby

My name is Aaron Willoughby and I have worked for KFC for almost 12 years now. I joined as a part time team member as the guy in the back making the chicken. Then I worked my way up various different roles, spending two years as a restaurant manager, moving into a HR support role and then from there moved into the learning and development space about a year ago.

How long have you worked within digital learning? Or is that something quite new?

When I joined the L&D team, I was a complete novice. I didn’t know a huge amount about L&D or what an LMS was. So over that last year, I’ve been on a journey to learn everything along the way.

What projects were you working on before starting the course at DLI?

I was working on a restaurant management training programme, which covers the curriculum for every role within KFC. This was the first project that was assigned to me when I joined the L&D team.

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What were your main challenges when you started your L&D role?

I was lucky enough to have been a restaurant manager, which gave me loads of great context in terms of understanding the day-to-day challenges of being in that role and what support they need. However, I didn’t have any kind of previous experience around understanding of eLearning, content creation etc. The main challenge I had was partnering the knowledge I learned, up with the correct terminology and acronyms, as that can be very complex at first.

What were the main drivers in advancing your career?

When I first joined the L&D I wanted to get a better understanding and exposure to knowledge in that area. So I actually did the DLI Certification Course, which was brilliant, because it introduced me to the fundamentals and core concepts like A.D.D.I.E. It also taught me the basics of being a Learning Developer or Instructional Designer. Afterwards, I felt I had a really good understanding, which helped me in terms of going back into my day-to-day work, inspiring ideas for content creation etc. I wanted to explore this further, so I enrolled on the diploma programme to gain a much deeper understanding of the theory and practical elements.

What benefits did the diploma have for KFC?

When I first started the diploma, it lined up really well for me in terms of launching our restaurant manager training programme, which was very text heavy/ paper based and this was like the first time we were going to pursue an eLearning approach. The diploma helped me revisit some of the core fundamentals that I forgotten so that, when I was developing the ‘Area Coach Programme’ it talked about creating learner profiles, which really helped me shape the area coach training programme.

For context, in KFC UK, we have around 170 area coaches that look after 1000 restaurants. We’ve got around 30,000 employees in the UK and Ireland right now, so that knock on effect for those roles is going to have a huge impact. Getting the fundamentals right, like the learner profiles really helped me shape that programme. Which led to questions of is it better to pursue micro learning for the role of an area coach, as they can’t really commit to big workshops or classroom-based learning. So we made sure that the learning was tailored to their needs.

How did the diploma help progress your career as an individual?

I’ve gone from being a novice in the L&D field, to now where I am able to have conversations with the more experienced team members, challenge ideas and bring new ideas to the table and how do we move from standard eLearning to micro learning, video content. That future thinking has all come from me joining the diploma programme.

Why did you choose Digital Learning Institute?

I think what stood out to me was the flexibility of it, when you download the brochure you get a clear understanding of the modules and what course is going to be. I also loved the idea of the live virtual classrooms, where you can go in and connect with other people to share & learn. I also liked how I knew we were going to get regular touch points with the right people to help me along the journey.

In what areas do you think you received the most value?

All the people from the DLI that I connected with were brilliant in terms of answering questions or help with referencing for assignments. I think it was super helpful because you knew that there was always someone an email away. Also in every virtual classroom that was an expert in a particular field talking about their trade and answering questions. Which helped me shape a lot of what I was working on. I just loved the balance between the theory & practical and then putting that into action with the help of people that you connect.

How likely are you to recommend the DLI to someone reading this right now?

I would say, honestly, I was genuinely a complete novice before I joined the DLI, and I knew nothing about any of this stuff. And they have been brilliant in terms of helping me on that journey. They’ve been there every step of the way. If you’re on the fence, or a little bit nervous, I would say definitely reach out, connect with one of the DLI team members. They will come back to you and put all your questions and doubts to sleep. I looked forward to my weekly sessions. I went from being shy and sat on the fence, joining the first zoom call. But you quickly start to feel part of it when you’re in there. I’ve just loved it!