The value of learning and development should not be understated in our development as civil servants. Since joining the Civil Service four years ago it is something I have benefited from greatly, helping me overcome both personal and work goals, while progressing my career.

In my first year of work, I was recommended a course on presenting and speaking to large audiences. This was something I really feared and wasn’t particularly good at. During the course, I was challenged, pushed out of my comfort zone but supported by a great trainer and a group of peers all in a similar situation. We were taught simple but effective techniques on how to overcome the anxiety of a large audience, how to present clearly and keep your audience engaged and most importantly how to stand and what speed to talk at. All techniques I wish I had known sooner.

I was able to bring back my new skills to the workplace to not only help me in my role but also share with colleagues to support them. That is the art of learning and development, while building your knowledge of something new, you can also use it to upskill and support your peers.

It has been a pleasure to organise this conference for you, with the support of the Network and my volunteer team. I really hope the day we have planned helps you in your career journey, whether you are just starting out in the civil service, looking to progress, upskill or even change profession.

We have attendees from all over the UK, of all grades and from over 20 professions, so the opportunities to network are endless. I encourage you all to maximise the value of this in person conference, speak to someone new and share your learning with colleagues on the day, as well as back in your departments.

I look forward to meeting you all throughout the day. For those that are unable to join in person, please be assured we will be running a similar event online later this year.

James Jefferson
Vice-Chair – Conference, Civil Service LGBT+ Network