In this episode, we get to learn about Christine Chittenden, her business, and how they are adjusting to Covid. Christine is the CEO and owner of Transformational Institute in New South Wales. They deliver accredited and non-accredited courses in health, community services and business leadership and management.
Christine shared how their company adapted to the pandemic, the challenges the business and their clients faced, the strategies they implemented to help their staff and students, and how she keeps motivated to face these challenges.
Christine also shared the importance of motivation and mental health for her, her students, and staff.
In this episode:
- Who is Christine and what does she do?
- “I really want to make a difference in people’s lives and give our learners the best experience and training possible so that they leave the RTO knowing that they had the skills and knowledge to be a great manager or a great carer, and to have the tools to progress in their career.”
- Christine’s biggest challenge in the past six months
- Because of the lockdown, progress slowed, motivation is down. There are also a lot of distractions at home and different other reasons why students couldn’t attend webinars or submit their work.
- The transition from face-to-face to online
- “It’s really hard to motivate people when they don’t feel the urgency.”
- Christine and her team upgraded their online learning platform, and even ensured hard copies of lessons are available for their students, but there are still challenges with ensuring students comply with the lessons and such.
- What was it like when students returned to the classrooms?
- “I wrote a really detailed Coronavirus plan. I added things to the student workbook, to the trainer handbook. We added it. Put a few Facebook things out about what we were doing.”
- Not all students though are all back in the classrooms. Christine believes it will stay like that for some time.
- “I’ve done everything I can think of to make it safe for everybody. And so far it’s been working really well.”
- If we were to go into a second lockdown, a second wave, how prepared does Christine feel compared to the first time? And what would Christine do differently this time?
- How did Christine come up with setting up a studio? And why did she do that?
- “So I had a spare room, just a little room. And so I just rushed out to Spotlight and grabbed some green fabric. I bought some lights and microphones. Just quickly rushed out and got a whole heap of stuff. And then just set that room up and the trainer can go in there. It’s quiet, no one disturbs you, you can’t hear anything else. We can put any background on it that we like. And it really was so efficient.”
- How have the trainers been adapting to this different delivery method? And how does Christine feel with the trainers doing more recordings and interactions online?
- “The joy of being a small RTO is you can pivot really quickly.”
- How was Christine able to get over that hurdle with trainers and having to adjust and change? How did she overcome that with them working from home?
- Looking back on the last six months and everything she has done, what would Christine say is her biggest achievement?
- “If we have another lockdown or not, we are ready now. I feel like we’re really prepared and we got through it.”
- Despite all the challenges, Christine has been able to pay down debt in the business
- What were Christine’s challenges with dealing with students doing work placement as well as doing the training and then infection control on top of that?
- The biggest challenge now is finding the students and how to get them trained without funding.
- There are plenty of people who want to work in the health industry but they just couldn’t afford to pay for a course.
- “We all understand that the dollar will only go so far. But it was very frustrating to have about 30 students waiting about, you know, eight employers waiting and then nothing I could do about it.”
- With JobTrainer coming in, how has this announcement affected Christine’s business and what strategies is she putting in place?
- Where does Christine see herself in 12 months time?
- Christine is confident for the future. She believes that they will have to keep going and just expanding on what they are doing. They will also stick with a combination of face-to-face and online training delivery.
- Vivacity’s Mastermind’s has helped Christine stay focused and decide what needs to be done on the business, and to implement strategies that she learned.
- Christine is now ‘off the tools’ and working on the business instead of in the training rooms.
- How does Christine keep motivated each day?
- Christine feels motivated knowing that she can really focus on what they need to do to grow the business and she wants all the staff and herself to be really satisfied with what they do and be able to go home everyday thinking that today was a good day.
- “We change lives through education and when you see the impact of bringing someone through their training and then them getting a job. And the big thing is it’s not just getting the job, it’s not just learning the skills, it’s the confidence that they build in themselves as well.”