TJ interviews: Paul Russell, Luxury Academy

We got a few minutes with Paul Russell, founder of Luxury Academy.

What makes a good trainer?

Well in my book there are good trainers and then there are great trainers. Good trainers are the ones that know how to skilfully pique their audience’s interest and keep them guessing, they are engaging and have the ability to take any given subject and make it accessible and interesting.

A great trainer has all this, but they also have something more. The training room can be an extraordinary place, in the hands of a great trainer an individual can transform, they can develop a confidence that comes with not only newfound knowledge, but newfound skill.

I have seen individuals truly flourish over the space of a few days, because they have been given the tools to do their jobs properly. A great trainer is an observer, a psychologist and a behaviourist. They have an acute ability to read those extremely subtle nuances of communication, and the know how to inspire and effect change.

What is the most beneficial training a company can offer its staff?

When we look at a business to assess its training needs, we are looking at current staff competencies as well as areas of concern. Customer feedback can be a good source of information to assess training needs, and each company will have its own unique situation.

A great trainer is an observer, a psychologist and a behaviourist.

But almost every company can benefit from some kind of communication training for its staff. The recent CBI/Pearson report suggested that a lack of communication skills is an issue with graduates and I have to agree.

Whether staff are customer facing or not, communication skills are essential in the workplace as they determine whether an individual can form strong working relationships with others, deal with conflict and manage others effectively.

And if the staff are customer facing, then communication skills are paramount. It amazes me how many companies are perfectly willing to allow their staff to represent them on the front line without any form of communication training.

How do you see the way companies approach training changing in the future?

In the luxury industry, most training is now approached from a client engagement rather than a technical perspective. So when companies in the luxury industry are looking for training they are asking, how will this make our customer feel, will it create brand loyalty and will our customer engage with us more?

We’re seeing greater demand for blended learning and this trend for using technology within training is something I feel that companies will look to incorporate more fully as time goes on.

What are your tips to finding a good training provider?

It can actually be rather difficult to find a good training provider because training is often shrouded in secrecy. A company might be reluctant to talk about the fact that they are training their staff and the results it is bringing.

Similarly, as a training provider, we are extremely careful about retaining our client’s privacy, that is their privilege, and should they wish to remain completely anonymous then that is how it will stay. My first tip though is to look to your industry and attempt to find a training provider who specialises in your particularly industry.

For training to be effective, they need to know the sector and its customers inside out. The second is to seek recommendations.


About the interviewee

Paul Russell is co-founder and director of Luxury Academy London, a multi-national private training company with offices in London, Delhi, Mumbai and Visakhapatnam. Luxury Academy London specialise in leadership, communication and business etiquette training for companies and private clients across a wide range of sectors.


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